Compare: % of Jews who died in countries under Axis control:
- 90% Germany, Austria, Poland, Baltic countries
- 89% Bohemia, Moravia
- 83% Slovakia
- 77% Greece
- 75% Netherlands (Anne Frank)
- 70% Hungary
- 65% Belarus
- 60% Belgium, Yugoslavia
- 50% Romania
- 41% Norway
- 26% France
- 22% Bulgaria
- 20% Italy, Luxembourg
- 1% Denmark
Of Denmark’s 7,500 Jews, only 500 (7%) were rounded up. And of those, only 51 (10%) died. So overall, only 0.7% of Danish Jews died in the Holocaust.
Germany needed Denmark for its food but wanted to avoid a costly occupation. So it let Denmark keep its king and its government, choosing indirect rule.
Another country where they did that was Bulgaria. In both cases the king, having to walk a fine line between cooperation and collaboration, refused to give up his country’s Jews. (Bulgaria lost only 22% of its Jews.)
King Christian X of Denmark (pictured at top) told the Germans that if Danish Jews were made to wear a yellow star, he would wear a yellow star too. So, unlike many other countries, no Jew in Denmark was made to wear a yellow star.
When the government found out that Jews were going to be rounded up – the government resigned. Leaders from different parties came together and issued a joint statement:
“The Danish Jews are an integral part of the people, and therefore all the people are deeply affected by the measures taken, which are seen as a violation of the Danish sense of justice.”
When the Gestapo asked the police to help them kick down doors and round up Jews – the police refused.
When the Gestapo arrived in Gilleleje and shined a flashlight in the face of a villager and told him that it is written in the Bible that this shall be the fate of the Jews, the villager said:
“But it is not written that it has to happen in Gilleleje.”
An underground railroad sprang up to get Jews secretly to the coast where fishermen in places like Gilleleje took them across to Sweden, a neutral country.
When Adolf Eichmann himself arrived in Denmark to see what was going on, he found that nearly all of the country’s Jews were – gone. All that was left were some people who were part Jewish or married to Jews. Eichmann called off any further deportations.
The 500 Jews that were rounded up were sent to the Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto near Prague in Bohemia. But even then the Danish government did not give up on them. After protests, the deported Danish Jews were allowed to receive letters and even some care packages. In the end only 51 died.
Danes gave up their communists but not their Jews. Danes saw themselves as citizens of a democracy. That made communists, as anti-democrats, part of a “them”, but made Jews part of “us”. The first step in any genocide is to divide people into an “us” and a “them”. The Danes stood together, Jewish and Christian.
– Abagond, 2015.
Sources: Mainly Michael Ignatieff in the New Republic (2013).
- Harriet Tubman
- Larycia Hawkins – reminded me of King Christian X