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Denmark’s Righteous Gentiles

by Christine Egbert

In its final and most virulent strain, Anti-Semitism is once again pandemic. It’s on the rise in Europe, in Asia, and in the United States. Most shockingly, it is on the rise on college campuses and in main-line Christian denominations. In twenty-first Century politically correct parlance this most ancient hatred for Israel and the Jewish people is now referred to as anti-Zionism.  But I am not here to tell you how Islam is fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. Most of the readers frequenting Bulldozerfaith.com are quite aware of this growing menace. So I will not waste time appalling you with all the atrocities being committed. Instead, I want to inspire you. That’s right–inspire you with some little-known history.

Anyone who’s watched Schindler’s List knows that the State of Israel honors Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. They call them: khassidey umot ha-olam–“the righteous of the world’s nations.” But what I bet you don’t know is that during World War II, one small occupied nation saved 7,000 of its 7,500 Jews over the month of October in 1943. What made the feat truly a miracle was its spontaneity.

That country was Denmark.

Bestaettelsen-1940

Their incredible, and little–known, history inspired me to write Miracle Across the Sound, available through Amazon.com and Kindle. The introduction to this historical romance novel says this:

While Flem and Liesel’s love story is fiction, the greater love story—that of ordinary Danes for their fellow citizens—is pure history. Miracle Across the Sound dramatizes their fearless and selfless actions. Ordinary folks, from ambulance drivers to Lutheran pastors, courageous men like George F. Duckwitz and distinguished men like physicist Niles Bohr, gloriously stood up to evil and shouted, “No!” in October of 1943. Their awe-inspiring, yet little known, history must be told. That is why I wrote Miracle Across the Sound.  

But there is one other reason I wrote this novel; I want to start a new line of Christian Fiction, one with characters who understand that Yeshua did not come to start a brand new religion. While the bulk of this article will focus on the historical facts I wove into the fictional storyline, at the very end, I’ll include an excerpt of the scene in which Flem tells his father about his faith in Yeshua.

In 1939, Germany signed a non-aggression pact with King Christian of Denmark, who foolishly failed to fortify the country’s border with Germany, not that it would have done much good. Then, in the wee hours of April 9, 1940, as German paratroopers rained from the sky, German soldiers docked at Langelinie Pier, and by 4 a.m., Hitler’s troops marched into Jutland.

As the Danish Army engaged in a brief skirmish, the Royal Guard defended Amalienborg Castle. Thirteen died. Twenty-three were wounded, and the Danish Navy did absolutely nothing.

Resistance would be suicidal. Denmark, unlike its mountainous neighbors, was flat. Fighters had nowhere to flee, nowhere to hide. So the King surrendered. But while Parliament was entering into a policy of negotiation with their German occupiers, Denmark’s merchant seamen were disobeying orders. Instead of sailing to neutral ports, they joined the Allied Forces.

And thus began Denmark’s occupation. But the finish of a race is more important than its start. And to properly understand what happened three years later, during the fall of 1943, one must know some Danish history.

Denmark had no ghettoes.

As far back as 1690, while most of Europe was persecuting Jews, Denmark’s Parliament fired one of its police chiefs for merely suggesting Denmark do likewise. Only that wasn’t enough. The Danish Parliament, adamant about civil and religious freedoms, went one step further. They wrote a resolution condemning ghettoes as inhuman. And so, three years after the occupation, while Jews in other German-occupied lands were rotting in ghettoes, stripped of their humanity, or dying in concentration camps, stripped of their very lives, Denmark’s Jewish citizens were still free.

Civil and religious rights were a part of Danish history. It was in their blood. It defined who they were. One bold college student, right under the noses of the Gestapo, requested audience participation one afternoon at a song-fest in Gjorslev.

The crowd was asked to sing two national anthems. The first was Denmark’s own—no surprise there. The second one caused the Reich’s dignitaries to fall out of their seats. The students stood, and as the Zionist flag was unfurled, the students belted out the lyrics to Hatikvah.

In the international press, the Danes became known as Hitler’s pampered canary. But while the Danes insisted on civil rights, they complied with working hard on the farms and factories to provide for Hitler’s war machine–at least on the surface. Without fighters hiding out in non-existent mountains, Danes resisted the only way possible: with strikes and sabotage. Both were up in the summer of 1943, and Hitler was fit to be tied. He wanted Denmark’s Jews rounded up.

On August 29, 1943, Berlin demanded an end to all Danish resistance. Public gatherings were prohibited, a curfew enacted, and press censorship imposed. Firearms and explosives were to be surrendered before September 1st. Those found in possession of them, as well as all saboteurs were to be executed. Harassment of Danes who were cooperating with the Germans would no longer be tolerated. Special tribunals to deal with infringements of the new laws were established, and the severest punishments enacted.

The Danish Parliament resigned, refusing to meet Berlin’s demands. So Germany took over, and enforced martial law.

