The roundup of Danish Jews

On October 1, 1943, the telephones in Copenhagen were cut off. Columns of open platform lorries manned by German police drove out into the city streets from the German Headquarters at the City Hall Square.

The German police brought along precise lists of the addresses of Jewish families and were assisted by Danes who knew the locality, among them volunteers from Waffen SS , home in Denmark on furlough. At least 1,500 German policemen were available for the roundup of the Danish Jews. Within three hours, 198 had been arrested in Copenhagen. By the morning of October 2, the total number who had been arrested in the country during the roundup was 281. The vast majority of the Danish Jews had chosen to react promptly to the rumour of an impending roundup, which spread like wildfire after September 28, 1943. Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz – the shipping expert at the German Legation and adviser to Plenipotentiary Werner Best – and other anonymous Germans had warned their Danish contacts of the coming roundup.

Most Jews prepared to flee to safety in Sweden. No one could have imagined at the end of September 1943 that this would be the salvation of so many. At that point, only young men – military personnel and members of the resistance – had successfully made the attempt. How families with children and weak and elderly people should succeed in crossing the Sound was uncertain. Even so, it is clear from diaries and correspondence that Sweden quickly became the goal. Reports of Sweden’s official protests to Germany and the offer of asylum reached the Danish Jews. The Swedish ambassador delivered the offer to the president of the Jewish Community, C.B. Henriques, on September 29, and the message was officially announced on Swedish radio every hour on October 2.

The successful transport of almost 8,000 people to safety in Sweden in the course of just a few weeks would not have been possible without the help rendered by fellow Danes. The help was massive, diverse and offered in solidarity. But the available German police force was not put into action against the flight of the Jews after the roundup on October 1. The German army remained on the whole passive, despite orders to support the police. In the German headquarters in Copenhagen, pursuit of the fleeing Jews was assigned to a small group of men in the German security police’s department IV-B-4, which dealt with the Jewish question. They were completely dependent on Danish informers. The total arrests carried out in the period after the roundup night of October 1 were 191.

Space and spaciousness

- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark

The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...

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The museums is currently closed due to renovations. 
We expect to reopen at the end of August or the beginning of September.