Published in Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception, Photographs and text by Judy Glickman Lauder (Aperture, 2018)
Violence directed largely at racial, ethnic, and religious groups dominated the twentieth century. It continues its deadly run in the twenty-first century as well. Populations have been devastated. New concepts of human rights have barely contained rapacious destruction and warfare. The powerful sweep of destruction has overwhelmed vulnerable minorities. Historians, social scientists, philosophers, journalists, and artists can scarcely keep up with macabre events—past and present. Yet, there is another equally important history that has been explored: resistance, resilience, and the protection of beleaguered minorities by courageous individuals, communities, and, in all too few instances, nations themselves.
Connecting these two extremes, through stunning photographic imagery, is the deliberate work of Judy Glickman Lauder. She starts with dark images of World War II sites in the people-less landscapes of the concentration and extermination camps in Poland and Czechoslovakia. And then, in reverse, she moves west to Denmark to capture the narrative of individual and group flight and rescue—a stunning exception in the history of the Holocaust. Glickman Lauder’s bold vision directs the eye and mind from catastrophe to deliverance, from the horrific to the hopeful, from the black forbidding spaces of the camps to the strong light of the Danish portraits—survivors and rescuers.
The history of the Second World War and the Holocaust is critically important for understanding our postwar world, seemingly dedicated through universal doctrines to human rights and the protection of vulnerable minorities. The unfathomable scale of Nazi violence and destruction remains a compelling source of historical investigation and popular fascination. So do instances of resistance and resilience. The war and Holocaust evoke evil against good, paranoia and hatred versus empathy and moral rectitude—and the limitless parameters of behaviors and attitudes that fell between the extremes. The historian Omer Bartov has sought to explain the impact:
More than fifty years have passed since the final defeat of Nazism and yet its presence in our minds seems to be stronger than ever. This demands explanation. After all, public interest in events of the past normally diminishes as they recede in time. Younger generations have other, more pressing concerns; even the memories of those who experienced the past will fade and lose their pertinence to a world rushing forward into the future and unwilling to waste time on history. But the case of Nazism, and especially of the Holocaust, is different.
“The history of the Second World War and the Holocaust is critically important for understanding our postwar world, seemingly dedicated through universal doctrines to human rights and the protection of vulnerable minorities.”
There are episodes in history whose centrality can only be recognized from a chronological distance. The mass of inexplicable, often horrifying details is endowed with sense and meaning only retrospectively, after it has passed. Gradually such events come to cast a shadow over all that had previously seemed of greater significance, reaching backward and forward, until they finally touch our normal lives, reminding us with ever growing urgency that we are the survivors of cataclysms and catastrophes that we never experienced. The Holocaust is such an event.1
Generations since the Holocaust have taken on the challenge of working in that “shadow” and “reaching backward and forward.” It has been a complex, uneven, and episodic international task of coming to terms—unfolding in various national contexts—filled with criminal trials, restitution to survivors, scholarly work, and documentation on a vast international scale, the prodigious accumulation of memories (written and oral histories), the creation of myths, moral and religious introspection, fictional, poetic, and dramatic considerations, and artistic creations expressed in painting, sculpture, and photography. A vocabulary has developed to identify broad dimensions of the Holocaust and its often-convoluted applications to postwar conflicts. The first category: perpetrators, bystanders, and the indifferent. The second category: victims, survivors, resisters, the empathetic, and the resilient.
The Danish story fortunately belongs to the latter group, but only if one takes into account that Denmark, forced into war in April 1940, was prepared for defeat and provided little resistance to the German invasion. The war was over in sixteen hours. The government surrendered after incurring little damage. Denmark became a collaborating country—an Aryan-like country that did not incite the racial hatred of the Germans. The king did not flee for his life or express outspoken opposition. The Danish government continued to function under the light hand of German authority. The king and government disowned and discouraged acts of sabotage on the part of small, besieged Resistance movements.
“More than fifty years have passed since the final defeat of Nazism and yet its presence in our minds seems to be stronger than ever.”
However, the Danes—the king, civil servants, and population—insisted on one exception to what they would accept at the hands of the Germans. The Danes threatened outright opposition if the Jews in Denmark were isolated or punished. Conditions were met: from 1940 to 1943, Jews led utterly normal lives, no different from their Christian neighbors, avoiding the calamitous fate of other Jews throughout Europe. In the summer of 1943, however, as acts of sabotage by Resistance groups became more frequent, the Germans lost patience with policies that had protected the Danes—Jews and Christians alike—from a harsh occupation.
