Chronology of Rescue in Denmark During the Holocaust
Georg Duckwitz, German citizen, moves to Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Jewish Society of 1930 is founded in Copenhagen. It encourages Jewish revival and supports immigrant needs.
January 30, 1933
Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by German President Paul von Hindenburg.
The Nazi party becomes the ruling party in Germany.
February 27-28, 1933
The German Reichstag [Parliament] is burned down under mysterious circumstances. As a result, a state of emergency is declared. Hitler receives emergency powers from German President Paul von Hindenburg. Nazi storm troopers arrest ten thousand opponents of the Nazi party. Many of these are executed or “disappear.”
March 5, 1933
Nazi party wins 288 seats in the Reichstag.
March 24, 1933
Passage of the Enabling Act by the Nazi-controlled Reichstag suspends and thereby destroys all civil liberties in Germany. It establishes a completely totalitarian system with only one leader and one political party, which controls all communication.
April 12, 1933
King Christian X participates in Centennial Celebration of the founding of synagogue in Copenhagen.
King Gustav V of Sweden and other prominent Swedes warn Hitler that continued persecution of Jews would erode sympathy for Germany.
Committee for the Support of Intellectual Refugees founded by physicist Dr. Nils Bohr, his brother Harald, and Aage Friis. The Committee of the 4th of May, 1933, is established. Kai Simonsen is its secretary. Both groups are to support German Jewish refugees entering Denmark after Hitler’s takeover of Germany.
More than 52,000 Jews leave Germany in the first year of the Nazi government. There are 37,000 German Jews traveling who remain abroad.
Approximately 4,500 Jewish refugees enter Denmark. Most are from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Of these, 3,500 exit for other countries. There are 29,000 stateless or foreigners and refugees residing in Denmark.
September 15, 1935
Anti-Jewish laws known as “Nuremberg Laws” are enacted in Germany. These include the Law Respecting Reich Citizenship and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Jews are no longer considered German citizens. Soon, hundreds of additional edicts are enacted.
International reaction to the Nuremberg Laws is almost universally negative.
New edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is published in Denmark. Danish clergy protest the publication of this and other anti-Semitic literature.
March 7, 1936
Germans march into the Rhineland, previously demilitarized by the Versailles Treaty. The United States, Great Britain and France denounce the invasion.
August 1-16, 1936
The International Olympic Games are held in Berlin. Persecution of Jews is temporarily suspended by Hitler and the Nazis.
October 25, 1936
Hitler and Mussolini form Rome-Berlin Axis. This is a formal alliance between fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
November 25, 1936
Germany and Japan sign Anti-Cominturn Pact against the Soviet Union. This pact attempts to thwart Soviet territorial aspirations in Europe.
January 1, 1938
Sweden passes a law severely limiting immigration.
Joachim von Ribbentrop becomes German foreign minister.
March 12, 1938
German troops cross into Austria.
March 13, 1938
Anschluss (annexation of Austria). Austria becomes a province of the German Greater Reich and is renamed Austmark. Vienna loses its status as a capital and becomes a provincial administrative seat. All antisemitic decrees imposed on German Jews are immediately applied in Austria. Nearly 200,000 more Jews come under Hitler’s control.
The German Nuremberg Laws, which forcibly segregate Jews in Germany and deprive them of citizenship and the means of livelihood, are officially enforced in Austria. More than 200,000 Austrian Jews would be persecuted under these laws, according to German records.
July 6-15, 1938
Representatives from 34 countries meet at Evian, France, to discuss refugee policies. All of the countries refuse to help or let in more Jewish refugees. Australia’s response to accepting Jewish refugees states: “As we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.” The lack of support for Jewish refugees signals to Hitler that the world is unconcerned with Jewish refugees.
The US State Department declares, “No country would be expected to make any changes in its immigration legislation.”
As an outcome of the Evian Conference, an Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees is established to help refugees. It is headed by Lord Winterton and George Rublee. It is, however, highly ineffectual and fails to help Jews who are leaving Germany to take their assets with them.
September 15 and September 22, 1938
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain meets with Hitler in Germany to discuss the Sudetenland crisis. Hitler demands Czechoslovakia return Sudeten territories to Germany. Hitler states that this will be his last territorial demand in Europe. Chamberlain has agreed to Hitler’s demands to annex the Sudetenland. Chamberlain signs Friendship Treaty with Germany. Chamberlain returns to England bearing an agreement he signed with Hitler and states that there would be “peace in our time.”
September 29-30, 1938
The Munich Conference is held. It is attended by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, French President Daladier, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini, and Hitler. Great Britain, France and Italy agree to allow the Nazis to annex the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia is not allowed to participate in the conference.
The General Assembly of the League of Nations merges the Nansen Office for Refugees with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
October 6, 1938
The Czech Sudetenland is annexed and occupied by the German Army. Soon, 200,000 Czechs are expelled or flee the territory. Czech President Eduard Benes resigns as a result of the annexation.
November 9-10, 1938
Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. Thousands of Jews are beaten, hundreds killed; 200 synagogues set fire and destroyed; 7,500 Jewish shops looted; 171 Jewish homes destroyed; 30,000 German, Austrian and Sudeten Jews sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen), 15,000 from Austria. 680 men and women commit suicide in Austria.
Public opinion against the Kristallnacht pogrom is voiced in Denmark.
Between 1933 and 1939, 14,000 anti-Jewish laws are passed in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.
78,000 Jews leave Germany.
