Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr 370.
(photo credit: Denmark Embassy)
The Ambassador of Denmark to Israel, accompanied by more than 100 Danish Jews,
gathered at a high school in the capital Tuesday to honor the 70th anniversary
of Denmark’s rescue of more than 7,000 Jews from Nazi persecution.
a two-day incursion between August 29 and October 1 in 1943, the Nazis, who
occupied Denmark at the time, attempted to deport the country’s nearly 7,500
Jews to death camps, but were defeated during a spontaneous uprising coordinated
by Denmark’s citizens.
In defiance of the powerful Nazi war machine,
thousands of Danes risked their own lives by hiding Jewish men, women and
children, and then utilizing row boats and other modest vessels to transport the
vast majority to politically neutral Sweden.
Danish Ambassador Jesper
Vahr spoke at the memorial ceremony at the Denmark School in Talpiot.
as Ambassador of Denmark and all Danes, can take great pride in this: The name
Denmark reminds us of our duty to protect human life,” said Vahr.
anniversary means a lot both to Danes and to Israel.”
Vahr said the
anniversary was also being commemorated throughout Denmark Tuesday, in memorials
hosted by the country’s queen and prime minister.
“What is unique about
this story is that it was not the act of one or two or three people – it was an
act by all the people of Denmark who came together to rescue the Jewish
community because Jews were an integral part of their society,” he
Vahr noted that it was his countrymen’s fundamental moral values
and strong “sense of humanism to fight the terror of racism” that led many to
risk their own lives to save a Jewish minority many had never
Indeed, shortly following Kristallnacht in November of 1938, Denmark
responded by enacting an anti-racism law supporting the civil liberties of Jews
and all other minorities in the country.
“No Jew was forced to wear a
Star of David in Denmark because the Danes thought it would be an assault on the
cohesion and values of their society,” said Vahr. “The people of Denmark said:
‘No! We will not accept any measures that infringe on the rights of any group –
be they Jews or any other.’” On October 1, 1943, Vahr said 7,000 Jews were
ferried to safety with the aid of fellow Danes, while 400 were deported to
Although Vahr said dozens of Jews died after being
deported to the death camp, he added that the vast majority were saved and
survived World War II.
“The Jews of Denmark became an inseparable part of
the Danish community, and when the fundamental ‘code’ [Danes held] that an
assault on individual Jews, or Jews in general, because of ‘who they were’ was
violated, this constituted a threat against all of our society,” he
“In October 1943, the Danish people merely drew the natural
[conclusion] from this deeply held belief.”