Commemorating October 1943

en English

Humanity in Action Denmark commerated the 70th anniversary of the rescue of Danish Jews during World War II. To do so, a series of events were held to highlight the readiness and selfless effort of Danish civil society, who helped rescue the Danish Jews from Nazi deportation. In a matter of few days, the majority of Danish Jews - approximately 7,500 Danish citizens - were rescued and transported to Sweden. 470 other Danish Jews were arrested and deported to the concentration camp Theresienstadt, where most of them were later rescued and sent to Sweden on the famous “White Busses”.

This event was a rare light in an otherwise dark period of European history - history that still affects our lives today. It important to not only remember the event, but to keep retelling and discussing it – not just between researchers and academics, but also in conjunction with the broader public. The commemoration consisted of several different events. Humanity in Action Denmark educated history teachers on the subject, published a book of sources pertaining to the event, offered expert speakers and witnesses for history classes in both elementary and upper secondary school, invited select international guests, national guests and the broader public to a conference on the subject, published an anthology with different perspectives on the subject, and hosted a special performance at the Danish Royal Theatre.

In doing so, the planning committee behind this commemoration (see more below) hoped that it would not be a solitary and isolated event, but rather one that left an imprint on the guests, readers, teachers and students who participated. The planning committee also hoped the commemoration inspired thoughts, perspectives and knowledge that continue to influence all who were in attendance.

Visit the site www.oktober43.dk where the Danish Jewish Museum has listed many other events that took place across the country commemorating this historical event.

 

Events

Holocaust and Personal Resposibility

Monday the 30th of September: Seminar for teachers on the persecution of Jews in Denmark. Humanity in Action Denmark offered teachers a seminar that consisted of presentations by some of the speakers from the international conference, and presented ideas for educational themes together with Humanity in Action’s educational material and pre-existing books and films on the subject.

Speakers: Anders Jerichow, Senior Correspondent, Author and Chaiman of Humanity in Action, Denmark. Cecilie Stockholm Banke, Head of Reseach, DIIS. Constanty Gebert, Essayist and Author, Warszawa. Solvej Berlau, cand.scient.soc., Project Coordinator, DIIS. Otto Rühl, cand.mag. Educational Consultant, DIIS. Ronald Leopold, Excutive Director for the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam. Yiftach Meiri, Yad Vashem’s International School of Holocaust Studies. Wolf Kaiser, Gedenkstätte Haus am Wannsee, Berlin. Hanna Skop, refugee in Sweden’43-45. Herbert Pundik, Senior Correspondent, Author. Bo Lidegaard, Editor in Chief Politiken, Historian.

To view the program, click here. (Only in Danish) 

Civil Society: Reactions to the Holocaust 

International conference on the Rescue of the Danish Jews - Monday the 30th of Sepetember, 1st and 2nd of October: With a point of departure in the rescue of the majority of Danish Jews during WWII. Humanity in Action Denmark hosted a unique international conference on civil courage and civil society’s reaction to Holocaust in ten different European societies.

The purpose of the conference was to shed international light on the rescue of the Danish Jews, what the Holocaust has taught the world about civil courage, and the role and responsibility of civil society in the protection of minorities – not only in Denmark, but internationally. The conference focused on Sweden’s reception of the Danish Jews, civil courage among the German representatives in Denmark 1943, and on the civil reactions to the Holocaust in other European societies. The Danish Jewish Museum, the Danish Institute for International Studies, and historians from different universities and/or by themselves researched this subject thoroughly for over 10 years. This resulted in the development and publication of newer historical perspectives on the October 1943 rescue of Danish Jews

The conference also functioned as a follow-up to the new knowledge and research on the subject. Among the speakers were internationally leading researchers such as Richard Breitman (USA), Ulrich Herbert (Germany), Robert Moore (UK), Irene Levine (Norway), Ronald Leopold (Holland), Konstanty Gebert (Poland), Sofie Lene Bak and Herbert Pundik (Denmark), Annette Wieviorka (France), Karin Kvist Geverts (Sweden), Oula Silvennoinen (Finland), Anthony Giorgieff (Bulgaria), Manfred Nowak (Austria).

Special performance at the Danish Royal Theatre - The Royal Theatre’s “Gammel Scene” - Wednesday, October 2nd: Through acting, ballet and opera, the Royal Theatre performed the persecution, flight and reception of the Danish Jews during the Occupation. This special performance was sponsored by Sportsgoodfonden.

Three Stories of Flight and Genocide

Wednesday the 23rd of January - Stanley’s Gaard in connection with Auschwitz Day, the Danish international commemoration day for Holocaust and genocide: Humanity in Action Denmark invited both the public and esteemed individuals to a seminar on flight and genocide.

The speakers included Bent Melchior - Danish-Jewish refugee, Aldin Lemes - refugee from Bosnia, and Angelique Umugwaneza - refugee from Rwanda. Each presented the story of their own flight. The seminar examined any parallels and similarities between the stories. How and why did they manage to escape? What influence does civil society and social conditions have on the possibilities of escape and what can we learn from this? The chairman of Humanity in Action Denmark Anders Jerichow moderated the seminar.

 

Publications

Publication of an anthology on civil courage, civil society and the Holocaust. The anthology was published in September 2013. The anthology included contributions from international scholars and their perspectives on different forms and instances of civil courage, especially in connection with the Holocaust.

Publication of a collection of historical sources from the persecution of Danish Jews during September and October 1943 and the collection of sources was published in September 2013. The collection of sources included contemporary sources from the persecution of the Danish Jews, including the political considerations and decisions of Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the rescue mission across the Oresund strait, and Sweden’s reception of the many refugees.

 

Organizers

The work group behind the commemoration of October 1943 Humanity in Action Denmark was the project coordinator for a planning committee responsible for coordinating the commemoration of the rescue of Danish Jews during WWII.

The conference, books and educational offers were organised by representatives from Humanity in Action, the Danish Jewish Community, the Danish Institute for International Studies’ Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Danish Jewish Museum and Danish historical research. Behind the initiative was a committee consisting of: former chief rabbi Bent Melchior, chairman of the Danish Jewish Community - Finn Schwartz, senior research associate at the Danish Institute for Human Rights - Eva Maria Lassen, museum keeper at the Danish Jewish Museum - Sofie Lene Bak, advocate of the Supreme Court - Per Magid, leader of Center for Holaust and Genocide Studies - Cecilie Stockholm Banke, historians - Hans Kirchhoff and Otto Rühl, and chairman for Humanity in Action Denmark -Anders Jerichow.

The commemoration was coordinated by Humanity in Action, a transatlantic human rights organisation established in commemoration of the rescue of Danish Jews and with the purpose of inspiring young people to uphold civil society’s responsibility toward minorities. Other branches are located in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Sarajevo and Berlin. For further information, please contact october43@humanityinaction.org

Thank You