Commemoration of the 70th Year of the Rescue of Danish Jews During World War II

October 2, 2013 at 9:22 am Leave a comment

From: Lizette Ottensten (A Danish family cousin of Bill Mohr)
To: HaitiHolocaust <haitiholocaust@aol.com>
Sent: Tue, Oct 1, 2013 2:32 pm
Subject: Re: Commemorating the 70th anniversary of rescuing Jews in Denmark

Dear Bill and Harriet

This was something I wrote for you and you are welcome to publish it. It is my version after hearing abut this all my life. After reading several articles these past days, reading about the newly published books, watching a just released film with eyewitness stories, checking the Jewish museum website www.jewmus.dk and hearing the rabbi and eyewitness stories at the celebration on Sunday. Also I have interviewed Anne-lie.

You can also read about it on www.humanityinaction.org

And a lot here: www.usa.um.dk – Commemoration of the 70th Year of the Rescue of Danish Jews During World War II

Warmest regards

Lizette

—–Original Message—–
From: Lizette Ottensten
To: HaitiHolocaust <haitiholocaust@aol.com>
Sent: Tue, Oct 1, 2013 1:34 am
Subject: Commemorating the 70th anniversary of rescuing Jews in Denmark

Dear Bill and Harriet,

These days we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the rescue of Jews in Denmark – a well known and beautiful story and a light in the dark. Denmark was occupied by the Germans from 1940 but he Danish parliament collaborated with the Germans until 1943. This meant that daily life in many ways  could continue but of course in a restricted way, and the more than 7.000 Danish Jews could continue their lives in Denmark because the Danish government succeeded in keeping the Jewish question out of the deals with the Germans. A few of them were our family – Friedrich, Betty, Lutz and Anne-Lie Ottenstein who had come to Denmark in 1939.

In 1943 the Danish government resigned and Germans took completely over. Jews in Denmark were secretly ordered deported, but a German official tipped off Danish lawmakers who told Jewish leaders. A few days before the deportation was to take place the rabbi in our synagogue in Denmark told more than 100 people who had come to synagogue in the morning that hey should not be home the following Friday. Sweden had implied that they would welcome the Danish Jews and therefore Jews in Denmark were sailed from many places along the coast in little row boats, fishing boats etc. A lot of Danes from all parts of society helped and we have since then celebrated the human aspect – the Danish people wouldn’t let their neighbors and fellow citizens be deported but helped them flee. Of course not everybody did this only because of a kind heart, some took quite a big amount of money to sail people to Sweden, but others did it without asking anything in return.

Some families also had to leave their younger kids in Denmark because they feared fleeing with kids who might cry or make noise.  They had friends or helpers in the country pretend the little kids were their own. Nobody talked much about it. The kids were saved but of course it was traumatic to be left and then 2 years later be taken away from what they now saw as their own family, when their real families returned from Sweden after the war. Some of them didn’t remember their biologic families at all anymore.

More than 7.000 Jews fled – around 500 were brought to Theresienstadt. Miraculously the Danish Jews weren’t sent to death camps from there, but 54 of them died in concentration camp.

Also the Ottensteins had to flee and their first attempt to reach Sweden was already in September. They were captured, but at that time Danish police was still in charge, so they were put in jail, but came out again after a more or less fake trial. The second time in the beginning of October when Gestapo had taken over, they succeeded getting to Sweden.

Love and thoughts

Lizette

For more details see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_of_the_Danish_Jews

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