Denmark

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Jon G.
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Re: Denmark

Post by Jon G. » 11 May 2009 12:58

maser11 wrote:...In Copenhagen, or Zealand in general, during the early occupation, 1940-41, did life carry on as normal? What I mean is, how visible to the average Dane was Germany's presence? Was it like in movies, were there checkpoints and papers being checked? Or was it more relaxed, like life was normal except every now and then a truck would go by with a group of German soldiers on board? If you follow me?!
As far as I know, everyday life would go on pretty much as normal, up to and including a general election held in March 1943. Remember, technically Denmark was not occupied until August 1943 - although that was essentially a fiction, it was also a useful fiction with regards to keeping ordinary public life going on just as it did before. Later on things would change, but Denmark was still the occupied country which got off the easiest by parameters such as loss of life, average calorie intake and destruction and loss of property.
I relate this to some reading about the Danish Jews who were smuggled out to Sweden and places. Would the Jewish people have had to 'sneak' about and hide, or could they travel around freely? And I suppose that goes for any others who were persecuted at that time?
I don't think they even had to go underground - most Danish Jews (and there were never very many) were in Copenhagen, the only city of any size in Denmark, where it would be relatively easy to keep ordinary life going; there were no David's stars, differentiated ration brackets or ghettos introduced in Denmark after the German occupation. Also, Copenhagen and the coastal strip north of it is conveniently close to Sweden - anyone with a boat can cross the narrow body of water easily. Which is just what the majority of Danish Jews managed to do once they got wind of the impending German action against Denmark's Jews.

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Gregorus
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Re: Denmark

Post by Gregorus » 30 May 2009 09:41

Dicere est argentym, tacere aurum

Cartaphilus
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Re: Denmark

Post by Cartaphilus » 08 Mar 2011 21:13

In some moment Denmark had the status of Reichskomissariat? Was Werner Best Reichskommissar or simply an ambassador?

Thanks.

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aues_ghueder
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Re: Denmark

Post by aues_ghueder » 08 Mar 2011 21:54

My totally inane comment as a photo collector. I once found this photo that at first glance looked somewhat uninteresting. A flag, a brass band, lots of civilians marching. After I looked at it closely though I found out that it was an original photo taken by a German soldier of a demonstration march of the Danish Communist Party (DKP) dated May 1941!! That really blew me away! I was stunned that the Communist party was not banned during the occupation.

Lancelac
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Re: Denmark

Post by Lancelac » 09 Mar 2011 20:36

Hello, I'm new to this outstanding forum, and, wow, this thread goes a long way back. Long live the long living thread! :D

A few comments and answers:

First, lets be real. I think its generally acknowledged --also among Danes -- that compared with the atrocities in other European countries, the invasion as well as life during the occupation of Denmark was relatively peaceful and quiet. As documented in the prizewinning book, "Flødeskumsfronten" (by Peter Fogtdahl, 2001) and subsequent tv-series, the German soldiers had a nickname for Denmark during WWII: "der Sahnefront"!

The Invasion, 9 April 1940
When Germany attacked Denmark on 9 April 1940, there were only scarce fighting in Southern Jutland and around the King's castle, Amalienborg, in Copenhagen. Total Danish losses: 11 soldiers, 2 anti-aircraft personal and 3 border gendarmes. Even though the Danish army was vastly outnumbered and poorly equipped, it did offer some resistance. Indeed, though the precise German casulties are unknown, they are believed to be much higher than the Danish casulties. What is known is the Danish army destroyed 12 panzer vehicles, 4 tanks + many trucks and motor cycles. Nearly all this action took place in Southern Jutland where only 2,000 Danish soldiers were stationed. Several German bombers were also hit by the Danish anti-aircraft and one Heinkel He 111 was shot down. Two German soldiers were captured. Nevertheless, the Danish government officially surrendered after only two hours of fighting.

Protectorate Government 1940-43
I here refer to the wiki on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Denmark

Specifically:
As a result of the cooperative attitude of the Danish authorities, German officials claimed that they would "respect Danish sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as neutrality. The German authorities were inclined towards lenient terms with Denmark for several reasons:
• They had no particular strategic or ideological interests in the country, so they were ready to leave the responsibilities and burdens of administration to a Germanic 'brother' people.
• Their only strong interest in Denmark, that of surplus agricultural products, would be supplied rather by price policy on food than by control and restriction. Some German records indicate that the German administration had not fully realized this potential before the occupation took place, which can be doubted.
• They also hoped to score propaganda points by making Denmark, in Hitler's words, "a model protectorate." It would show to the world what a future Nazi controlled Europe could be.
• On top of these more practical goals, Nazi race ideology held that Danes were "fellow Nordic Aryans," and could therefore to some extent be trusted to handle their own domestic affairs.

