Countrymen: The Untold Story of How Denmark's Jews Escaped the Nazis

Countrymen The Untold Story of How Denmark s Jews Escaped the Nazis Amid the dark ghastly history of World War II the literally extraordinary story never before fully researched by a historian of how the Danish people banded together to save their fellow Jews from

  • Title: Countrymen: The Untold Story of How Denmark's Jews Escaped the Nazis
  • Author: Bo Lidegaard
  • ISBN: 9781782391449
  • Page: 359
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Amid the dark, ghastly history of World War II, the literally extraordinary story, never before fully researched by a historian, of how the Danish people banded together to save their fellow Jews from the Nazis told through the remarkable unpublished diaries and documents of families forced to run for safety, leaving their homes and possessions behind, and of those who coAmid the dark, ghastly history of World War II, the literally extraordinary story, never before fully researched by a historian, of how the Danish people banded together to save their fellow Jews from the Nazis told through the remarkable unpublished diaries and documents of families forced to run for safety, leaving their homes and possessions behind, and of those who courageously came to their aid In 1943, with its king and administration weakened but intact during the Nazi occupation, Denmark did something that no other country in Western Europe even attempted Anticipating that the German occupying powers would soon issue the long feared order to round up the entire population of Jews for deportation to concentration camps, the Danish people stood up in defiance and resisted The king, politicians, and ordinary civilians were united in their response these threatened people were not simply Jews but fellow Danes who happened to be Jewish, and no one would help in rounding them up for confinement and deportation While diplomats used their limited but very real power to maneuver and impede matters in both Copenhagen and Berlin, the warning that the crisis was at hand quickly spread through the Jewish community Over fourteen harrowing days, as they were helped, hidden, and protected by ordinary people who spontaneously rushed to save their fellow citizens, an incredible 7,742 out of 8,200 Jewish refugees were smuggled out all along the coast on ships, schooners, fishing boats, anything that floated to Sweden While the bare facts of this exodus have been known for decades, astonishingly no full history of it has been written Unfolding on a day to day basis, Countrymen brings together accounts written by individuals and officials as events happened, offering a comprehensive overview that underlines occupied Denmark s historical importance to Hitler as a prop for the model Nazi state and revealing the savage conflict among top Nazi brass for control of the country This is a story of ordinary glory, of simple courage and moral fortitude that shines out in the midst of the terrible history of the twentieth century and demonstrates how it was possible for a small and fragile democracy to stand against the Third Reich.

    One thought on “Countrymen: The Untold Story of How Denmark's Jews Escaped the Nazis”

    1. Here, in time for the 70th anniversary of the rescue, in October 1943, of Denmark's Jewish residents from the Holocaust. It seems to be the first full Danish account of the event, using new research, notably the diaries by people who took part in the event. It's not the first work focused on this rescue: Leni Yahil's 1967 work "The Rescue of Danish Jewry: Test of a Democracy", which Mr. Lidegaard cites, came first. Nonetheless, Bo Lidegaard has given us a full account of the attempted German rou [...]

    2. A history of Denmark's responses to anti-Semitic sentiment and the German occupation, from the 1930s through the direct aftermath of the end of WWII. In 1940, Germany assaulted Denmark by land, sea and air, landing troops simultaneously in fifteen different locations, including the middle of Copenhagen. The German minister to Denmark then handed the Danish government the terms and conditions by which Denmark would surrender to occupation by Germany. In return for the products of Danish agricultu [...]

    3. There are not too many books about the Holocaust that help restore the reader's faith in humanity, but this falls within that category. Quite apart from that, this is an excellent read, both as a history and as a dramatic story.Denmark had a more or less unique relationship with Nazi Germany during WW2. The King, and the Government, decided not to resist the German invasion in 1940, in exchange for guarantees that Denmark would continue to manage its internal affairs, maintain its democracy, and [...]

    4. Among many leftist Americans, there is an understandable reluctance to think that citizenship is a useful way to think about our identity, because even since the passage of the 14th Amendment, citizenship hasn’t done much for many citizens. And if the rights of citizens don’t mean anything, what good is the idea? There is a version of this argument in academic circles essentially to the effect that all anyone in power ever wants is to extend that power, so, e.g the Bill of Rights itself is s [...]