100,000 Jews leave Austria by May 1939. 113,824 Jews remain.
Danish Criminal Law of 1939 is amended to include criminal penalties for rumor or slander against Danish people based on religion, origin or citizenship. This law is amended due to persecution of Jews in Germany.
The Nazi Foreign Office states that “the ultimate aim of Germany’s Jewish policy [is] the immigration of all Jews living on German territory.”
January 10, 1939
Hitler announces to the German Reichstag [Parliament] that a world war will result in “the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”
January 24, 1939
Reinhardt Heydrich is given authority by Göring to “solve the Jewish question by emigration and evacuation in the way that is most favorable under the conditions prevailing at present.”
January 30, 1939
Hitler states in his speech in the Reichstag: “It is a shameful spectacle to see how the whole world is oozing sympathy for the poor, tormented Jewish people, but remains hard-hearted and obdurate when in comes to helping them.”
March 15, 1939
German troops invade Czechoslovakia and occupy Prague. Hitler incorporates Bohemia and Moravia into the Third Reich as a “Protectorate.” Another 120,000 Jews come under Hitler’s control. A total of 350,000 Jews are trapped in the Nazi web.
March 22, 1939
Germany annexes Memel, Lithuania, and forces Lithuania to sign Treaty of Acceptance.
March 31, 1939
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the French President Edouard Daladier declare that Britain and France will go to war with Germany if Poland is attacked.
May 30, 1939
German-Danish non-aggression pact is signed.
April 3, 1939
German government declares Danzig, Poland, a free city. This is part of a strategic plan for the future invasion and war with Poland.
April 11, 1939
Hitler orders his generals to plan for the attack and invasion of Poland. It is code-named “Operation White.”
August 23, 1939
Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact). Germany and the USSR agree not to attack each other. According to this pact, in the event of war, Hitler gives Stalin Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and eastern Poland, almost half of the country.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland. World War II begins. This is the first major Blitzkrieg (lightening war) of World War II. It is devastatingly effective. 48 German divisions with 1,400 aircraft invade on three fronts. Poland’s soldiers are outnumbered three to one by Germany’s 1.5 million men. Poland collapses in three weeks. 2,212,000 Polish Jews come under Hitler’s control.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 Polish Jews in Germany are arrested and put into concentration camps. Few survive.
Aktion [operation] Tannenberg is started. Einsatzgruppen [special troops] are sent to murder Jews, Polish soldiers, political leaders and intellectuals in Poland. According to some records, nearly 500,000 Polish Jews and other civilians are killed.
The British and French Armies mobilize, but do nothing to intervene in the attack on the West. They lose an important opportunity to stop German aggression.
September 3, 1939
In response to the German invasion of Poland, France, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand officially declare war on Germany. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain forms a wartime cabinet with Winston Churchill as the First Lord of the Admiralty.
September 10, 1939
Germany occupies and controls most of Western Poland.
September 12, 1939
The Luftwaffe begins bombing Warsaw.
September 17, 1939
Soviet Army invades and occupies Poland’s eastern section. The army enters virtually unopposed. Hundreds of Jews trapped in the German section escape behind Soviet lines. Eventually, between 300,000-400,000 Jewish refugees flee. Though they are treated badly by the Soviet government, many survive the war.
September 21, 1939
Chiefs of Einsatzgruppen, in cooperation with German civil and military leaders, are ordered to establish Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Poland. The aim of the ghettos is to segregate Jews from Polish society. The plan is to murder Jews slowly by starvation and disease, to kill them by shooting them on the spot, and eventually to deport them.
September 27, 1939
Warsaw surrenders after three days of intense bombardment by the Luftwaffe.
The Reichssicherheitshauptamt [Reich Security Main Office; RSHA] is established. This office will be one of the main instruments for the deportation and murder of millions of Jews and others throughout Europe.
September 28, 1939
Warsaw surrenders. Germany and the Soviet Union partition Poland. German forces occupy Warsaw.
October 30, 1939
Himmler orders Jews to be removed from the rural areas of Western Poland. Hundreds of Jewish communities are dispersed and destroyed forever.
November 30, 1939
Soviet Union invades Finland. War lasts until March 13, 1940.
December 2, 1939
Initiation of poison gas vans to murder mental patients in Germany.
Six “euthanasia centers” are established throughout Germany. They murder Jews, handicapped, mentally ill and elderly persons. The use of gas chambers and poison gas is established in these centers.
First gassing of handicapped and mental patients in German asylums. More than 70,000 people are murdered before protests by church leaders bring about an end to the euthanasia program. However, this operation continues secretly until the end of the war.
February 12-13, 1940
First deportation of Jews from Germany.
March 12, 1940
The Russian-Finnish War ends. Finland and Russia sign peace treaty.
April 4, 1940
Danish intelligence learns of German plan to invade Denmark. It is not believed.
April 9, 1940
Germany invades and occupies Denmark. Norway is conquered the same day.
April 22, 1940
Georg Breitscheid, Secretary of the Danish Emigrant Aid Committee, is arrested by Germans. He is released on May 17, 1940, under pressure from Danish authorities.
Georg Duckwitz recruited as shipping attaché, attached to the German Embassy.
The Danish Army consists of only 14,000 men, 8,000 of whom just recently enlisted. The Danish Navy is comprised of 3,000 sailors and only 2 small ships. The Air Force has only a few airmen and 50 outdated warplanes.
Some Danish fisherman help Jews escape to Sweden. Some are arrested when they return to Denmark.
April 1940 – September 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. The Danish underground was small and relatively unsupported by the Danish population.
May 10, 1940
Germany invades the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. 136 German divisions participate in the invasion. Germans enforce anti-Jewish measures in each area. In the wake of the German invasions, more than 8 million persons are displaced all over Europe. In Belgium, there are between 85,000 and 90,000 Jews, among whom 30,000 are refugees. In Holland, there are 140,000 Jews. 110,000 are native Dutch Jews, and 30,000 are refugees from Germany and Austria. In Luxembourg, the Jewish population is 3,500, many of whom are German and Austrian refugees.
May 12, 1940
Germany invades France.
May 15, 1940
The Netherlands surrender to Germany. Thousands of German, Austrian and Czech Jews who sought refuge in Holland are now trapped.
May 20, 1940
Concentration camp established at Auschwitz, Poland. It will become the largest and deadliest death camp in the Nazi system. More than 1.2 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, will be systematically murdered there.
May 26-June 4, 1940
Following the encirclement of Allied forces in northeastern France, the British, French and Belgian forces are evacuated from Dunkirk, France. 338,226 soldiers are rescued by 861 ships.
May 28, 1940
Belgium surrenders to Germany. The Prime Minister and members of the Belgian cabinet flee to southern France. King Leopold III remains in country. 65,696 Jews come under Nazi rule. 34,801 Jews will eventually be imprisoned or deported. 28,902 Jews in Belgium will be murdered. 56% of the Belgian Jewish community will survive the war.
German foreign minister to Denmark Renthe is given a card index of all foreigners residing in Denmark.
June 9, 1940
Norway surrenders to Germany. Approximately 2,000 Jews are now subject to Nazi occupation.
June 10, 1940
Italy enters the war as a German ally, declares war on Great Britain and France, and invades France.
June 14, 1940
First deportation to Auschwitz death camp arrives.
June 14-15, 1940
Paris falls, the German army occupies Paris and the French government is transferred to Bordeaux. There are 100,000 Jews living in Paris. More than 1 million refugees pour into Bordeaux.
Soviets invade and occupy Lithuania.
June 22, 1940
France surrenders to Germany.
August 8, 1940
The Battle of Britain begins with an attack by the Luftwaffe in southern England.
September 27, 1940
Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis alliance is signed.
December 9, 1940
Operation Compass begins in North Africa. The British Army advances from Egypt to Libya.
December 23, 1940
German minister Paul E. Kanstein requests information regarding refugee organizations operating in Denmark. These include the Matteoti Fund, Committee for the Support of Intellectual Refugees, and the Committee of the 4th of May, 1933. Under pressure, the organizations are closed on April 1, 1941, and their records are confiscated.
February 5, 1941
Reinhardt Heydrich states in memorandum that he sees the “later total solution to the Jewish problem” is to “send them off to whatever country will be chosen later on.”
February 14, 1941
Heydrich tells German foreign ministry representative in France Martin Luther, “After the conclusion of the peace, they [Jews] will be the first transported to leave fortress Europe in the total evacuation of the continent we plan.” Luther then tells his diplomatic representatives that forced Jewish emigration from German territories must take priority.
March 1, 1941
Himmler orders the construction of a second death camp in Auschwitz called Birkenau (Auschwitz II).
March 26, 1941
The German general staff gives the approval for the activities of the Einsatzgruppen (murder squads) in the Soviet Union. The Wehrmacht will participate directly in the murder of civilians.
April 6, 1941
German forces invade Greece and Yugoslavia.
April 27, 1941
Greece surrenders to the German and Italian armies. After a protracted battle for conquering Greece, Germany intervenes on behalf of the Italian army. This delays Hitler’s planned attack on the Soviet Union.
Finland joins Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union.
June 6, 1941
Hitler issues the Commissar Order. It authorizes the German army to murder any and all Soviet authorities in the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union.
June 22, 1941
Breaking the non-aggression pact of 1939, Hitler orders the German army to invade the Soviet Union. The plan is called “Operation Barbarossa.” Germany is now fighting a two-front war. The Wehrmacht, with 150 divisions and more than three million men, invade and occupy much of the western Soviet Union.
Following the German army, Nazi Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads) begin mass murder of Jews, civilian and Communist leaders. More than one and a half million people are murdered by the Einsatzgruppen.
Danish police begin arresting Communist leaders and party members. 350 people are arrested and imprisoned.
July 9, 1941
Unable to win the air war over England, Hitler calls off Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Great Britain.
July 31, 1941
Hermann Göring appoints Reinhardt Heydrich to implement the “final solution of the Jewish question.”
August 7, 1941
Renthe-Fink submits list of eight Jewish refugees who wished to emigrate to the U.S. and Chile. The reply from Eichmann was sent on August 23, 1941. It stated: “In reply to your letter of August 23, 1941, we beg to inform you that in our opinion and in view of the final solution of the Jewish problem in Europe now being planned the emigration of Jews from our occupied areas should be prevented.”
August 28, 1941
A Danish law is passed outlawing the Communist Party. This is an infringement of the Danish Constitution.
September 1, 1941
Hitler ends the T-4 euthanasia program in Germany under pressure from church and civic leaders. Between 70,000 and 93,000 people are killed in this program.
Order forcing Danish Jews to wear a yellow star is announced. German minister Renthe-Fink and German General Hanneken decide not to implement the order.
September 17, 1941
The beginning of the general deportation of German Jews to the death camps in Poland.
