Danish Government Officials and Diplomats Who Aided Jews
“The representatives of the Jewish in Copenhagen assembled…send their Majesties their cordial greetings on the liberation of Denmark, together with the expression of our profound thanks for the unforgettable efforts of the Majesties on behalf of the Jews in Denmark.”
- Telegram to King Christian X of Denmark
Note: +arrested; †tortured; *killed; ●Righteous Among the Nations (honored by the State of Israel)
King Christian X of Denmark*
King Christian X of Denmark refused to cooperate in the persecution or deportation of Danish Jews. After the constitutional crisis of 1943, the King ordered the dissolution of the Danish Parliament. He asked the Danish ministers and officials to stay at their posts.
Throughout the war, the King stood as a symbol of Danish resistance. The entire country of Denmark was awarded the status as a Righteous Nation for its activities in saving the lives of its Jewish population. This is the only case where an entire nation is honored in this way. A Swedish professor observed: “ The king is a national symbol on which feelings and thoughts are concentrated… It is clear to all that he watches over Denmark’s dignity, that he shows where to draw the line, that his attitude compels respect even among the foreigners in his land. More than once he has been known to indicate a limit beyond which none shall pass.”
At the end of the war the Jewish community sent a telegram to King Christian X:
“The representatives of the Jewish community in Copenhagen… send to their Majesties their cordial greeting on the liberation of Denmark, together with our expression of our profound thanks for unforgettable efforts of their Majesties on behalf of the Jews of Denmark.” He replied, “We give you our heartfelt thanks. Au revoir.” (Yahil, 1969, pp. XIII 13, 56, 61-64, 125-126, 209-211, 365, 370)
Vilem Buhl, Prime Minister (Premier), Denmark, May 5 1942- November 8, 1945, Council of Nine, Finance Minister, Leader Social Democrats
Vilem Buhl became Prime Minister of Denmark after Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning died in office in May 1942. Buhl was actively against the persecution of Jews in Denmark. He warned German officials that the persecution of Jews was a “demand that would be incompatible with the formation of a new (Danish) government.” Buhl also warned Jews of the impending deportation action of October 1943. (Børge Outze, ed., Denmark During the German Occupation, Copenhagen Scandinavian Publishing Co., 1946; Yahil, 1969, pp. 64, 75, 106, 108, 125, 227, 239, 369)
Hans Hedtoft (1903-1955), Chairman, Social Democratic Party, Prime Minister, Denmark, November 13, 1947 – October 27, 1950, September 1953 – January 29, 1955.
Hedtoft was warned of the deportation of the Jews by German diplomat Georg F. Duckwitz. Hedtoft Remembered: “He came to see me while I was in a meeting in the worker’s old meeting place at 22, Romersgade. ‘Now the disaster is about to occur,’ he said. ‘The whole thing is planned in full detail. Ships are going to anchor in the harbor of Copenhagen. Your poor Jewish fellow countrymen who will be found by the Gestapo will be forcibly transported to the ships and deported to an unknown fate.’ His face was white with indignation and shame. I frankly admit that – although during those years I was accustomed to get many surprising messages from this man – I became speechless with rage and anxiety. This was too diabolic. I just managed to say, “Thank you for the news,” and Duckwitz disappeared. He personally did everything that was possible to save as many human lives as he could.”
Hedtoft then warned the leaders of the Jewish community of the impending deportations by Eichmann’s SS police battalions. He went to the president of the Jewish community Carl Bernard Henriques, and told him: “A great disaster is about to happen. The feared action against the Jews will come about in the following way: In the night between October 1 and 2, the Gestapo is going to seize all Jews in their residences, and then transport them to waiting ships in the harbor. You must immediately notify all Jews who live in the city. Obviously, we are ready to help you with everything you need.” (Bertelsen, Aage, October 1943, 1954; Flender, 1980, pp. 50-51, 76; Goldberger, 1987, pp. 8, 13, 14, 16, 29, 32, 46, 82; Hedtoft, Hans 1945. “Conscience Must Never Be Neutral.”; Outze, Børge, Ed., Denmark During the German Occupation, Copenhagen Scandinavian Publishing Co., 1946; Werner 39-40, 124, 130; Yahil, 1969, pp. 18, 148, 214, 239, 370-373)
H. C. Hansen, Danish Politician, Social Democratic Party
After Septermber 28 warned Jews of the upcoming deportation planned by Eichmanns SS police battalions. (Bertelsen, 1954; Flender, 1980, pp. 50; Goldberger, 1987, pp. 13, 35, 40, 147; Outze, 1946; Werner, 2002, pp. 40, 124, 130, 155, 158; Yahil, 1969, p. 239)
Herman Dedichen, Danish Politician, Social Democratic Party
After September 28, warned Jews. (Bertelsen, 1954; Goldberger, 1987, p. 13; Outze, 1946; Werner, 2002, p. 40)
Dr. Johannes Holm, Medical Officer Danish Legation in Berlin, Germany
Dr. Johannes Holm successfully negotiated with the German RSHA for the release and repatriation of Danish Jews imprisoned in the Thereiesenstadt concentration camp in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He worked closely with Dr. Rennau, the liason official with Fold Bernadote’s Office in Friedrichsruth. (see Dr. Rennau_ He was stationed in Berlin February to May 1945. (Koch, p. 81-82; Yahil, 1969, pp. 316, 500 FN102)
Erik Scavenius, Danish Foreign Minister, Summer 1940-1943, Prime Minister (Premier) 1943-194?
Eric Scavenius was the Danish Foreign Minister for the summer of 1940 through -. Was firmly opposed to the German pressure to institute anti-Semitic measures in Denmark. In a meeting with Hermann Goering in November 1941 Scavenius wrote: “But Denmark (Goering) said could not circumvent the Jewish question. To this I replied as always there was no Jewish question in Denmark.” In a meeting with German Minister Renthe-Fink on January 9, 1941 Scavenius warned that implementation of anti-Semitic measures would undermine German-Danish relations. Renthe-Fink convinced his superiors in Berlin of the undesirability of carrying out the final solution in Denmark’
On August 24, 1942 in a meeting with Renthe-Fink, Scavenius stated that the Danish government would not institute measures against its Jewish population, “Since the Danes would regard this as a denial of their ideals.”
On November 7, 1942 announced to the new German minister in Denmark, Dr. Werner Best, that he was opposed to any legislation against Jews.
Scavenius was elected Prime Minister (Premier) in March 1943. He served as Prime Minister until the resignation of the Danish government in August of 1943. (Yahil, 1969, pp. 34, 46, 47, 49, 56, 58, 67, 68, 75, 104, 116, 121, 123)
Ole Bjørn Kraft, Representative of the Conservative Folk Party, Member Rigsdag’s Foreign Policy Committee, Council of Nine
Ole Bjørn Kraft was firmly opposed to any form of discrimination or legislative actions against Danish Jews. In April 1941 he protested the forced removal of Jewish journalists from the paper, Nationidende. Kraft seconded the motion to dissolve the Danish government in the crisis of August 29, 1943. (Goldberger, 1987, p. 33; Yahil, 1969, pp. 49, 107, 125)
Christmas Møller, Leader Conservative Party, Underground Activist Leader, Danish Council, London, England, 1942-1945
Christmas John Møller was one of the principal organizers and leaders of the Danish resistance movement. Escaped to London in May 1942, and continued his resistance actions there.
Møller was leader of the Conservative Party in Denmark. He served in the Danish national government from July to October 1940. He was forced to resign under pressure from the German occupying forces. Møller was opposed to any proposed anti-Semitic measures against Danish Jews.
In a speech on October 16, 1941 he stated, “The treatment of Jews as practice in Germany is completely unsuitable to the Danish character.” Møller became a leader of the Danish underground resistance. In April 1942 he was forced to escape Denmark. He went to England and was appointed leader of the Danish Council in the Danish government in-exile. (Flender, 1980, p. 68; Jakobsen manuscript, cited in Yahil, 1969; Yahil, 1969, pp. 16, 43, 65, 94, 225-226, 330, 342, 345, 355-356, 484n11)
V. Fibiger, Danish Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs
V. Fibiger opposed anti-Semitism in Denmark. On December 17, 1941 Fibiger met with Jewish community leaders to reassure them of the support of the Danish government against attempts to persecute Jews. The following are the minutes of the meeting with Fibiger; “The Chief Rabbi reported that, at the invitation of the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, he had a meeting with him on December 8. The Minister, Fibiger stated that these were difficult times for everyone, especially for Jews. He wanted to know what the mood was among Jews, indicating that he wished to emphasize that there was no cause for alarm. He was aware of the fact that, following the signing of the Anti-Commitern Pact, which had been forced upon the Administration, rumors of a coming legislation designed to deal with the Jewish problem had spread. The Minister stated that no one in the government would even think of going along with such legislation- because in Denmark we do not acknowledge that there is a Jewish problem. He added that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Scavenius, fully concurred with the position that any request from the Germans in this matter would be rejected and that the Foreign Minister, if necessary, was ready to face a show-down on the issue. The Chief Rabbi had expressed his appreciation for this reassuring message. Within the Jewish community, the King and the government enjoyed full trust; in view of the good relationship that had always prevailed, it was unimaginable that special legislation could be introduced applying only to Jews. In this connection, the Chief Rabbi mentioned the shameful disgrace of the publication Kamptegnet. The Minister replied that the magazine ought not to be published. Though he felt that it would be inopportune for the government to ban the magazine outright, he promised that he would arrange to have it withdrawn from newsstands and forbid its advertisement in public areas. The Minister once more stressed that as long as the present government was in office the Jews need have no fears.” (Goldberger, 1987, p. 31)
Nils Svenningsen, Danish Deputy Foreign Minister
(Swedish Foreign Office, The Swedish Relief Expedition to Germany 1945: Prelude and Negotiations [Stockholm, 1956], White Book, 1956; Persson, 2009, pp. 105-106; Haestrup, Jörgen, Til landets bedste. Hovedtraek af departementschefsstyrets virke 1943-1945 [For the Good of the Country: The Main Features of the Deparmtmental Heads’ Work 1943-1945], bind I-II,Odense, 1966, Copenhagen, 1971; Departmental Head H. H. Koch, Socialministeriet under Besaettelsen [The Ministry of Social Affairs under Occupation], original manuscript at Finn Nielsen’s private archive,dossier 1, DRA; Barfod, Jörgen H., Helvede har mange navne [Hell Has Many Names], Copenhagen, 2nd Edition, 1955, pp. 29-39; Sode-Madsen, Hans, Redeet fra Hitlers Helvede. Danmark og de Hvide Busser 1941-45 [Rescued from Hitler’s Hell on Earth: Denmark and the White Buses 1941-1945], Copenhagen, 2005; Yahil, 1969, pp. 104, 106, 167, 169, 173-174, 180, 185, 192, 200, 207-209, 212, 221, 235, 329)
O.C. Mohr, Minister Danish Legation in Berlin, Germany
Requested to German Foreign Ministry officer for official permission ofDanish officials to inspect Danish citizens (Jews) in Theresienstadt and be able to send relief parcels to its citizens there. Permission was granted and members of the Danish Legation in Berlin petitioned the German Foreign Ministry to have some Jews deported to Theresienstadt released from the camp and returned to Denmark, and further deportation halted. It further requested parcels be sent to Theresienstadt for the relief of Danish Jews. Eichmann and Best agreed on the following:
Jews over sixty would not be arrested or deported.
Half Jews living in a mixed marriage would be released and returned to Denmark
All the Jews deported from Denmark to Theresienstadt would remain there and not be transferred to other camps (that is, Auschwitz), and the representatives of the Danish administration and the Danish Red Cross would pay a visit to the camp in the near future.
Eichmann replied by telegram to Werner Best on 4 November 1943:
RSHA Obersturmbannführer Eichmann has promised the implementation of the proposals in the above telegram (of Best). It has emphasized that paragraph 1 refers only to the future. As regards paragraph 2, each case will be thoroughly investigated, and only when it is clear beyond a shadow of doubt that an error has occurred will the deportees be returned. As regards paragraph 3, the RSHA agrees in principle to the proposed visit, but this should not take place before the spring of 1944. The Jews in Theresienstadt will be allowed to write to Denmark, but the dispatch of food parcels is still undesirable
(Adler TheresienstadtNote 229A; Bertelsen, 1954; Correspondence German Red Cross, Foreign Relations Department JM/1700/4; Goldberger, 1987, pp. 46-47; Tannenbaum, “Red Cross to the Rescue Yad Vashem Bulletin Oct.1959; Yahil, 1969, pp. 104, 106, 167, 169, 173-174, 180, 185, 192, 200, 207-209, 212, 221, 235, 291-293, 296, 300-301, 304, 329, 492, 492FN15-16)
Eivind Larsen, Head Danish Justice Department
(Goldberger, 1987, pp. 48-49; Yahil, 1969, pp. 174, 185, 204, 209-211)
Mr. Dige, Permanent Undersecretary, Danish Ministry of Finance
A friend of Aage Bertelsen. (Bertelsen, 1954, pp. 27, 69)
Mr. Skat Roerdam, Head of Department, Danish Ministry for Finance
Supplied 70,000 Kroner for the Lyngby Line to rescue Danish Jews. (Bertelsen, 1954)