Wanting to implement Hitler’s “Final Solution”, plans were made to round up Denmark’s Jews in a surprise raid to commence on Rosh Hashanah. Their plan might have worked had it not been for a German named Georg F. Duckwitz, who had been living in Copenhagen for several years, and was the head of German shipping.

George had heard about the raid first hand from Germany’s civilian administrator in Denmark, Dr. Werner Best, and had been agonizing for weeks about what he should do. George made his decision once the ships were in the harbor. He knew in just over twenty-four hours, on October 1st, the raid would begin.

He hurried over to where he knew the Social Democrats were meeting, and whispered into the ear of Hans Hedtoft, “The disaster is going to take place. All the details are planned. The Jews, your poor fellow citizens, are going to be deported to an unknown destination.”

Thus the miracle began. Hans Hedtoft immediately warned C.B. Henriques, the head the Jewish Community, as well as Dr. Marcus Melchior, the acting chief Rabbi.

Word that the Jews were to be rounded up for deportation to a concentration camp spread like wildfire. Only those few unwilling to believe an atrocity of this magnitude could happen in Denmark stayed, along with those who were too old or too sick. Everyone else went into hiding, sheltered by friends, neighbors, and total strangers, Danes who refused to allow evil to triumph.

When door after door had been kicked in by jackbooted S.S. men armed with howitzers, only a handful of Jews were arrested. And over the month of October of 1943, they were smuggled across the sound to neutral Sweden in fishing boats.

While in Germany Lutherans were part of the problem, in Denmark Lutherans were the solution. They loved their (Jewish) neighbors as themselves, in word and in deed.

One Lutheran pastor stored a TORAH scroll in the basement of his church until after the war. And on October 3rd, pastors in every Lutheran church throughout Denmark, read–from the pulpit–a letter denouncing Germany’s round up of the Jews.

By the end of October, 7,000 of Denmark’s 7,500 Jewish citizens had made it safely across the Sound to Sweden. Only 500 Danish Jews got deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. And all but 51 of those sent to Theresienstadt survived the Holocaust. Why? Because Danish officials pressured the Germans with their concerns for the well-being of their Jewish citizens. They demanded that they be allowed to send care packages to the Danish Jews in the camp, and just like in Yeshua’s parable of the unjust judge, Germany acquiesced.

Although I could go on and on with inspiring tidbits, I will stop, in the hopes that you will go to Amazon and buy my book, Miracle Across the Sound.

Now here is that promised excerpt from the novel:

***

Flem found his father in the parlor, seated in his usual chair. But unlike other nights his father’s feet were not up on the hassock. He sat rigid. The mystery Flem expected to find his father’s nose buried in lay page-side down on his lap.

“We need to talk,” Flem said.

His father stopped staring at the flame in the fireplace and peered at Flem over his spectacles. Flem shut the double doors, not wanting his mother and Inger to eavesdrop, then dragged a chair in front of his father’s and sat down.

“I’ve something to tell you, and please don’t try to talk me out of it.”

His father stared back in silence.

“Liesel and I are getting married.”

Still, his father said nothing.

Disliking the awkwardness, Flem continued. “We’re applying for the license first thing tomorrow. I’ll also be dropping my classes at the university. I figure I can work with Katlev until something better comes along.”

Nothing but silence. Deadening silence. Not so much as a blink.

With his excitement turned to dread, Flem leaned forward and pressed his now sweating palms against his thighs. “Aren’t you going to say anything, Father? Ask me anything?”

“I didn’t know I was allowed an opinion.”

“Of course, you’re allowed to have an opinion. I just wanted you to know that you wouldn’t be able to talk me out of my decision, especially after the way Mother and Inger behaved tonight at dinner.”

“It won’t happen again. I’ve made them both promise to apologize.”

“Father, you’re the best! I’m so proud of you.”

“Are you, my son?”

“Of course I am. How could you ask?”

Sol Lund removed his glasses, tucked them in his smoking jacket, then folded his hands. “I thought, perhaps, my being a Jew was an embarrassment.”

Flem couldn’t believe his ears. Where was this nonsense coming from?

“Why would you say such a thing, Father?”

“Inger tells me you’ve been praying to Jesus.”

Inger! Of course! Flem should’ve known. He never should’ve trusted her. But he’d have to deal with the squealing little monkey later.

“Well?” his father said. “Have you nothing to say for yourself?”

“I’ve been praying to Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah. Father, I can take you scripture by scripture and prove that he is the Messiah. Or would you rather have Katlev do it? He’s a very learned man.”

His father’s eyebrow arched. “A learned fisherman?” he said, sarcastically. “I’m impressed.”

“Years ago, Katlev studied to become a rabbi.”

“And became a Lutheran instead?”

“He’s not Lutheran! You would like him, Father, if you would just give him a chance. He’s a remarkable man.”