October 1, 1941
All legal emigration out of Germany and the occupied territories is stopped by Gestapo order.
The early onset of the Russian winter greatly slows the German army’s advance in the Soviet Union.
November 5, 1941
Werner Best, the German Plenipotentiary (Ambassador), arrives in Copenhagen.
November 25, 1941
Denmark signs the German Anti-Cominturn Act.
While in Berlin, Danish Prime Minister Scavenius meets with Hermann Goering. In a conversation he sells Goering that there was no Jewish question in Denmark.
Germany Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories declares, “As a matter of principle, no consideration should be given to economic interest…” This statement declares that killing Jews takes precedence over all other considerations, including use of Jewish labor for the war effort.
Danish Nazis set fire to a Jewish synagogue. King Christian X publicly regrets the act.
Minister Renthe-Fink first learns of the mass murder of Jews in Eastern Europe.
December 1-5, 1941
The German army reaches the outer suburbs of Moscow.
December 5, 1941
The Soviets launch a major counteroffensive against the German army’s attack on Moscow.
December 7, 1941
Japanese Imperial Navy attacks US forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Night and Fog Decree: Hitler orders the suppression of anti-Nazi resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe. This order is carried out by the German army in Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands are murdered under this order.
December 8, 1941
The United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Japan.
Gassing of Jews begins at Chelmno extermination camp in Poland. Jews are herded into trucks and vans, where they are asphyxiated. 320,000 Jews are eventually murdered in Chelmno.
By the end of December 1941, the Nazis have murdered more than one million Jews.
December 10, 1941
The United States declares war on Germany and Italy. The vast majority of the war effort will be directed at winning the war against Germany.
December 14, 1941
Churchill and Roosevelt meet in Washington, DC.
December 20, 1941
Danish Nazis attempt unsuccessfully to burn down the Copenhagen synagogue.
A major conference planning the murder of millions of Jews is held on January 20, 1942, in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Heads of major German departments gather to plan the largest organized murder in history.
January 1, 1942
The United Nations is founded in Washington, DC. 26 nations sign an agreement to defeat Hitler and his allies.
Eight European governments in exile meet in London and refuse to condemn the Nazi murder of Jews in Europe. The Allies refuse to acknowledge that Jews were being targeted for murder as Jews and not just as Europeans.
January 12, 1942
Nine European nations and China sign a resolution to hold Nazi war criminals responsible for war crimes, “whether they have ordered them, perpetuated them or in any way participated in them.”
January 13, 1942
The governments in exile of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia condemn the murder of their citizens by the Germans. Jews are not specifically mentioned.
February 15, 1942
First transport of Jews murdered at Auschwitz using prussic acid (Zyklon B) poison gas.
March 1, 1942
Construction of the Sobibor death camp in Poland begins. It begins its murderous activities in May 1942.
May 3, 1942
Danish Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning dies.
May 26, 1942
The Soviet Union and Great Britain sign a mutual assistance treaty.
July 1, 1942
The Polish government in exile issues a report to the Allied nations detailing the murder of 700,000 Jews since the German invasion and occupation in September 1939. This report reveals the use of mobile gas vans at Chelmno. Ninety Jews are murdered at a time in each of these vans by carbon monoxide. More than a thousand people are murdered a day.
July 19, 1942
Himmler orders the Jews in the General Government of Poland to be killed by the end of the year.
July 22, 1942
Construction begins on the Treblinka death camp near Warsaw. It begins its murderous operation in August 1942. More than 870,000 Jews are murdered there. Most are from the Warsaw ghetto.
July 22-September 12, 1942
265,000 Jews from Warsaw are murdered in Treblinka.
August 8, 1942
Gerhardt Riegner cables Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in New York and Sydney Silverman in London regarding Nazi implementation of a plan to murder European Jewry. Riegner hopes that this report will initiate a worldwide mass rescue effort to save Jews. Most of Europe’s Jews are still alive. The US State Department delays delivery of the cable to Wise.
September 30, 1942
In a speech at the Sports Palace in Berlin, Hitler acknowledges plans to murder Jews. Hitler says, “if Jewry should plot another world war in order to exterminate the Aryan peoples of Europe, it should not be the Aryan peoples which would be exterminated, but Jewry…”
Swedish government provides refuge for Jews who escape across the Norwegian-Swedish border. Swedish diplomats in Oslo try to protect Jews with any Swedish connections.
President Roosevelt announces that the US will propose the establishment of a war crimes commission to collect information on the acts of war criminals and to establish criteria for punishment of the perpetrators after the war.
In the first week of November 1942, more than 170,000 Jews are murdered in Belzec, Treblinka and the Auschwitz death camps.
The Allied armies turn the tide of the war in North Africa at the battle of El Alemein in Egypt. German General Rommel’s army retreats.
November 4, 1942
German General Rommel’s Italian and German forces retreat in North Africa.
November 5, 1942
Dr. Werner Best, Hitler’s plenipotentiary, posted to Copenhagen, replacing Cecil von Renthe-Fink.
November 8, 1942
The Allied armies land in Algeria and Morocco, in North Africa. The invasion is called Operation Torch. The landing guarantees the safety of 117,000 Algerian Jews.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews are murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka, near Warsaw. 250,000 Jews are murdered in Sobibor’s gas chambers. On November 3, 1943, 42,000 Jews are rounded up and shot in the Lublin district of Poland. The code name for this operation is Erntefest, which means harvest festival. In 1943, it is estimated that 500,000 Jews are murdered in Nazi-occupied Europe.
