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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Today is the 66th anniversary of the rescue of the Danish Jews.

If you don’t know the story, let me sum it up for you: at the end of August, 1943 the country of Denmark was finally fully taken over by Nazi Germany.  This meant, among other things, that the Jewish population of Denmark (roughly 8,000) was now in deadly danger: the Danish government had been, up to that point, politely, respectfully, and absolutely inflexibly refusing to allow Nazi Germany to persecute its Jewish citizens.  While the story that the King of Denmark himself wore the yellow star is not true, what is true is that no Danish Jew did – and if you think that this is a minor point, well, no, it’s not: things like the star were the tools used to isolate Jews from the larger community, thus making it possible to go on with sequestering them into ghettos, then taking them away to be murdered.

So.  When the Danish government was taken out of the picture as an independent entity, the Nazis suddenly had a clear hand to take away the Danish Jews on October 1, 1943 – only a (German) diplomat got word of the planned deportation, and on September 28, 1943, tipped off the Danes.  Who then proceeded to smuggle their Jewish population out of the country and to Sweden in an ad hoc, spur-of-the-moment rescue mission.  The few that the Nazis swept up continued to be protected by the Danes; in marked contrast to other nations, Denmark constantly raised a stink about Danish Jews, resulting in their being transferred to a relatively safe concentration camp and allowed Red Cross supplies.  It is estimated that the actions of Denmark saved roughly 95% of their Jewish population – and this, I think, says more about the stubborn decency of the Danes than anything else:

Denmark was also different and special in another way. Almost everywhere else in Europe, returning Jews found their homes had been broken into, and everything of value stolen. When the Danish Jews returned , they discovered that their homes, pets, gardens and personal belongings were cared for by their neighbors.

What with the various thiings going on in and to the USA right now, it might surprise some of you to hear that the President is actually going to Copenhagen (capital of Denmark) this week. To plead for a Chicago venue for the 2016 Olympics.

[redacted] the Olympics.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.

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