    5. “. . . an amazing story of how Denmark saved its Jews from Nazi Germany.” Among all of the nations of Europe that were conquered by Nazi Germany in World War II, Denmark stands alone in protecting its Jewish population. In 1943, when the king, his ministers, and the parliament of Denmark understood that Nazi Germany was coming to ensnare their Jewish population and send them to concentration and death camps, they simply said, “No.” While the government used its limited powers to confound [...]

    6. I had long heard the myth about King Christian not bowing to the Germans regarding identifying the Danish Jews. Little did I know the real truth. This is an amazing story of ordinary people stepping up to the plate, and no matter the consequence to themselves, doing the right thing. That a nation of people would respond with such dignity, respect and humanity, without a real organized base, is amazing. That Sweden would also respond with openness and humanity made it possible. Some of philosophi [...]

    7. Thoroughly researched and detailed, but tedious and repetitive.It was worth reading because it told of a remarkable people whose social values and unity made it difficult for the Nazis to persecute the Danish Jews. Even when it became inevitable, and all the Jews were to be rounded up in a one-night raid, most of them were warned and were hidden in the homes of their non-Jewish friends and neighbors. They were moved at great risk to ports to escape to Sweden which welcomed them. Even those who w [...]

    8. In the history of Nazi Germany's persecution of the Jews there aren't many happy stories. Usually the best we can manage is a family hidden in the attic or an individual who slipped away. But the case of Denmark, where 7,000 Danes were Jewish, stands out even if it doesn't start very promisingly.When Germany attacked in April 1940, Denmark's leaders didn't believe the country was strong enough to resist. Instead of putting up a fight, Denmark became an occupied country that still retained some s [...]

    9. There is nothing more inspiring to me than reading about true-to-life heroes. When I heard of the story of virtually all the citizens of Denmark rallying to help almost all of the Jewish people escape as Nazis invaded their country, I was astonished. You see, the Danish considered all citizens of their lands countrymen. They did not have artificial distinctions based on heritage. This was a country of "we the people," truly. Neighbors helped their Jewish neighbors as well as strangers, politicia [...]

    10. “A Matter of National Morality and Honor” Excellent, comprehensive source for the story of the spontaneous rescue of Danish Jews during the turbulent weeks of October 1943. In 14 chapters author Lidegaard conveys the march of political and racial brutality which affected All residents of Denmark—regardless of their ethnic origins or religious practices. Each chapter examines one day during the Nazi ACTION—revealing the painful soul-searching among all Danes and temporary aliens, as Berli [...]

    11. Two countries successfully resisted Nazi efforts to exterminate Jews — Bulgaria and Denmark. This book recounts how about 7,000 Danish Jews escaped a sudden crackdown in late 1943 and made their way to Sweden. Several hundred more were caught in raids and taken to concentration camps but nearly all of those survived, thanks in part to continual Danish political pressure.Lidegaard tells a deeply researched story that spans a spectrum stretching from high-level bureaucracy to intimate personal t [...]

    12. It took me awhile to make it through, but there is so much information to digest. I have long been interested in stories from World War Two and confess that all I knew of Denmark's chapter was from a book I read as a child (and now want to read again). This is a fascinating, in-depth investigation into what made Denmark's situation so unique in Nazi-controlled Europe. As I have already said, there is a lot of information presented. However, the author breaks down the action according to the day [...]

    13. Impeccable mix of primary sources woven in a mix of narrative and factual retelling. The differences of how countries reacted in the face of Nazism - especially those who RESISTED - is sadly untold in popular narrative. Particularly today, examining how an occupied country held strongly to its belief in equality under democracy and the rule of law to resist fascism and racism is (sadly) more pertinent than everI think this should be assigned Holocaust reading in every high school.

    14. Inspiring stuff. When free people stand together, all kinds of things are possibleere was a fair amount of luck involved too. This is a good account though a bit repetitive sometimes, and the author explains and debunks some of the myths about the remarkable escape to Sweden of over 80% of Denmark's Jews in October 1943.

    15. This is an historical account of the escape of Denmark's Jewish population from the attempted roundup by the German occupation force that began on October 1st, 1943 and the eventual escape of over 7,000 to neighboring Sweden. Through personal diaries the escapes of several families and individuals are portrayed as well as the more general exodus. This book thoroughly explores the conditions that occurred that allowed Denmark to save its Jewish citizens while other occupied countries with the exc [...]

    16. This is journalistic expression of the occupation in Denmark. What was incredible was the Danish support of Th. Stauning, given his stance and departure from the opposition. Very well researched topic on a small portion of a huge story that effected so many Ashkenazim.