The Germans abandoned the so-called “model protectorate,” took control of the government, and moved to capture all the Jews in Denmark. Suddenly in late September and early October, a vast network of Danish resisters emerged to hide Jews and help them to escape the country. In a matter of weeks, 7,056 Jews and 686 non-Jewish spouses escaped to Sweden, aided by their Christian countrymen. Four hundred and seventy-two Jews were captured and sent to Theresienstadt for the duration of the war, but German leaders in Denmark agreed that none of the Jews would be sent east to the death camps. Fifty Danes died of starvation within the first six months of imprisonment. After that, Danish civil servants and nongovernmental groups ensured the survival of the Jews in the camp by sending them food, vitamins, and clothing. A month before the end of the war Swedish and Danish white buses liberated the Jews from the camp and drove them to safety in Sweden. At the end of the war, the Jews were welcomed back from Sweden, with the great majority of their homes and businesses intact. The Jewish community endured.
“However, the Danes—the king, civil servants, and population—insisted on one exception to what they would accept at the hands of the Germans. The Danes threatened outright opposition if the Jews in Denmark were isolated or punished.”
The flight and rescue of Jews in Denmark in 1943 is often understood, especially in the United States, as part history, part myth, and part fairy tale. This is a good story—a defiant story of resistance that seems to right, in the smallest of ways, the malignant and manifold wrongs of the Holocaust. The history, however, is deeply complex with multiple trajectories and causes. It involves a set of attitudes, practices, and actions that came to a climax in the fall of 1943 when the Jews in Denmark faced imminent deportation to concentration and extermination camps in the East.
There was widespread frustration and anger within the Danish population over serving the German idea of the “model protectorate.” Progressive, democratic values strongly emphasized both group and individual responsibilities—attitudes that drew upon Danish Lutheran beliefs imbued in the educational and political life of the country. An inclusive Danish social system, developed after World War I, greatly reduced class conflicts and allowed for the continuing integration and assimilation of the small Jewish community. The persistent activities of Denmark’s small, tenacious Resistance movement, growing ever stronger by 1943, infuriated the German command. A conflicted German leadership in Denmark compromised its roundup of the Jews and enabled thousands to escape deportation to the East. And finally, the natural proximity of a country situated close to neutral Sweden, which by 1943 was willing to accept thousands of Jews as well as Danish insurgents in flight from the Germans, contributed to the rescue.
At the conclusion of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, the author Tony Judt affirms: “The Holocaust today is much more than just another undeniable fact about a past that Europeans can no longer choose to ignore. As Europe prepares to leave World War II behind—as the last memorials are inaugurated, the last surviving combatants and victims honored—the recovered memory of Europe’s dead Jews has become the very definition and guarantee of the continent’s restored humanity.”2
“In a matter of weeks, 7,056 Jews and 686 non-Jewish spouses escaped to Sweden, aided by their Christian countrymen. Four hundred and seventy-two Jews were captured and sent to Theresienstadt for the duration of the war, but German leaders in Denmark agreed that none of the Jews would be sent east to the death camps. Fifty Danes died of starvation within the first six months of imprisonment. After that, Danish civil servants and nongovernmental groups ensured the survival of the Jews in the camp by sending them food, vitamins, and clothing.“
As rescuers the Danes have a special claim to participate in Europe’s “restored humanity.” They defined empathy and defied indifference. The Danish story is overwhelmingly one of resisters and survivors through a collective national fight on behalf of a beleaguered and defenseless minority.
Today, that profound message is under challenge. Yes, the Danish model of individual and collective action and the fulfillment of human rights ideals in response to the Holocaust have striking relevance in light of recent devastating wars in Rwanda, Bosnia, Sudan, and several Middle Eastern countries. But at home many European countries have failed to integrate and assimilate large foreign-born populations and their European-born children. Massive numbers of refugees from the Middle East and Africa are testing human rights principles in Europe. The Danish example, once heralded for protecting a minority, is of a different ilk in 2018. Today Denmark has closed it borders to refugees to preserve its welfare state and cohesive tribal identity. European countries are in crisis over diversity and national cohesion and security. The stability of Europe, torn over diversity, is once again at stake.
