Seventy years ago

Posted by Helen Tuesday, October 01, 2013 , ,

Yesterday's anniversary of Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich with that famous piece of paper in his hands requires a longish blog, on which I am working. In the meantime, let me remind readers of another anniversary, one that shows the triumph of humanity over barbarity.

October 1, 1943 was going to be the date on which the SS would round up the 7,800 Jews of Denmark, arguing that as the evening was that of Rosh Hashanah, they would all be at home. Instead, almost all of them had been warned, gone into hiding and were taken out of the country to Sweden, many to continue their journey onwards. Notable among those was the great physicist, Niels Bohr who was taken to the United States immediately.

This short summary on the Yad Vashem website mentions that the Danes were awarded the Righteous Among Nations title and also that large sums of money were paid to the sailors who agreed to take the refugees to Sweden.

For once, I suggest going to Wikipedia, which gives a much more detailed analysis, naming some of the rescuers, explaining the role of the German diplomat, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz and adding

At first, a few "bad apples" among the fishermen assisting in the rescue charged an excessive sum of money to transport Jews to Sweden, but most took just a modest payments from those who could pay for the passage or were helped by funds supplied by the organizers. The Danish underground took an active role in organizing the rescue and providing financing, mostly from wealthy Danes who donated large sums of money to the endeavor.
Not all were rescued. About 450 were arrested by the Gestapo and some perished during the journey. It was, nevertheless a stupendous effort in which large sections of the Danish population were involved directly with the support of others. It is a little sad to hear that the story of King Christian X wearing the yellow star because the Jews were his subjects, too, is a myth but the truth is quite honourable enough.

Denmark marked the anniversary a couple of days ago, on the anniversary of when the Jews were actually warned.

1 Responses to Seventy years ago

  1. John Says:
  2. I was looking through the GCSE curriculum and guides and could not find any reference to the political origins of fascism and nazism. As far as I could make out from GCSE history our children are being taught that Hitler was a right wing conservative. The emphasis on Nazis and Fascists in the GCSEs seems to be to give a "warning from history".

    A real warning would have mentioned that Mussolini was a revolutionary socialist and Hitler took over the left wing German Workers Party. See Mussolini and Hitler grew out of Communism and Socialism.

    The GCSE curriculum also makes little of the fact that Stalin and Hitler had a pact that went much further than the partition of Poland. As Churchill mentions, there were trains flowing from Russia to Germany that were full of military materials even as the Germans attacked the Russians.

    How can we truly warn our children when history is being retold with a blatant political bias?

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