Resistance to the Holocaust

The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Denmark during World War 2.

On October 1st 1943 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported. Despite great personal risk, the Danish Resistance Movement with the assistance of many ordinary Danish citizens took part in a collective effort to evacuate about 8,000 Jews from Denmark by sea to nearby neutral Sweden. The rescue allowed the vast majority of Denmark’s Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis and is considered to be one of the largest actions of collective resistance to repression in the countries occupied by Nazi Germany. As a result of the rescue and Danish intercession on behalf of the 5% of Danish Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt transit camp in Bohemia over 99% of Denmark’s Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

The improvisational nature of the early phases of the rescue was particularly notable. When Danish civil servants at several levels in different ministries learned of the German plan to round up all Danish Jews, they independently pursued various measures to find the Jews and hide them. Some simply phoned friends and asked them to go through telephone books and warn those with Jewish-sounding names to go into hiding. Most Jews hid for several days or weeks before being smuggled to Sweden, which offered asylum to all Danish Jews who reached its shores

More details at:

Who made the rescue possible?

On September 28, 1943, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, (1904-73), a German diplomat, after secretly making sure Sweden would receive Jewish refugees, leaked advanced word of the plans for the operation against Denmark’s Jews to Hans Hedtoft, chairman of the Danish Social Democratic Party who contacted the Resistance who notified the Jewish community.

This is Georg:

This posting is in memory of my Danish friend the late Hans Thostrup, who first told me of this story and other childhood reminiscences of growing up under the Nazi occupation.

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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