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Resisting the Nazis: A War By Other Means

The German Invasion
On April 9, 1940 at 4:15am, Germany invaded Denmark on their way to invade Norway. The Germans said their invasion was to "protect" Denmark against the British attack. The Danish Army did not put up resistance.

“The government has acted in the honest conviction that we have saved the country from an even worse fate.”

Germans wanted to keep Denmark happy so they could exploit their labor and agriculture. They were told to treat the women with respect, avoid political arguments, and respect the Danes because they belonged to the ‘master race.’

What Is A Good Dane?
• You must not go to work in Norway and Germany. • You shall do a bad job for the Germans. • You shall work slowly for the Germans. • You shall destroy important machines and tools. • You shall destroy everything which may be of benefit to the Germans. • You shall delay all transport. • You shall boycott German films and papers. • You must not shop at Nazis’ stores. • You shall treat traitors for what they are worth. • You shall protect anyone chased by the Germans.
– Join The Struggle For The Freedom of Denmark!

This list was written by a 17year-old boy and distributed to his city’s important people– doctors, politicians, bankers, and journalists.

Challenging the occupation would have gone against the government’s policy of cooperation.
So they celebrated Danish culture by wearing traditional clothes.

They had music festivals around the country to sing Danish songs.

Things Got Worse.
• The media was no longer free. • Danish men had to join the German army. • They had to build boats for the Germans. • Life in prison was given to “enemies of Germany, the occupying power.” • The politicians still followed a policy of cooperating with the Germans. Now, song festivals and marches in the street were not enough.

The Danish people had to decide whether to fight with the Nazis or against them.

“Action is required of us all…It is our duty to have only one thing in our view, that which hurts Germany the most. Do your duty– do your work. “ • A strong underground press movement started. • Millions of copies of newspapers distributed • Writers were young people, inexperienced • People secretly listened to BBC

Political Cartoons These were sometimes mailed to Nazi offices, which made them very angry, because they were disrespectful.

“He sustains us, he unites us, he guides us.”
King Christian X rode his horse everyday through the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital. Thousands of people gathered to see him– he rode with no bodyguards. When Hitler sent him a birthday card, King Christian only responded with a note that said, “thank you.” Hitler was very angry.

Wartime Elections
• To prove that it valued Denmark’s autonomy, Germany allowed it to have parliamentary elections in 1943. • 90 percent of the population voted, and the Nazis only got 3 seats in Parliament out of 150.

Strikes •Factory workers and shipyard workers walked out. •Fisherman, police, firemen, office workers, civil servants gathered in the Sabotage city centers. •Destroyed bullet factories •Destroyed ships and weapons and cars •Over 300 incidents in the summer of Helping the other side 1943 •Gave away information to the British military. •Sent information to media outside the country.

No More!!
• The Germans fined the Danish city of Odense 1 million kroner because of a strike that became violent. • A curfew was made. • Cinemas were closed. • Strikes became punishable by death. • The Germans took over the government.
But for the Danish people of the resistance, the repression made its mission even more clear. The resistance grew stronger!

For Denmark’s Jews, the situation in 1943 grew worse.

In September, Hitler gave the order to start arresting Danish Jews. They planned to arrest them on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, when they would be at home. Until then, Jews in Denmark had been fairly safe. They didn’t even have to wear the yellow star.

“I knew what I had to do.”
Georg Duckwitz, a German who had once been involved with the Nazi Party, learned of the plan. He informed Danish politicians and started warning the important members of the Jewish community.

Ambulance drivers drove to homes of families with Jewish names and took the away to hide in safe places.

Almost every part of Danish society spoke out against the German action against Jews.
• Universities closed for a week in protest. • Clergymen sent letters and spoke about it in their sermons. • Regular people volunteered to transport the Jews to the coast. • Fishermen took them across the sea to Sweden by night.

“If we desert the Jews in this hour of misery, we desert our country.”

Jews being taken to safety in Sweden.
Denmark was able to save almost 90 percent of its 8000 Jews. It was the only country in Europe that actively and successfully worked to protect its Jewish population.

• • “If the Nazis, the cruelest killing machine in this century’s history, could be kept off balance by Danish schoolboys, amateur saboteurs, and underground clergymen, what other regime should ever be thought invulnerable to nonviolent resistance?”
• -Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall