The Danes said NO
August, 1943, a state of emergency was declared in Denmark, and the
Nazis decided that they could now move against the Jews. In
September Hitler approved the deportation of the Danish Jews. Werner
Best of the SS, Hitler's chief in Denmark, received the final order
to proceed with deportation of Jews to death camps, on Sept.28,
1943. The Nazis were prepared to deport the 7,500 Jews, starting at
10 PM. on Oct. 1, 1943.
Georg F. Duckwitz
Georg F. Duckwitz, a
courageous German maritime attaché and Best's confidant,
at great danger to himself leaked out the order to a leading Danish Social
Democrat, Hans Hedtoft. Hedtoft later recalled:
"I was sitting in a meeting when Duckwitz asked to see me. 'The
disaster is going to take place', he said. 'All details are planned.
Your poor fellow citizens are going to be deported to an unknown
destination'. Duckwitz's face was white from indignation and shame
According to Duckwitz, 1 October was set as the zero hour and Hans
Hedtoft immediately warned C.B. Henriques, the head the Jewish
Melchior, the acting
chief Rabbi of the Krystalgade Synagogue.
Dr. Marcus Melchior
September 29th, two days before the projected round up on Rosh
HaShannah, the Jewish New Year, Dr. Marcus Melchior implored his stunned
congregants and the whole Jewish community to go into hiding
"The situation is very serious. We must take action
immediately. You must leave the synagogue now and contact all
relatives, friends and neighbors you know who are Jewish and tell
them what I have told you, " Marcus Melchior said. "You
must also speak to your Christian friends and ask them to warn any
Jews they know. You must do this immediately, within the next few
minutes, so that two or three hours from now everyone will know what
is happening. By nightfall we must all be in hiding."
Two German passenger ships, docked in Copenhagen’s
port, were ready to ship approximately 5,000 Jews to Germany on
their way to kz camp Theresienstadt. Buses were to take the
remaining 2,500 ...
word was passed and the Danes responded quickly, organizing a
nationwide effort to smuggle the Jews by sea to neutral Sweden. The Danes
dropped everything to help family members, neighbors, or friends and
offered their support, conveying
warnings and finding places for the Jews to hide. The Danes felt that
persecution of minorities was a breach of Danish culture and they
were not prepared to stand for it.
all strata of Danish society and in all parts of the country,
clergymen, civil servants, doctors, store owners, farmers, fishermen
and teachers protected the Jews.
taxi driver was reported to have telephoned every person with a
Jewish name he could find in the telephone directory.
A united Lutheran Church
persistently challenged the German offensive. Many Torahs from Rabbi
Melchior’s synagogue were hidden a few blocks away in the crypt of
Trinity Church. Dr. Koster, who was in charge of Bispebjerg
Hospital, was instrumental in arranging for hundreds of Jews to be
hidden at the hospital before they made their escape to Sweden. The
psychiatric building and the nurses' quarters were filled with
refugees, who were all fed from the hospital kitchen. Virtually the
entire medical staff at the hospital cooperated to save Jewish
lives. Once it became known among Danes what the hospital was doing,
money was donated from all over the country.
Danish police and coast guard also took sides with the oppressed by
refusing to assist in the manhunt. Not to mention the Wehrmacht
soldiers, some of whom looked the other way - moved by either
compassion or bribes.
make their escape, many refugees were driven to the coast in
ambulances belonging to the hospital. Local fishermen agreed, for a
price, to transport them to Sweden. But they weren't safe yet.
Successfully completing the two-mile boat trip without being
intercepted by German patrol boats was not easy.