is one of the
great untold stories of World War II: In 1943, in the German occupied Denmark, the
Danes find out that all 7,500 Danish Jews are about to be rounded up and
deported to German death camps. The Danish people make their own decision: it's
not going to happen ..
A True Heroine in Nazi Captivity
is an unfamiliar name to most people,
but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved the lives of
many refugees. She was one of the most dedicated and active workers
in aiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. Her courage
enabled not only the survival of hundreds of Danish Jews but also of
the generations of their descendants.
Mrs. Ellen Nielsen lost her husband, Christian Nielsen, in April, 1941, and supported her six
children as a fishmonger on the Copenhagen docks, buying fish directly
from the fishermen and selling it to passers-by.
the first week of October 1943, while she was selling fish on the
docks, she was approached by two young boys. They told Mrs. Nielsen they were Jewish
brothers and asked her to help them escape
the Nazis and find a fisherman who
would take them to safety in Sweden.
As soon as she
heard the story, she offered to hide the boys in her home while she
arranged for a boat which would take them to Sweden. In a short time,
the boys were safely across the sound in Sweden.
fishermen, the Danish underground learned of Ellen Nielsen's act, and
during the following weeks, over a hundred Jewish refugees passed
through her home on their way to Sweden. At one time, Mrs. Nielsen
had over thirty refugees squeezed into her small house.
In addition she hid several saboteurs
for the underground ..
December 1944, Ellen Nielsen was caught by the Nazis, tortured and eventually
sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany as prisoner 94.315.
the book Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust: The Voices
of Eyewitnesses, edited by Vera Laska, the author tells how Ellen
Nielsen was condemned to death and placed three times on the line leading to the gas chamber.
first time she saved herself by bribing a guard with a bar of soap
which she had received in a Danish Red Cross parcel. The second time
she was able to do the same with the contents of another Danish
parcel. The third time she had nothing left with which to bribe the
guards. Waiting on the line, stripped naked, she was resigned to
Suddenly she was approached by
Nazi guards who informed her
she had been saved by an agreement between SS Heinrich Himmler and the
Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte to have all surviving Danish
concentration camp prisoners shipped to Sweden for internment.
Nielsen was taken to Sweden just before the end of the war ..
She returned to Denmark immediately after WW2 and died November 26,
1967 - a true heroine.