The Miracle in Denmark
September 11th is a date that resonates in the minds of people everywhere. In 2001, some 3,000 people perished in a terrorist attack on American soil. But thinking back to 9/11/1943, some 7,000 Jews were rescued from certain death at the hands of the Nazis.
The man who engineered this miracle for 7,000 Jews was George F. Duckwitz, an expert in maritime affairs attached to the German embassy in Copenhagen. Duckwitz enjoyed excellent connections with leaders in the Danish government as well as the confidence of the Third Reich’s representative to Belgium , Werner Best. On September 11, 1943, Best told Duckwitz of the Nazi plan to round up the 7,500 Jews residing in Denmark to transport them to their deaths in the infamous German camps. The deportation was to be carried out on October 1st. After failing to get German officials to abandon the plan, Duckwitz met with Swedish Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson to seek his cooperation in a plan to remove the Jews from harm’s way. He agreed.
The Danish Jews were smuggled to the coast and transported over a period of two weeks across the Oresund to Sweden in fishing boats and other small craft. When the Germans arrived to arrest the Jews, they discovered that they were gone. Nonetheless they did search for them and they rightfully assumed that, if there were any still in country, they would be leaving by water. To fend off the Nazis, scientists infused a mixture of rabbits’ blood and cocaine and distributed it to the captains of the fishing boats. The blood attracted the dogs, but the cocaine disabled their sensory ability to track or locate anything. The Nazis were able to locate fewer than 500 Jews in Denmark. Although they were transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, the Danes were able to bring in food, medicine and other supplies. In addition, they persuaded the Nazis to allow the Red Cross into the camp to inspect the conditions. At the end of the war, more than 400 of the Jews housed in the camp were still alive and transported safely home.
When our thoughts go to the Holocaust, let’s try to remember and appreciate what the Danes did for the Jews, saving them and preserving their property in anticipation of their safe return. It is a story unparalleled during those years. One man determined that the Jews should be protected and saved. An entire nation joined him. George Duckwitz was appointed as West Germany’s ambassador to Denmark and he has been honored as Righteous Among the Nations (along with Corrie Ten Boom and others) at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust Museum.
taken from an article by Mike Evans for the Jerusalem Prayer Team