These factors combined to allow Denmark a very favourable relationship with Nazi Germany. The government remained (somewhat) intact and the parliament continued to function more or less as it had before. They were able to maintain much of their former control over domestic policy.[ The police and judicial system remained in Danish hands and unlike most occupied countries, King Christian X remained in the country as Danish Head of State. The German Reich was formally represented by a Reichsbevollmächtigter ('Reich Plenipotentiary'), i.e. a diplomat accredited to the Sovereign, a post awarded to Cecil von Renthe-Fink, the German ambassador, and then in November 1942 to the lawyer and SS-general Werner Best.
Thus to answer Caraphilus' question, Werner Best (and Renthe-Fink) were Reich Plenipotentiaries, which is akin to an ambassador with full powers to represent his country.

In the beginning of the occupation, life largely went on as normal. There were no airraids, no sabotages by resistance groups (the first organized sabotage took place in Spring 1942), and relatively little shortage of foods. The only real change from normal was the blackout (obligation to cover house lightening with black curtains etc) plus the prohibition against private car driving ( due to shortage of gasoline) imposed immediately after 9 April.
Rationering of goods was introduced already at the outbreak of the war in September 1939 and it was gradually tightened and broadened as the war went on. Coal and gasoline were the first commodities to be rationed (in September 39) followed by coffee, sugar and the, but before long most daily commodities were rationed. By January 1942, it was impossible to buy coffee and cocoa.Also, over time prices skyracketted and black markets arose. But no one died of hunger during the war.
Another effect, of course, was the presence of German soldiers. Though they were largely confined to their barracks, they did visit Danish shops where many of them bought a lot of goods--something that didn't help their image in the eyes of the Danish population. But until 1942, their was no violent resistance.

Commenting on Aues-ghueder's remark, surely the Danish Communist Party was not banned until Germany attacked Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. Banning the DKP would have been a bad move due to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, wouldn't it?
Thus, until June 1941, DKP (which was represented by 6 members in parliament) continued to function like other Danish political parties which were all subject to German censorship. On 22 June 1941, Renthe-Fink ordered the Danish police to arrest 150 named Communists, including the six parliamentary members who according to Danish law should have enjoyed immunity. Subsequently, the reminder of the parliament (except from two social-liberal members) voted for the socalled Communist Law that prohibited DKP and gave the Danish police wide-ranging powers. This led to more arrests of Communist party members. At first the Communists were detained in the Danish prison camp, Horserød (north of Copenhagen) but in 1943, they were transferred to German KZ-camps. Most of them ended up in the Stutthof KZ camp. (check out this site: http://www.horserød-stutthofforeningen.dk/) The communists not arrested were very active in the resistance army where they were organized in the group called BOPA. And partly as a consequence of this, the party was very popular in the early post-war years.

Active resistance - the turning point
As mentioned, the first organized sabotage took place in Spring 1942. But it was only in late 1942, that the resistance really started to pick up. Several factors determined the timing:

• Growing disenchantment with the state of affairs ("we too must fight the Germans") but it took some time to get groups organized.
• The turning point of Nazi-Germany's war fortunes with the defeat at El-Alamein in September 1942 and Stalingrad in January 1943.
• The socalled Telegram-crisis (cf. wiki link above) in late September 1942 which marked the starting point of a soured relationship between Berlin and Copenhagen.
Last edited by Lancelac on 09 Mar 2011 21:53, edited 3 times in total.

Lancelac
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Re: Denmark

Post by Lancelac » 09 Mar 2011 21:47

More facts

Sabotage during the Danish occupation
• First sabotage was conducted by the socalled Churchill Group in April/early May 1942. The group was arrested 8 May 1942
• During the Summer and early Autumn of 1942, Communist groups planned and made several sabotages against industrial complexes and railrays.
• As of early 1943, sabotages became more frequent. From around this point in time, the Danish resistance groups were actively supported by British material and instructors. Resistance was in particularly active in Jutland (which is connected with Germany) where resistance groups focuced on breaking down the German transport (railways and airports) and communication network.
• After the invasion of Normandy, Great Britain stepped up its support to the Danish resistance groups as the allied became increasingly interested in actions that would delay German troop transports from Norway through Denmark. As a consequence, the number of sabotage actions increased further. And from then on, the Danish resistance became an important part of allied planning. In conjunction with the 5,000 Danish sailors who had participated in the allied convoys since the start of the war, this was an important reason why Denmark after all was recognized as allied partner.

Some numbers (estimates):
Industrial sabotages: 2,674 (794 in Copenhages, 1,870 in the province)
Railroad sabotage: 1,810 (3/4 in Jutland and 3/4 conducted after the invasion of Normandy).
Killings of German informers: Around 350 (officially endorsed by the Danish shadow government, Frihedsrådet)

• Civil resistance (first and foremost in the form of strikes/walk outs. Started in Autumn 1942, but evolved into a general strike, mass demonstrations and street unrests after a violent confrontation between the Danish shipyard workers and the German occupational forces in July 1943.
On 28 August 1943, Werner Best issued an ultimatum to the Danish government (prohibition of strikes and public meetings, reintroduction of death sentence etc.). The Danish government refused and early next morning, the occupational forces disarmed the Danish police and army, dismissed the Danish government and martial law was introduced ("Operation Cobra").

From then on the situation in Denmark was more akin to that of other occupied countries.