January 14-24, 1943
Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt confer in Casablanca, Morocco, to discuss the future of the Allied war effort against Germany.
January 26, 1943
Members of the Swedish parliament propose legislation to curb anti-Semitism.
February 2, 1943
The German Sixth Army surrenders to the Soviet Army at Stalingrad, Russia. This event is considered the major turning point in World War II. Total German casualties in the Sixth Army are 160,000 dead and 107,000 captured.
Germans set up an SS organization comprised of Danish Nazis, called “The Schalburg Corps.”
February 4, 1943
Field Marshall Montgomery’s British forces are victorious over Rommel’s Africa Corps at El Alemein.
Dr. Martin Luther of the German Foreign Ministry is dismissed and is sent to a concentration Camp.
March 23, 1943
Danish election votes in government of Prime Minister Erik Scavenius. Danish Nazis were severely routed. Danish independence asserted. There is an escalation of active resistance against the Nazis, including sabotage and political strikes.
April 19-30, 1943
Bermuda Conference: British and American representatives meet in Bermuda to discuss rescue options, but fail to come up with any significant possibilities.
July 5, 1943
The Wehrmacht conducts its last major offensive in the German occupied territory of the Soviet Union. Soviet offensives around Kursk fatally weaken the Wehrmacht at the front.
July 9-10, 1943
US and British Allied forces invade Sicily. This is the beginning of the liberation of mainland Europe.
July 25, 1943
Benito Mussolini is overthrown; Marshal Pietro Badoglio sets up a new government in Italy.
August 27, 1943
Best returns to Copenhagen, meets with General Hanneken and diplomatic staff regarding State of Emergency, and the arrest and internment of members of the Danish Armed Forces.
August 29, 1943
A major crisis erupts between the German occupation authorities and the Danish government. Lt. General Hermann von Hanneken imposes a state of emergency and asserts martial law. German Army occupies Copenhagen. Danish government resigns. Parliament dissolves. King Christian X declares himself a prisoner of war. Danish Army is disarmed and senior officers are interned. Danish Navy, with 29 ships, is sabotaged.
August 31, 1943
Jewish community leaders meet with Danish Foreign Ministry Director Nils Svenningsen after German Army confiscates Jewish community records with names and addresses of Jews. Svenningsen then meets with Best, who denies knowledge of this.
Dr. Best meets with Hitler, who orders Best to declare a state of emergency.
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 13, 1943
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz flies to Berlin to meet with foreign ministry official and to intercept Best’s telegram of September 8 and prevent it from reaching Hitler. His objective is to dissuade Hitler and Ribbentrop from deportation of Danish Jews. It is too late. Hitler approves operation.
September 14, 1943
General Hanneken issues proclamation proposing to cancel the State of Emergency.
September 15 -20, 1943
SS Police battalions of the Security Service (SD) arrive in Copenhagen with orders to arrest and deport Jews of Denmark.
September 16, 1943
General Hanneken proposes canceling State of Emergency “toward the end of next week.”
September 17, 1943
Hitler decides to deport Danish Jews. German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop tasks Best to develop and submit plans for this action.
Jewish card index is seized in Jewish community offices. Dr. Best later confirms the Jewish community records were in fact seized. Best calls this action a “very small action,” nothing to do with the “Jewish Question.”
Best cables Berlin and requests that the State of Emergency in Denmark be enforced until the 26th, the Danish King’s birthday.
September 18, 1943
Best cables Berlin. He states that deportation can be accomplished in 9 or 10 days. He further states: “Politically speaking, deportation of the Jews will undoubtedly cause a sharp deterioration of the situation in Denmark. There will be no further possibility of forming a legal government. Inside the country there may be unrest and even perhaps a General Strike.”
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.”
September 20, 1943
Best informs General Hanneken of Hitler’s order (of September 17) to deport Danish Jews. Hanneken opposes the deportation. In a telegram to the German military headquarters, he cables the following: “The benefits of deportation strike me as doubtful. No cooperation can be expected afterward from the civil administration or from the Danish police. The supply of food will be adversely affected. The ‘willingness to supply’ of the armaments industry will be undermined. Disturbances requiring use of military force must be expected.”
German military command notifies Best that Hitler agreed in principle and conditionally to lift the State of Emergency in Denmark.
September 22, 1943
Duckwitz flies to Sweden and secretly meets with Prime Minister of Sweden, Per Albin Hansson, to inform him of the impending deportation of Danish Jews. He urges Hansson to give Jews safe haven in Sweden.
Best is cabled by the office of German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop that the State of Emergency is to continue as ordered.
German General Jodl cables General Hanneken: “…(2) The deportation of the Jews will be carried out by theReichsführer S.S. who has transferred two police battalions to Denmark for this purpose; (3) The military state of emergency will continue at least until the completion of the operations referred to in paragraphs (1) and (2). A special order will be issued with regard to its termination. (4) The Plenipotentiary of the Reich has received a notice in similar vein from the Foreign Ministry.”
Hanneken phones General Staff to have order reversed on the grounds that it would hurt the honor of the German Army.
General Keitel cables Hanneken on the following day that the deportation orders are to be carried out as planned.
September 23, 1943
General Hanneken requests postponement of deportation of Danish Jews until after the State of Emergency. His request is denied by Commanding General Jodl. Hanneken agrees to only minimal cooperation by German Armed Forces in Denmark.