“More than remarkable, a genius! No! A magician! A man who makes Christians out of Jews.”

Flem forced himself to remain calm. “A Jew who worships the Jewish Messiah is still Jewish.”

Face crimson, Sol Lund jumped to his feet. “Shema Yisra’el, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad! A Jew worships only one God! Not three!”

“I don’t worship three gods, Father! Read Isaiah 48:16! ‘Come near to Me, hear this. From the beginning, from the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God’—Flem shot up one finger—‘and His Spirit’—he shot up a second—‘has sent Me,’—then a third—‘thus says the Lord your Redeemer!’ How much clearer can it get? Read it for yourself! Isaiah 48:16.”

“The Messiah, the real Jewish Messiah,” his father shouted, arm raised, finger shaking toward heaven, “will re-gather Israel and bring us peace. Your Jesus did neither! It’s been open season on Jews ever sense!”

“For centuries, great Rabbis have taught there would be two Messiahs, the suffering servant and conquering king. Only it won’t be two Messiahs, only two comings. Yeshua came the first time as Messiah ben Yousef, the suffering servant. When he comes again that’s when he’ll restore the Kingdom.”

“When I see it, I’ll believe it.”

“The Christian Messiah and the Jewish Messiah are the same.”

“The Jewish Messiah won’t do away with the TORAH. Your Jesus did.”

“He didn’t! I’ve read the book, Father, the Brit Chadasha.”

Sol Lund threw his arms in the air. His face was so red Flem feared he might have a stroke. “A Jew who prays to Jesus is no longer a Jew. He’s an ex-Jew. He’s a Christian. The two can never be the same. Now excuse me, I’m going up to bed.”

Flem blocked his retreat. “A Jew can be a Christian,” Flem said, glad Liesel wasn’t there to hear him. It would only confuse the doctrinal point he still intended to make when the time was right. “A Jew just can’t be a Gentile.”

“Christians! Gentiles! They are all the same!”

“Jews don’t stop being Jews, when they follow the Jewish Messiah. Gentiles stop being Gentiles. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be according to the book. They get grafted into Israel’s olive tree, become citizens of Israel’s commonwealth.”

“What commonwealth? There is no commonwealth, only Palestine! And it is controlled by the British.”

“Well, there was when Paul wrote to the Ephesians,” Flem said, “And there will be again.”

“You are such a fool. Britain’s King has declared ‘unequivocally’ that Palestine will not become a Jewish state. It is not his government’s policy. As it is, Jewish immigration and land transfers are severely restricted. In another ten years, who knows, by then Palestine will likely have been granted independence.”

“The Irgum party is calling for massive Jewish immigration and the formation of a Jewish commonwealth.”

“Oh really? And I have called for an end to this war! But, my dear deluded son, the Germans are still here!”

“They won’t be forever, Pop! Right now in Palestine, thousands of Jewish volunteers are joining British forces.”

“I’m quite aware of the Jewish Brigade, Flem. You’re not the only one who listens to Radio Free Europe. And stop clouding the issue! My son, my only son, is no longer a Jew.” He threw his hands into the air again. “But what does that matter? If Hitler and his friend the Mufti have their way, there won’t be any Jews anywhere.”

“There will always be Jews! And one day an Israel.”

“Well, when it materializes we can talk. For tonight,” his father said, “I’ve heard enough. I’m going to bed.”

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Denmark’s Righteous Gentiles

  1. I was Blessed to receive a copy of this Book~~ MIRACLE ACROSS THE SOUND~~
    It is such a Great read !!!! It is inspirational as it unfolds the historical truth of people coming together to risk their own lives to save the Jewish people during WWII persecution. Get this Book ASAP !!! You will enjoy the fictional characters woven together with the historical heroes !!!
    Thanks Christine Egbert for writing this wonderful Historical Fiction !!! I would never have known about these Special Danes had it not been for you and your passion to write !!!
    Looking Very Forward to reading more of your Books !!!
    Bonnie

    • Thanks, Bonnie! I am so glad you enjoyed ‘Miracle Across the Sound.” I certainly enjoyed researching and writing it. It is so sad that so many do not know this amazing history. And today, more than ever, people need to know that they can make a difference. As for other books I’ve written: I have a fantasy novella (a novella is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel), that exposes the pagan origins of Christmas and Easter. I titled it “Carol’s Christmas Herald” because I borrowed from Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol”, only instead of having three ghost visiting Scrooge, who hated Christmas, I had three angels visit Carol Drumond, a Christian who loves Christmas. It is available on Amazon.com, where there is a look inside the book feature that allows you to read the first chapter. I am currently in the process of writing another full length contemporary Christian (Hebrew Roots) Romance, titled “Return To ME” that will chronicle a young Christian woman’s journey out of the Constantinian Christianity back to the Hebrew Roots of her faith. Also, be sure to visit my website: hebrewrootsbooks.com