A Narrative of the Rescue
“As rescuers the Danes have a special claim to participate in Europe’s “restored humanity.” They defined empathy and defied indifference. The Danish story is overwhelmingly one of resisters and survivors through a collective national fight on behalf of a beleaguered and defenseless minority.”
Four months after Adolf Hitler assumed office as the appointed chancellor of the German government, the king of Denmark joined the Jewish community in celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Krystalgade synagogue in Copenhagen. On April 12, 1933, King Christian X became the first Danish monarch to visit the chief rabbi and his congregation. By his presence, the monarch solidified the connection between the Danish government, its people, and a religious minority of approximately seven thousand Jews. The relationship between the royal leader and his public had a particularly Danish complexion: modest deference, quiet admiration, and accessibility—all somewhat unusual characteristics in Europe’s royal domains. The Jewish community, traditionally vulnerable and dependent upon royal favor, basked in its loyalty to and confidence in the king.
The invitation and acceptance were arranged many months before tumultuous political changes in Germany brought Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to power. Apprehensive about increasing tensions between Denmark and its German neighbor, the Danish Jewish community inquired in early 1933 if the king would like to decline the invitation to attend the ceremony. King Christian’s response was firm: if he had not been invited before, in view of the recent developments in Germany, he would want—and insist—on being in attendance. As far as the king was concerned, the anti-Semitic policies of the new German government would not be allowed to cross the Danish-German border. His response was built upon Danish dedication to democratic values as well as a latent but firm anti-German sentiment among the Danish nation of 4.5 million people. To a great extent relations between Denmark and Germany continued to be shaped by the 1864 military encounter during which Denmark was thoroughly defeated.
Like all other Western countries, including the United States, Denmark in the 1930s was essentially a closed nation. Despite Denmark’s concern about Germany’s treatment of its Jewish population, Denmark welcomed only a few thousand Jews seeking safety from threatening conditions in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. And, despite German military aggressions in the Rhineland, Czechoslovakia, and Austria in the 1930s, Denmark did nothing to prepare itself against a possible German incursion. It simply hoped that it would be spared from another European war, as had been the case from 1914 to 1918.
“As far as the king was concerned, the anti-Semitic policies of the new German government would not be allowed to cross the Danish-German border.”
It was not the case. In September 1939, Germany conquered Poland and set off the soft trigger of English and French resistance. Seven months later, the German military turned to the West. Denmark was one of the first targets. A month later, Germany invaded the Netherlands and then France. Unlike the Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, and French, who fought hard but futilely against the Germans, Denmark gave in to the conquerors after a few shots, a few hours of uncertainty, and a few casualties. Danes and Germans quickly worked out the terms of occupation. King Christian X remained in Denmark, unlike his fellow monarchs in Norway and the Netherlands, who fled to escape the Germans and establish Resistance movements in England. The Danish government continued to rule. The Danes agreed to supply rich agricultural produce and other goods to the Germans. In exchange for acquiescence, the Danes—all Danes, except for the Communists—were left in relative peace.
There was, however, one unusual aspect of this capitulation to German domination. From the moment of occupation and Danish accommodation, the Danes insisted that all of the Jews in Denmark—both those who were citizens and the approximately 1,500 who had found refuge during the 1930s—were to be treated like all other Danes. The Jews were not to be isolated or to be subject to rules such as the Nuremberg Laws in Germany. Amazingly, the Germans accepted this as a condition of occupation, although it was understood that the Jews would not assume conspicuous public roles.