Ribbentrop tries to prevent the planned deportation action of October 1 and 2 on the grounds of adverse effect it would have on the political and civil stability of the Danish populace. Hitler orders that deportation to go ahead as planned, and should be accomplished during the State of Emergency.
September 25, 1943
Jewish community leaders C. B. Henriques and Karl Lachmann meet with Svenningsen. They bring up concerns regarding a German action against Jews. Svenningsen tells them that Germans have told him no action is contemplated. He assures them that the Danish government would not cooperate in any action against Jews.
SS officer Dr. Rudolf Mildner, sent to Denmark to supervise the arrest and deportation of Jews, flies to Berlin to try to cancel the deportation order. He meets with Gestapo chief Müller, who refers the request to SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Himmler replies: “The action against the Jews is to be carried out at once.”
Ribbentrop sends order to German Foreign Ministry that the deportations will proceed “in accordance with the Führer’s orders.”
September 26, 1943
SS officer Dr. Rudolph Mildner, who was appointed to command the action, arrives in Copenhagen.
September 28, 1943
Foreign Ministry official Eberhard von Thadden passes deportation order to Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller.
The final order to carry out the deportation of Danish Jews reaches Best at the German diplomatic headquarters in Copenhagen. Best reports deportation order to be carried out “during this week—probably between October 1st and 2nd.”
Best and Hanneken inform Danish government officials that the State of Emergency will remain in force.
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.
Danish church leader Bishop Fuglsang-Damgaard meets with Jewish leaders to tell them that rumors about a German action against Jews is unfounded. They believe him.
September 29, 1943
Fearing consequences of deportations of Danish Jews, Best cables to Berlin: “The anger of the population will express itself in a way that will obligate us to use stronger German forces. I estimate that it will be necessary to treble the police force put at my disposal.”
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.
September 30, 1943
King Christian X and the chairman of the central economic organization protest their opposition to Best regarding rumors of the upcoming deportation of Jews.
October 1, 1943
Danes sign an agreement with Germany to continue to supply agricultural products in the following year.
Swedish minister in Berlin, A. Richert, announces on behalf of Swedish government its willingness to accept Danish Jews.
Danish officials, director-general of the Foreign Ministry Nils Svenningsen and Eivind Larsen, try to intercede with Werner Best to stop deportations. He informs them he cannot stop the actions.
King Christian X’s protest against deportation is presented to Best.
Roundup of Danish Jews begins. Best announces that 202 persons have been arrested in Copenhagen.
Helmuth von Molke, a German resistance activist of the German War Ministry, travels to Copenhagen to warn Jews of the deportations.
October 1-14, 1943
German police begin roundup of Danish Jews.
One of the most spontaneous and epic rescues of the war is carried out. 7,300 Jews are smuggled by fishing boats into neutral Sweden. Hundreds of Danes participate in the rescue of their Jewish countrymen.
October 2, 1943
Swedish government announces to the German government, in newspaper and on the radio, of its willingness to receive all Danish Jews.
October 3, 1943
Danish Bishop H. Fuglsang issues a pastoral letter condemning the attempted deportations. It is read in most churches. It states, “We will struggle for the right of our Jewish brothers and sisters to preserve the same liberty that we prize more highly than life itself.”
German General Staff issues orders to lift State of Emergency in Denmark. It also demobilizes the Danish Armed Forces.
October 4, 1943
A. Richert, the Swedish minister in Berlin, asks the German Foreign Ministry to grant exit visas for Jewish children. The request is denied.
October 6, 1943
Best announces lifting of State of Emergency and demobilization of Danish Armed Forces. In addition, Best declares, “Upon the termination of the military emergency, all German interests in Denmark without exception will again be concentrated in my hands.”
Danish soldiers are demobilized. The Danish Army becomes active in the underground resistance.
October 7(?), 1943
Best sends telegram No. 1208 defending his failure to deport the Jews of Denmark. Best states, in part, “Since the practical object of the action against the Jews in Denmark was to cleanse the country of Jews and not to engage in headhunting to the greatest possible degree, it may be said that the operation achieved its goal. Denmark is purged of Jews [Judenrein], since no Jew affected by the regulations can remain or work here openly.”
472 Jews are captured before they can make the crossing. Later transported to Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia.
November 1, 1943
Moscow Declaration is signed by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, notifying German leaders that they will be held responsible for crimes against humanity for the murder of Jews and others, and will be subject to extradition to the countries where the crimes were committed. The declaration does not mention Jews.
November 28-December 1, 1943
Teheran Conference is held with Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
SD head in Denmark, Dr. Rudolf Mildner, is transferred out of Denmark.
December 6, 1943
Police Chief SD officer, Gunther Panke, is posted in Denmark.
King Christian X sends a mission to Theresienstadt to check on the welfare of internees. Fifty Danish Jews perish there.
In 1944, more than 600,000 European Jews will be murdered.
January 14, 1944
Soviet Army launches a major offensive against the German siege of Leningrad.
January 22, 1944
British and US Allied forces land at Anzio, Italy, southeast of Rome. The invasion beachhead is sealed off by German forces.
January 27, 1944
The siege of Leningrad is broken, after more than 900 days and one million civilian deaths.
March 21, 1944
RAF bombs and destroys Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen.
April 7, 1944
Two Jewish prisoners, Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba, escape Auschwitz and reach Slovakia with detailed information about the mass murder of Jews in the camp. Their report, called the Auschwitz Protocols, (supplemented by information brought by two more escapees) reaches the free world in June.