Jon G.
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Re: Denmark

Post by Jon G. » 11 Mar 2011 09:02

A few points:

Communists: indeed the DKP was only banned in 1941, but the subsequent rounding-up of Communists was aided by the fact that Danish police had been keeping tabs on known Communists for many years. That made it easier to find and capture the Communists. Denmark signed the Anti-Comintern Pact in the autumn of 1941.

Rationing/shortages: it's worth mentioning that rationing was never total (f.e. meat was never rationed) unlike practically all of occupied Europe, and Danish civilian rations (as expressed by ration cards) were more lavish than German rations.

And the Copenhagen general strike (lead by the B & W shipyard workers) was in 1944, not 1943. Worth mentioning because it took place after the Danish government had resigned in August 1943.

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aues_ghueder
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Re: Denmark

Post by aues_ghueder » 11 Mar 2011 22:08

I have scanned in the photo I mentioned, perhaps it may be interesting for this thread. I am guessing it was taken now on the first of May 1941, on the back of the photo was written "Demonstrationszug der DKP Mai 1941". cheers!
denmark_demonstrationszug_der_dkp_mai_1941_940.jpg
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Jon G.
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Re: Denmark

Post by Jon G. » 12 Mar 2011 16:34

They look more like the Salvation Army to me :) I'm not kidding. Normally, the Communists wouldn't wave Danish national flags. Rather, they would be carrying red banners.

On the other hand, national symbols of all kinds - always popular in Denmark - became even more popular after the German occupation, and that may have caused the Communists to switch to national flags for their 1941 May parade, perhaps to solicit more support to their (by May 1941) not very popular cause.

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Re: Denmark

Post by Lancelac » 12 Mar 2011 18:50

The photo is not from a Communist 1 May 1941 parade.

During the occupation, open air 1 May meetings/parades were banned.

Still, it is true that the Danish Communist party did celebrate 1 May 1941. The meeting took place at K.B. Hallen (Frederiksberg/Copenhagen).

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Re: Denmark

Post by aues_ghueder » 12 Mar 2011 19:03

I only have this text on the back of the photo to go by. The text could very well be wrong or misleading. I am sure the Photo is not a fake though as it was a rather random find. The first of May was only an assumption. It states only "May".
dkp_text_640.jpg
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HaEn
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Re: Denmark

Post by HaEn » 12 Mar 2011 19:52

Too bad we cannot see the other banner that is being worn on the other side of the Danisch flag bearer.
I am almost willing to bet that is will be the "blood and fire"banner of the Salvation army.
The instruments they are using also look like typical Salvation Army
HN

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aues_ghueder
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Re: Denmark

Post by aues_ghueder » 12 Mar 2011 21:50

I don't want to hijack this thread but I also want to find a reason not to study for my exam which I should be doing. OK, I would contend that the other flag obscured by the danish flag was a red flag. Also, being that marching bands in this period always wore a marching uniform.
Also the fact that these fellows are not wearing a "full" Salvation Army uniform but civilian dress with visor-caps which is not typical Salvation Army.
These caps are not far off from what the KPD was wearing in Germany 20 years before this photo was taken.
I searched the web a bit and it took me 30 minutes to find a picture of the DKP with Danish and Red flag like in this photo.
http://www.pladstilosalle.dk/baggrund/b ... NDEXC.HTML
komovalgdemo3a.JPG
I am sure not all marches were documented in written history, there often is a gap between audo-visial artifacts and written history.
And finally, did the Salvation Army ever go an street-marches?
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Jon G.
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Re: Denmark

Post by Jon G. » 13 Mar 2011 01:49

Regarding the subject, I think that Communists in Denmark during the occupation would make for an interesting subject in its own right, but we could equally well pursue the same discussion here.

Regarding the first picture you posted - well, they certainly look like Salvation Army to me, but I could well be mistaken, and wouldn't mind at all if that was the case. And yes, the Salvation Army do go street marching. It could also be a case of the person writing the caption on the back of the picture simply being mistaken.

Regarding the second picture you posted, that could well be from the heady days in the summer of 1945, as part of the campaign for the election that summer, where the Communists got 12.5% of votes cast (compare that to the 2.5% they got in 1939, the last election where they were legally represented) For reasons which I gave above, everybody was using national symbols by 1945, even the internationalist Communists.

I don't know when the picture is from - the site the pic is from doesn't tell - but it certainly is from an election campaign, which is why I'd put my money on 1945.

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Re: Denmark

Post by Lancelac » 18 Jan 2012 20:48

aues_ghueder wrote: These caps are not far off from what the KPD was wearing in Germany 20 years before this photo was taken.
I searched the web a bit and it took me 30 minutes to find a picture of the DKP with Danish and Red flag like in this photo.
http://www.pladstilosalle.dk/baggrund/b ... NDEXC.HTML
komovalgdemo3a.JPG
The photo is from the election campaign a few months after the war (early Autumn 1945). The photo can be dated to that election campaign due to fact that DKP's slogans at that election were "Det er handling der skal til" (Action is needed) and "Folkets vilje - Landets lov" (The will of the people is the rule of the country). Both slogans are visible in the picture. The election was one of the very rare occasions (perhaps the only one), DKP waved the Danish flag.

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