Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz Chronology
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz was a member of the Nazi Party and was sent as a Trade Attaché to the German Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. When Duckwitz learned that the Nazi occupying government was planning to deport Danish Jews, he alerted the Danish government and Jewish community leaders. In addition, he made a clandestine trip to Stockholm to meet with the Prime Minster of Sweden to arrange for safe haven for the Jews. For these actions, he could have been killed. The Danish underground in turn implemented the rescue of more than 7,000 Danish Jews. As a result, 99% of Danish Jews were hidden and smuggled into neutral Sweden, where they survived the war. After the war, Duckwitz became the German Ambassador to Denmark. Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz was designated Righteous Among the Nations in 1971.
Georg Duckwitz, German citizen, moves to Denmark.
German invasion and occupation of Denmark.
Georg Duckwitz recruited as shipping attaché, attached to the German Embassy.
April 1940 – Summer 1943
During German occupation, Danish government serves as an independent government, with its own armed forces, police, and civil service. Jews remain free and protected.
Danish Nazis set fire to a Jewish synagogue. King Christian X publicly regrets the act.
Dr. Werner Best, Hitler’s plenipotentiary, posted to Copenhagen, replacing von Renthe-Fink.
Danish election elects government of Erik Scavenius, a vote of confidence. Danish Nazis were severely routed. Danish independence asserted. Escalation of active resistance against the Nazis, including sabotage and political strikes.
King Christian X of Denmark removed from his throne.
August 29, 1943
Lt. General Hermann von Hanneken imposes a state of emergency and asserts martial law. Danish government resigns. Parliament dissolves. King Christian X declares himself a prisoner of war. Danish Navy, with 29 ships, is scuttled.
September 8, 1943
Best telegrams Berlin recommending “Measures should now be taken towards a solution of the problems of the Jews and Freemasons.” Issues order to arrest and deport Jews “at one sweep.” Best asks for a detachment of security police.
September 11, 1943
Best tells Duckwitz about the deportations of the Jews. Duckwitz is furious and threatens to resign. Duckwitz tells Best that he would be ashamed to remain as a member of his staff if Best persecuted the Jews. Best tells Duckwitz, “we have to obey orders.”
September 19, 1943
German transport vessels to anchor in Copenhagen harbor. Ten days later, to ferry entire Jewish population to concentration camps.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, German shipping attaché in Copenhagen, wrote in his diary, “I know what I have to do.”
Duckwitz flies to Berlin to dissuade Hitler from deportation of Danish Jews. Hitler approves operation. Duckwitz secretly meets with Prime Minister of Sweden, Per Albin Hansson, to inform him of the impending deportation of Danish Jews. Urges Hansson to give Jews safe haven in Sweden.
Duckwitz notifies his contacts in the Danish Social Democratic Party that the deportation is imminent.
Social Democrats alert Jewish community.
Gustav von Dardel, the Swedish ambassador to Denmark, aids in the rescue of Jews.
September 28, 1943
The final order to carry out the deportation of Danish Jews reaches Copenhagen. Best reports deportation order to be carried out “during this week—probably between October 1st and 2nd.”
September 29, 1943
Eve of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. Jewish rabbis notify their congregations of impending deportation. Advise not to be in their homes for the next few days. Preparation for the rescue action begins.
October 1-14, 1943
One of the most spontaneous and epic rescues of the war. 7,300 Jews were smuggled by fishing boats into neutral Sweden. Almost the entire Danish population cooperated.
472 Jews are captured before they can make the crossing. Later transported to Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia.
King Christian X sends a mission to check on their welfare. Fifty Danes perish there.
Duckwitz remained at his post in Copenhagen, undetected and unpunished.
Duckwitz was welcomed as West German Ambassador to Denmark.