April 11-18, 1944
The Allied forces in Italy break through the major German defensive line at Monte Cassino. This enables Allied troops to break out of the Anzio beachhead.
June 4, 1944
The 5th US Army, commanded by General Mark Clark, liberates Rome.
June 6, 1944
D-Day: Operation Overlord is launched. Allied invasion at Normandy, in northwestern France, opens second front. Seven Allied divisions attack in the largest amphibious operation in history. The invasion involves more than 4,000 ships and 1,000 transport planes.
July 20, 1944
Attempted assassination of Hitler by opposition military officers at his headquarters in Rastenberg fails. In reprisal, thousands of Germans are murdered.
June 24, 1944
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen are bombed, causing strike on June 26.
June 26, 1944
General stroke in Copenhagen. It is one week.
August 14, 1944
Operation Anvil. Allied forces land on the south coast of France. They quickly advance 20 miles on the first day.
August 17, 1944
US forces break out of the German defenses in western Normandy.
August 24-25, 1944
Paris is liberated by Allied forces. The French forces, led by de Gaulle, lead the victory procession.
September 19, 1944
Germany disbands Danish political parties and ends Danish general strike.
Germans arrest members of the Danish police force. Two thousand are sent to German concentration camps.
December 16, 1944
Battle of the Bulge in Belgium begins.
January 17, 1945
Auschwitz-Birkenau is closed and evacuated, 66,000 prisoners are taken away on a series of death marches.
The Soviet Army enters and liberates Warsaw, Poland. Warsaw is completely destroyed.
April 12, 1945
US President Franklin Roosevelt dies. Harry Truman becomes the new President.
April 15, 1945
Red Cross transfers 413 Danish Jews from Czechoslovakia to Sweden.
April 16, 1945
The Soviet Army launches its last assault on Berlin.
April 19, 1945
Danish Red Cross volunteers help with the release of surviving inmates at the Neuengamme concentration camp, who are brought safely to Denmark.
Bernadotte’s negotiations with Himmler are successful. He secures the release of over 400 Danish Jews imprisoned in Theresienstadt. Later, he arranges for the release of thousands of women from the Ravensbrück and Bergen Belsen concentration camps. He arranges for busses, converted to ambulances, known as the “white busses,” to take them from the camps. The refugees are transported safely to Sweden.
April 25, 1945
The United Nations meeting in San Francisco, California, drafts charter of the United Nations.
April 29, 1945
The German Army unconditionally surrenders to the Allies in Italy.
In the day before he commits suicide, Hitler dictates his last will and testament. In it, he exhorts “the government and the people to uphold the race laws to limit and to resist mercilessly the poisoners of all nations, international Jewry.”
April 30, 1945
Hitler commits suicide in his bunker in Berlin.
Werner Best is imprisoned in Denmark pending trial for war crimes.
May 2, 1945
Berlin falls to the Soviet Army. The German troops defending Berlin surrender.
May 4, 1945
The German occupying forces in the Netherlands and Denmark surrender.
The Red Cross takes over concentration camp at Theresienstadt.
May 5 – November 8, 1945
Vilhelm Buhl serves as Prime Minister of Denmark.
May 8, 1945
Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day): German General Alfred Jodl surrenders at Eisenhower’s headquarters, the end of the Third Reich.
The German army in northeast Germany surrenders to Field Marshal Montgomery.
55 million people are dead. Nearly half are civilians.
More than six million Jews and five million others have been murdered. Two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe is murdered. 90% of the Jewish Polish population has been murdered. However, in more than half of the countries in Europe, 50% or more of the population of Jews survives. These include the countries of Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Germany and Austria.
Jewish returnees to Denmark have their property, including houses, businesses and money, returned to them. All Jews are granted the sum of $4,505 Kroner to help rebuild their lives.
August 6, 1945
Americans detonate atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. It destroys two-thirds of the city.
August 9, 1945
Americans detonate atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. It destroys half of the city.
August 14, 1945
Japanese Emperor Hirohito accepts Allied surrender terms. He tells his people to accept the terms and not to resist the occupation.
August 15, 1945
V-J Day: Victory over Japan proclaimed.
Duckwitz remained at his post in Copenhagen, undetected and unpunished.
Duckwitz was welcomed as West German Ambassador to Denmark.
Denmark becomes member of the United Nations.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz represents West German Chamber of Commerce in Denmark.
April 27, 1946 – November 12, 1948
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East opens war crimes trials against members of the Japanese Imperial government and the armed forces. The IMT indicts former war Prime Minister Tojo and 27 others.
October 1, 1946
Nuremberg trial verdicts are pronounced. Guilty: Göring, Borman (in absentia), Ribbentrop, Kaltenbrunner, Keitel, Rosenberg, Frank, Frick, Streicher, Jodl, Sauckel – all to hang; Funk, Räder, Hess – life sentences; Speer, Donitz, Schirach – 20 years; Von Neurath – 15 years. Acquitted: Fritzche, Schacht, von Poppen.
October 16, 1946
Nuremberg war criminals are hanged.
Twelve separate trials are conducted against Nazi war criminals. 185 war criminals are prosecuted.
November 13, 1947-October 27, 1950
Hans Hedtoft serves first term as Prime Minister of Denmark.
Count Folke Bernadotte is appointed United Nations High Commissioner to Israel by the UN Security Council.
September 17, 1948
Count Folke Bernadotte is assassinated in Jerusalem by members of the Stern Group, a Zionist organization that disagrees with his peace proposals.