    17. After reading about the horrible treatment of the Jews by the Dutch people in Paul Glaser's Dancing with the Enemy, it was so wonderful to read about how Denmark handled "the Jewish question."*That before being of Jewish descent, these individuals were Danish citizens or at least protected by Danish law, which did not distinguish between citizens of different creeds. There was simply no issue - and thus there could be no measures to address it.*Large differences appear in the proportion of the J [...]

    18. This is meant to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject, which means that it is sometimes a little more thorough and redundant than the average interested reader can appreciate.This is a history, not a tale of adventurous escape. Nevertheless, the use of previously undiscovered diaries and other contemporary accounts makes the book a valuable read. Also, the author goes beyond the thinking that the Danes suddenly rallied to evacuate the country's Jews to Sweden to teach us that (1) some Jews [...]

    19. I came across the story of the Danish Jews as I was teaching WWII. It, surprisingly, was barely mentioned in the books I had read in the past, so I was very excited when I heard about this book.As interesting as the story is, the book itself was a bit underwhelming. On a positive note, the author clearly did his research on the topic, using quotes from letters and diaries written by the people involved in episode – Danish citizens, Danish Jews, and Germans. The author also has some good discus [...]

    20. 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 / Bo Lidegaard. I had no idea. Therefore, the book was very interesting, more so because of family journals written contemporaneously. Fewer than one percent of Danish Jews went to concentration camps, a point of pride shared only by one other occupied country, Bulgaria. In both instances the citizens’ sense of solidarity and humanity was critic [...]

    21. As a Danish American, I was especially interested in this book. I wanted a clearer picture of what really happened in Denmark during the Nazi invasion and what Danes really did to help the Jews. This very scholarly work lays that out in great detail, following several families through journals, and following the government's actions through meticulous review of meeting minutes. And perhaps this is why the book needs a better editor. There are great stretches of discussions that seem to indicate [...]

    22. As a child of parents (as well as the rest of my family) who were saved, I have always been grateful to the people of Denmark.I never really knew what happened. It was not something my family talked about, an d I didn't know to ask questions.With this book I am finally getting a better picture, not just to the actual escape. The political background told me a lot about the people and it's values, and how they were upheld through some extremely difficult times.Well written. Highly recommended.

    23. The Danes are to be admired for their help in protecting their fellow Jewish Danes from the Germans during the War. Difficult to read at times ,only because it is a complex story as the Author shows the many "twists and turns" by many different people involved. Surprising how many of the Germans turned a blind eye to the situation considering their actions in other occupied countries. Intestinal fortitude can be a rare commodity at times but not with the people of Denmark.

    24. A new treatment about Denmark's handling of the "Jewish problem" under the Nazi regime during World War II. Translated very well from Danish. The Danes were nearly unique in their manner of simultaneously helping the Jews among them escape and resisting the efforts of the Nazis to control them. It did help, according to the author, that Denmark kept Germany supplied with butter and fish and other luxuries. Very interesting.

    25. Very interesting. Explains that the Danish king never wore a star of David armband as popularly believed because, despite the German occupation, the Danes never let things get to the point where anyone had to wear such an armband. Instead, when the Germans moved to deport the Danish Jews, many, many brave Danes did everything possible to help their compatriots hide and then escape to Sweden. Kudos, too, to the brave and generous Swedes, for welcoming the refugees with such open arms. Who knew?

    26. Great read covering a part of World War II that is not widely known. Extensive use of personal diaries captures the human face of the escapes. Final section attempts to explain why the Danish Jews weren't ostracized and deported like they were in so many other countries taken over by the Nazi war machine.

    27. This was a great book about a little-known part of World War II history. Using the writings of a specific Jewish family, the author vividly describes the escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark across the waters to neutral Sweden. Also, the stories of the brave Danes who helped the Jews escape and those of the Nazi officials in Denmark are also told.Overall, a great read!

    28. What an interesting book. It could have used a more attentive editor (perhaps in the original Danish as well), but it was a great read about how the mass exodus and rescue of almost all of Denmark's Jews in 1943 was pulled off. And the discussion of Danish politics and political culture was fascinating.

    29. A long slog, but imminently fascinating and accessible. The author follows a handful of Danes who escape to Sweden during a period of a week in October 1943. This is a story I knew nothing about, and only came to the book because it was referred to in something else I read. Worth reading, worth the work. In the end a story that will make you feel better about humanity.

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