On the night between 1 and 2 October 1943, the action against the Danish Jews was initiated by the German occupying power in Denmark during the Second World War. In August of the same year, the cooperation policy had broken down, which had otherwise prevented the Danish Jews from being deported to the Nazi extermination camps, where more than 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. In Denmark, the vast majority of Jews managed to escape to Sweden through a great joint popular effort, but 472 Jews were apprehended and deported to Theresienstadt – some captured and others declared.
“Learn from yesterday. Live today. Strive for a better tomorrow. If not then, when? My children are my personal miracle that happened when their grandfather was rescued from occupied Denmark one October night.” Hannah Spliid
Although there have been many new angles and perspectives on the history of Denmark during the occupation and a renewed focus on the fact that the violent and terrible experiences during flight and captivity resulted in scars on both life and soul, the result of the popular effort that made escape possible, and a joint Danish and Swedish humanitarian effort, that the vast majority of Danish Jews saved their lives. It is a central and important part of both Danish history and the modern Danish self-understanding, in addition to being a light in an otherwise dark period in world history.
In 2023, it will be 80 years since these violent events took place. We live in a time where the last witnesses to history are slowly disappearing. We stand at a dividing line where it becomes more important than ever to both hear and preserve the testimonies of the survivors and remember the events that are still sadly relevant in a time of continued war, persecution and refugee flows and where anti-Semitism is still alive in Denmark as well.