September 20, 1948
After being convicted in a Danish court for his actions against Jews during the Nazi occupation, Werner Best is sentenced to death.
May 9, 1949
Werner Best appeals his conviction with a Danish court-appointed lawyer. His conviction is eventually reversed and he is sentenced to five years in prison.
Danish Supreme Court issues a final verdict against Werner Best. He is sentenced to twelve years in prison.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz appointed head of economic section of the West German Embassy in Copenhagen.
August 29, 1951
Best receives early release from Danish prison. He is deported to Germany.
Establishment of a Holocaust Museum in Israel. It is called Yad Vashem [Hebrew for place and name], the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority.
The state of Israel passes a law to honor those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust; a commission was established to recognize Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who saved Jews during the war.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is appointed Consul First Class at the West German Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. He is awarded the Cross of the Commander of the Dannebrog Order by the Danish King Frederik IX for his actions in saving Danish Jews.
September 1953-January 29, 1955
Hans Hedtoft serves second term as Prime Minister of Denmark. He dies in office on January 29, 1955.
February 28, 1955
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is appointed Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Denmark. He serves in this post until 1958.
January 29, 1955-January 1960
Hans C. Hansen succeeds Hans Hedtoft as Prime Minister of Denmark. He serves until his death in January 1960.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is appointed director of the East European Division of the West German Foreign Ministry.
Former SS officer responsible for the deportation of Jews to death camps, Adolf Eichmann, is captured by Israeli agents in Buenos Aires, Argentine.
Adolf Eichmann trial opens in Jerusalem, Israel.
December 15, 1961
Adolf Eichmann is convicted by an Israeli court and sentenced to death.
Israel’s Holocaust museum inaugurates the Avenue and Forest of the Righteous. Carob trees are planted in honor of individuals who saved Jews during the Shoah.
May 31, 1962
Eichmann is hanged and his ashes are scattered in the Mediterranean.
Israel honors first of the Righteous Among the Nations. Every person honored for saving Jews receives a tree planted in his or her name and is awarded a certificate and medal. German businessman Oskar Schindler was the third person so honored.
65,000 Nazi war criminals have been tried, convicted and sentenced.
May 31, 1966
Anna Christensen, who rescued 40 Jewish children in Denmark, is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
June 5-10, 1967
Responding to continuing threats along its border, Israel fights Six Day War against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Israel occupies the West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is appointed by German Chancellor Willy Brandt to be Staatssekretär (State Secretary), the highest civilian post in the German Foreign Ministry. He is given this posting for life.
July 24, 1968
Gerda Valentiner, a member of the Danish resistance who saved Jews in October 1943, is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
July 29, 1968
Henry* and Grethe Thomsen, who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews in Denmark in October 1943, are each awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz honored by Jewish community in Berlin.
March 29, 1971
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz is awarded Righteous Among the Nations medal. In April, Duckwitz travels to Israel where he is honored. A tree is planted in his honor at Yad Vashem.
February 16, 1973
Ambassador Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz passes away in his hometown of Bremen, Germany, at the age of 68.
Israel’s Holocaust museum holds a major conference entitled Rescue Attempts During the Holocaust. The conference papers are published in 1977.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz honored by Jewish community in Berlin.
July 13, 1982
Helga Holbek, a Danish woman who saved Jewish children in the South of France, is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
October 2, 1984
Dagmar Lustrup, who helped save 20 Jewish teenagers in Denmark in December 1940, is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Claude Lanzmans’ 9-hour documentary Shoah is broadcast worldwide.
May 8, 1986
Pastor Arnold Gunners and Karen Gunners, who saved Yehiel Ben Yitshar and Roza (Varda) Fuchs, two Jewish refugees, are each awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Helga and Esben Hansen, who worked with the Gunnars to save Yehiel Ben Yitshak and Roza (Varda) Fuch in October 1943, are awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Sister Helga Hansen is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Werner Best publishes his memoirs, Dänemark in Hitler Hand [Denmark in Hitler’s Hand].
Samuel and Pearl Oliner publish The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, their landmark study of rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
June 23, 1989
Werner Best dies.
July 5, 1989
Werner Best, who has just died, is indicted in a German court for murdering 8,723 Jews and Poles in Poland in the fall of 1939, when he was head of the German Security Police.
The Soviet Union collapses.
East and West Germany are reunited.
March 28, 1990
Harald Petersen, a Danish farmer who saved a Jewish family in October 1943, is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
December 26, 1994
Ester Handberg, who rescued members of the Strassman family in Denmark in October 1943, is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
International Committee for the Red Cross in Geneva apologizes for its passivity and inaction in helping Jews during World War II.
November 15, 1995
Svend and Inga Norrild, underground activists who rescued Danish Jews in October 1943, are each awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Israeli government pays tribute to Count Folke Bernadotte for rescuing Danish Jews in the spring of 1945. He is not yet honored as Righteous Among the Nations for these actions.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, with tour of diplomats’ families. Israel issues commemorative stamp in honor of Righteous Diplomats.
Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit opens at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Opening program is held in the hall of the General Assembly.
Documentary film on diplomatic rescue, Diplomats for the Damned, premieres at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Theater. Film is distributed along with student guide to schools and airs on the History Channel worldwide.
Sigurd Larsen is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Robert and Gertrud Petersen are each awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Fredrik and Ellen Fogh are each awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Knud Dyby is awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.
Knud and Karen Christensen are each awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel.