Heroic deeds of the Danish in 1943 remembered by locals

Danish ambassador Tobias Elling Rehfeld stands with translator in the high court Fiona Capstick, event organiser Selwyn Klass and coordinator of Second Innings Grecia Gabriel. Photo: Sarah Koning

The heroic deeds of the Danish in saving their fellow Jewish countrymen in 1943 were honoured as community members met at the Ditsong Museum of Military History in Saxonwold to watch the film, Miracle at Midnight on 8 November.

The event was organised by Selwyn Klass of the historic film society alongside communal organisation Second Innings.

Event organiser Selwyn Klass explains why he decided to bring a tribute to the Danes. Photo: Sarah Koning

The packed out auditorium seated about 150 community members representing the University of the Third Age, Decorative Arts, Good Times Club and Second Innings to learn more about the heroism showed by the Danes.

Klass opened the event by telling how Nazi Germany’s occupation of Denmark in World War II resulted in an order from Adolf Hitler on 1 October 1943 for Danish Jews to be arrested and deported. The Danish Resistance Movement together with ordinary Danish citizens promptly rallied together to save over 7 000 Danish Jews using fishing boats to transport them to neutral Sweden.

Klass’s late father initiated a 30th anniversary series of annual tributes. “Since his passing, it has been my privilege to honour that legacy and lineage.”

The newly appointed Danish ambassador Tobias Elling Rehfeld was an honoured guest at the event. He explained that his grandfather had been a member of the Danish resistance and had escaped to Sweden too. “This is a moment in our history we are extremely proud of as individuals took a stand against evil.

Newly appointed Danish ambassador Tobias Eling Rehfeld tells some of the story of how the Danes saved the lives of over 7 000 of their Jewish countrymen in 1943. Photo: Sarah Koning

Klass described the Danish heroism as spontaneous as they only had a few moments to contemplate their next move after receiving a tip-off from someone in the German hierarchy to get the Jews into hiding.

“Not only were Jewish lives saved, but their properties, pets and workplaces were saved so that when they moved back continuity was possible,” concluded Klass.

  AUTHOR
Sarah Koning

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