When King Christian X took his daily horseback ride through Copenhagen, his subjects greeted him as a reassuring symbol of the Danish nation. From the king, there were flickers of anti-German sentiment—subtle cues about his discomfort with the Germans. Yet, the king and government opposed any acts of Resistance groups and even approved the service of six thousand Danish soldiers who fought with the Waffen-SS on Germany’s Eastern Front. Despite a popular postwar myth, the king never wore the yellow Star of David. However, when the king was faced with the possibility in 1941 that the Germans might impose this upon the Jewish community, he recorded in the privacy of his diary that he and others would wear it in solidarity with the Jews. The king might have told his finance minister of his intent. Such a disclosure could have become the basis for the irrepressible myth that he wore the Star of David as he rode horseback in Copenhagen.3
“The Danish government continued to rule. The Danes agreed to supply rich agricultural produce and other goods to the Germans. In exchange for acquiescence, the Danes—all Danes, except for the Communists—were left in relative peace.“
Not all Danes, however, accepted the state of conciliation and calm that prevailed with the king and government. Some, such as Henrik Kauffmann (the Danish Ambassador to the United States during the war years), Dr. Jørgen Kieler, and Frode Jakobsen, opposed German rule and racist values—however weakly imposed on Denmark. Soon after the invasion, many went underground as part of a small, fragile Danish Resistance movement. For example in the war, Per Federspiel4 became the paymaster general of the Resistance, specifically of the Danish operations of the Special Operations Executive. Winston Churchill formed this top-secret organization in 1940 to support Resistance movements in the occupied countries. Federspiel received money from Britain, but also collected money in Denmark from early 1942. For those in the Resistance movement, King Christian X was a symbol of docility—not resistance—and the abandonment of Danish democratic values. For three years, the movement had hardly any support from the king, government, or population at large. Little by little clandestine operations of sabotage and harassment—aided by British intelligence operatives—affected the German occupation, the Danish people, and the model protectorate.
Decisions made in Germany, both overt and hidden, transformed Denmark from 1940 on, when the German government ordered the invasion of the small country to the north. The intent of subjugation was clear. The Final Solution, however, the commitment to exterminate all the Jews in Europe, was made in secret in 1942 at the Wannsee Conference, close to Berlin. Deceit was key as one country under occupation after another dropped into the web of genocide.
The turning point for the Jews in Denmark came in the summer of 1943 when German authorities insisted that the Danish government execute their countrymen who were in the Resistance movement. The Danes would not turn on their own—except against the Communists. The Danish government resigned and abdicated authority to the Germans. In August and September, the Danes suddenly had had enough of their own supine behavior. Denmark’s deep-seated, traditional anti-German sentiment rose to the surface. In those crucial weeks, the nation turned toward the underground and gave widespread support to the Resistance forces.
Taking control of the Danish government, the Germans set out to deport all the Jews in Denmark to concentration camps in the East. The situation, from late August through the first weeks in October 1943, was exceedingly complex. To this day, German intentions are not completely understood. Two contradictory forces were at work. The first goal was finally to capture Jews in Denmark and send them to concentration and extermination camps in Central and Eastern Europe. The second goal was to keep Denmark quiet and free from widespread resistance to German control. Historical accounts are clouded by the machinations—marked both by cooperation with Danish officials and aggressive anti-Jewish actions—of Werner Best, the presiding German general in control of Denmark, and Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, the maritime expert in the German legation. Internal power struggles and competing objectives within the German command in Berlin and Copenhagen led Duckwitz to reveal the plans of the roundup of the Jews to Danish leaders and those in neutral Sweden. However confusing or contradictory the signals, there was little question that the Jews faced capture and deportation. The Resistance groups went into action. And so did the Danish people.
On September 29, two days before the projected roundup on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Marcus Melchior, the acting chief rabbi of the Krystalgade synagogue, implored his stunned congregants and the whole Jewish community to go into hiding immediately. Two passenger ships, docked in Copenhagen’s port, were ready to ship approximately five thousand Jews to Germany on their way to Theresienstadt. Buses were to take the remaining two thousand.
“First hidden in hospitals, homes, churches, and schools, the Jews were then guided by their compatriots through cities, villages, forests, and railroad stations to fishing boats in coastal towns. Funds were raised to pay fishermen who risked their boats and livelihoods to defy the Germans. At night, Jews were hidden in vessels and carried across the Øresund to safety in Sweden.“
Suddenly Danish Jews, who had made few preparations for a possible roundup, had to flee. Decisions had to be made in a matter of hours and days about the dangers ahead: the safety of fleeing with infants and young children; whom to trust along the treacherous routes of escape. Fortunately, Danish Christians were ready to face the danger that faced the Jews. From all strata of Danish society and in all parts of the country, clergymen, civil servants, doctors, nurses, students, store owners, farmers, fishermen, and teachers protected the Jews.
A united Lutheran church openly and persistently challenged the German offensive. Many Torahs from Rabbi Melchior’s synagogue were hidden a few blocks away in the crypt of Trinity Church. Bispebjerg Hospital admitted two thousand Jews with fictitious names, illnesses, or death certificates. The hospitals were a refuge as Danish doctors hid the Jews from the Germans. (How different from the Nazi doctors in the extermination camps who used their profession to experiment in diabolical ways on Jews and other prisoners.) First hidden in hospitals, homes, churches, and schools, the Jews were then guided by their compatriots through cities, villages, forests, and railroad stations to fishing boats in coastal towns. Funds were raised to pay fishermen who risked their boats and livelihoods to defy the Germans. At night, Jews were hidden in vessels and carried across the Øresund to safety in Sweden. With this extraordinary escape route at hand, and Sweden just across the sound, in just a few weeks, 7,056 Jews fled to safety, as well as 686 non-Jewish spouses.
The Danish acts of bravery and concern did not end with those dramatic weeks in the fall of 1943. Danes continued to protect the unfortunate 472 Jews whom the Germans were able to capture. An agreement was worked out involving German officials Werner Best and Adolf Eichmann and Danish civil servants to keep the Jews from Denmark in Theresienstadt—away from Poland and the extermination camps. Almost all of the Danish Jews, living in horrific conditions in the camp, nonetheless survived through the solicitude and support of the Danish civil service and church organizations. Fifty Jews died of starvation in the first six months of incarceration before aid started arriving from Denmark in the spring of 1944. Month after month, the Danes sent over seven hundred packages of clothing, food, and vitamins to the Jews in the camp. In June 1944, at the insistence of Danish leadership, the Danish Red Cross inspected Theresienstadt to ascertain the condition of their Jewish compatriots. The Germans sought to cover up the most severe conditions from the Red Cross. The inspection, a charade of deceit, resulted in little improvement for the captured Danes.
“As Rabbi Bent Melchior, the former chief rabbi of Denmark, has said: it was not unusual for Jews to have to leave their homes—in this they were usually aided by others, eager to see them go. But to be welcomed home by their countrymen—that was unique! In this, as in so many other aspects of their existence, the Danish Jews were unique among European Jews.“
One month before the Second World War ended, the Danes arranged for Swedish relief officials to liberate the remaining Danish Jews from the camp. In white buses, the Jews were driven through Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Denmark en route to safety in Sweden. After the Allied victory, Danish Jews returned to their homes and businesses. A considerable number of them found that neighbors, friends, and civil servants had protected the assets of those in Sweden. On behalf of the absent Jews, many Danes insured that rents and taxes were paid and most properties guarded from theft until the Jews returned safely to Denmark. There were other Jews, however, who found that their properties had been violated in varying ways.
Within Europe’s formerly democratic nations that the Germans occupied, the Danish Jewish community was the only one that escaped devastation and destruction. Ninety-nine percent of the Jewish population was rescued and survived the war years. Thus 6,500 Jews, refugees in Sweden after the escape from Denmark in 1943, returned to their homes two and a half years later. Imbued with memories of escape and the dislocation of living outside their country, they were filled with deep gratitude to their Danish countrymen.
For almost all of the Danish Jews, the return from Sweden was a reassuring experience: they had survived, practically intact; their faith in Denmark and gratitude toward the Danes for resisting German anti-Semitism was immense; in most, but certainly not all, instances, their properties were theirs to reclaim. As Rabbi Bent Melchior, the former chief rabbi of Denmark, has said: it was not unusual for Jews to have to leave their homes—in this they were usually aided by others, eager to see them go. But to be welcomed home by their countrymen—that was unique! In this, as in so many other aspects of their existence, the Danish Jews were unique among European Jews. Nonetheless, for the approximately four hundred Jews who returned to Denmark after imprisonment in the concentration camp, the postwar years were difficult and painful. Recovery from trauma was submerged beneath gratitude to those who had protected them in Theresienstadt. The survivors, especially those who were children, buried the traumas of near-death and violent loss under the collective weight of appreciation, as individuals and part of the Danish Jewish community, toward their country.
