King on his horse, followed by Danish citizens on bicycles
legend says that when the Germans ordered Jews in occupied Denmark
to identify themselves by wearing armbands with yellow stars, King Christian
X of Denmark and non-Jewish Danes thwarted the order by
donning the armbands themselves.
A popular version of the legend has
King Christian sporting an armband as he makes his daily morning
horseback ride through the streets of Copenhagen, explaining to
citizens that he wears the Star of David as a demonstration of the
principal that all Danes are equal. And non-Jewish Danes respond to
their king's example by wearing the armband as well, thus preventing
the Germans from identifying Jewish citizens and rendering the order
the Danes did undertake heroic efforts to shelter their Jews and
help them escape from the Nazis, there is no real-life example of
the actions described by this legend. Danish citizens never wore the
yellow badge, nor did King Christian ever threaten to don it
himself. In fact, Danish Jews never wore the yellow badge either,
nor did German officials ever issue an order requiring Danish Jews
to display it.
the Danes engaged in symbolic gestures of defiance against their
occupiers, such as wearing four coins tied together with red and
white ribbons in their buttonholes. Red and white are the Danish
colors, and four coins totalling nine ore represented the date of
the occupation, April 9.
the book Queen in Denmark by Anne Wolden-Ræthinge the
Danish Queen Margrethe II says about the legend:"It is a
beautiful and symbolic story, but it is not true. The myth about the
King wearing the star of David ... I can imagine that this could
have originated from a typical remark by a Copenhagen errand boy on
his bicycle: 'If they try to enforce the yellow star here, the King
will be the first to wear it!' To me, the truth is an even greater
honor for our country than the myth."
Christian X became a prominent figure for the real views of the
majority of the Danish population. The King made it his practice to
ride his horse alone through Copenhagen every morning to underline
his continuing claims for national sovereignty, unarmed and without
escort. He became a national symbol for rich and poor alike, a
positive contrast to German militarism and to the cult of the
Fuhrer. In fact King Christian rejected many aspects of the
occupation, made speeches against the occupying force and became
known as a protector of the Jews.
December 1941, after an arson at the synagogue in Copenhagen, he
sent a letter of sympathy to Rabbi Marcus Melchior. The welfare of
the Danish Jews was of great importance to the king and the Danish
government. "There is no Jewish question in Denmark"
were the words of Foreign Minister Erik Scavenius to the German top
Nazi Hermann Goring in autumn 1941.
of King Christian's snubbing of Hitler and the Nazis (some true and
some apocryphal) began to circulate. When Hitler sent a letter of
congratulations to King Christian X on the latter's
70th birthday in September 1942, the monarch's brief response
("My best thanks") was taken as an insult by Hitler, who
recalled and replaced the German ambassador in Denmark.