The Danish resistance to Nazi occupation contains many chapters, each with dazzling tactics and creative solutions. There is none more jaw dropping, however, than the Danish people’s rescue of 7,220 of their 7,800 Jews. On September 28th, 1943, Nazi occupation forces intended to arrest the entire Jewish population of Denmark and transport them to concentration camps. Word of the plan leaked, however, and thousands of Danes hid the Jews in their homes. Fishermen ferried the Jews across the ocean to nearby Sweden, saving all but a few hundred people.
The rescue was facilitated by a few factors: a German diplomat, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, not only leaked the warning of the round-up, he had also attempted earlier to secure asylum for the Danish Jews in Sweden. The Jewish population of Denmark was held in high regard, and fully integrated into society. The Nazis’ earlier attempts to discriminate against the Jews had been roundly rebuffed by the Danes. When the orders of the round-up occurred, Danish citizens saw it as an affront to all Danes, and mobilized to protect their fellow countrymen and women.
The question this raises for us, as American citizens, is would we do the same? During World War II, we allowed our fellow citizens of Japanese descent to be interred in camps. We allow our political figures to spout anti-Muslim rhetoric and threaten to put all Muslims and refugees in camps. When our turn comes, will we stand up with organized nonviolent action and protect our fellow human beings? Do we have in our hearts, the greatness of spirit demonstrated by the Danes?
And if not, let us begin the work of changing our culture. Let us assert the values of human dignity, our shared humanity, human rights and civil rights. In conversation, writing, on the radio, and in our actions, we must put forth the values for which we stand. Only then, when the moment of crisis comes, can we be assured that our populace will respond in a way that will withstand the critique of history.
Learn more about the rescue of the Jewish Danes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_of_the_Danish_Jews
Learn more about Danish Resistance to Nazi occupation: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/danish-citizens-resist-nazis-1940-1945
Photo Credit: Danish Jews Being Transported to Sweden. By Nationalmuseet – National Museum of Denmark from Denmark – Båd med jøder på vej fra Falster til Ystad i SverigeUploaded by Palnatoke, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21705600
This article is from Rivera Sun’s book of nonviolent histories that have made our world. Click here for more information.
Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She’s a love-based revolutionary and the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Way Between and ten other fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice, and have appeared in over a hundred journals nationwide. Rivera Sun speaks and facilitates workshops in strategy for nonviolent change across the country and around the world. She connects the dots between the issues, shares solutionary ideas, and inspires people to step up to the challenge of being a part of the story of change in our times. www.riverasun.com