Many circumstances made Denmark unique but it was not, as some Americans are wont to believe, a country of saints. It was a collaborating country that until 1943 gave little support to those in the Resistance and thereby experienced a relatively benign occupation by the Germans. Denmark was a relatively lucky country situated close to neutral Sweden, a nation that became friendlier to the Allies after Stalingrad and thus receptive to the escaping Jews. None of these circumstances, however, detract from the critical fact that the Danish nation refused to accede to German definitions of racial degradation and German solutions to racial differences. Moral, religious, and political traditions, developed from the nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, impelled the Danes to resist anti-Semitism and the frenzy of German theft, destruction, and extermination. In the service of Christian and democratic ideals—through a unique configuration of individual and institutional initiatives—Danes achieved collective morality in the pursuit of collective resistance, resilience, and rescue.
Ultimately, the Danish people and their Resistance movement responded to the vital mandates of a civilized society. The Danes explain their behavior as simply that of normal people protecting their own. But it is not that simple, as the initial members of the Danish Resistance knew so well. For three years, they worked to get the Danish people to oppose the Germans. The Danes, qua nation, finally came to the side of the Resistance in response to the ethical, moral imperatives of a civilized society.
Denmark was the national exception to the Holocaust. And yet, over the years, the country’s understanding of its own past has been suffused with contradictions: pride over the protective relationship to the Jews, tempered by the traditional Danish attitude of discounting the heroic; pride versus the recognition that Denmark closed its borders to multitudes of Jewish refugees in the 1930s; pride versus the acknowledgment that the Jews, upon their return to Denmark, had suffered deeply in Theresienstadt and drew little recognition of the hideous treatment in the camp; and pride over the rescue versus the indisputable fact that Denmark expired in immediate military defeat and collaborated for three and a half years with the German Nazi state. Danish historians and the country as a whole will continue to ponder this complex history of collaboration and resistance: collaboration to save the country from a destructive German occupation and resistance to anti-Semitism and genocide.
“The way in which the civilian population assisted both the Danish and stateless Jews in October 1943 remains without precedent or parallel,” writes Danish historian Bo Lidegaard in Countrymen, his definitive work on the rescue. He concludes that “the escape of the Danish Jews was due to the penetration deep into the population of the idea that everyone who declared themselves part of democracy belonged to the national community. Because of this a great majority of Danes knew that the intimidation of one individual is a threat to the entire society.”5
Questions will continue to challenge our understanding of the past as well as help guide us in defining our obligations in the present. Notwithstanding the complex nature of Danish attitudes and actions in the 1930s and 1940s as well as the enigma of German complicity in the rescue, one fact is clear. Denmark was unique. Indisputably, it is the only nation in Western Europe that can commemorate the rescue of its Jewish population from the Holocaust.
“‘[T]he escape of the Danish Jews was due to the penetration deep into the population of the idea that everyone who declared themselves part of democracy belonged to the national community. Because of this a great majority of Danes knew that the intimidation of one individual is a threat to the entire.'”
- Omer Bartov, “The Last German,” The New Republic, December 28, 1998, p. 34.
- Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (New York: Penguin Press, 2005), p. 804.
- The king had a conversation on September 10, 1941, with Danish Minister of Finance Vilhelm Buhl. According to the king’s notes from the meeting, Buhl made the following comments at the end of the conversation: “Considering the inhumane treatment of Jews not only in Germany, but also in the occupied countries, one began to worry whether at some point we might also be faced with such a demand, but we must entirely dismiss it with reference to their legal position under the Act of Constitution. I said that I would not accept any such demand against Danish citizens either. If such a demand was made, the best way to oppose it would be for us all to wear the Star of David. The Minister of Finance added that this could always be a way out.” Knud J. V. Jespersen, Rytterkongen—Etportrætaf Christian 10 (Rider king: a portrait of Christian 10), 2nd edition (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 2009), pp. 441–42.
- When the Jews needed to escape to Sweden, Per Federspiel was able to buy fishing boats and pay fishermen. He personally provided legal assistance for children, who were too sick to be transported to Sweden so that they could be adopted by Danish families. Gestapo agents arrested Federspiel twice as a suspected mastermind behind the Resistance. During repeated interrogations he never admitted his involvement; he was abruptly released from Frøslev prison camp on March 19, 1945, where he had been characterized as an “enemy of the State,” which normally led to execution or deportation to a concentration camp in Germany or Poland. After the war Federspiel was one of three Danes awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
- 5. Bo Lidegaard, Countrymen: The Untold Story of How Denmark’s Jews Escaped the Nazis, of the Courage of Their Fellow Danes—and of the Extraordinary Role of the SS, trans. Robert Maas (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), pp. 363, 366.