1941, in the midst of World War II, the Germans began their Final Solution
for the Jews. At that time there were 10
million Jews in the countries of German-occupied Europe. By 1945,
less than half of that number were left alive. The Nazi goal was to
exterminate the Jews and rule Europe in an ethnically
"pure" German Empire.
the infamous Wannsee Conference near
Berlin 20 January 1942, details of the
mass murder plans were discussed. Documents from that conference are
still in existence today. They list, country by country, the number
of Jews in Europe. Against the entry for Denmark is the figure 5,600
- the inaccurate Nazi estimate of the number of Jews in Denmark.
was a small idyllic country of 4 million people, with a history of
taking in immigrants from countries such as Germany, Holland,
Sweden, and Poland. Before the war, Denmark's small Jewish
population was well integrated into the community.
portrait of teachers and pupils at a preschool in Copenhagen. Jewish
children were saved by the Danes.
April 9, 1940, Germany attacked Denmark. From then until 1945,
Denmark was under German occupation. Most Danes were pro-British and
anti-Nazi, but they were also aware of the need to adjust to living
in a German-dominated Europe. Danes and Germans quickly worked
out the terms of occupation. King Christian X remained in Denmark,
unlike his fellow monarchs in Norway and the Netherlands who fled to
escape the Germans and establish resistance movements in England.
The Danish government continued to rule. The Danes agreed to supply
rich agricultural produce and other goods to the Germans.
the following year, however, a Danish resistance movement had begun,
but it made little headway until 1943. Then the mood in Denmark
began to change. German military targets and businesses working for
the occupiers were hit by a wave of sabotage actions. There was also
labor unrest, with massive strikes - widely supported by the
populace - in many Danish cities.