The answer to the question depends on how you define being Jewish. According to religious traditon you are Jewish if your mother is Jewish. At The Danish Jewish Museum we operate by an open definition where the individual is Jewish if she herself experiences a Jewish identity.
The three Jewish Communities in Denmark, The Jewish Community in Denmark, Machsike Hadas and Shir Hatzafon have approx. 2.000 members. A much larger number experiences a Jewish sence of belonging without being members of a community.
The total number of people who fled to Sweden in connection with the roundup of the Jews was 7,742. 1,236 were children. The number includes 686 non-Jews, who accompanied their Jewish spouses to Sweden.
265 children were born during the exile, while 101 deaths were registered (drowning accidents during the flight not included).
Guided tours can be booked by contacting Chief Rabbi Bent Lexners office.
The Danish Jewish Museum will be happy to help plan a visit to the museum before or after a visit to the Synagogue.
There are three jewish communities in Denmark and they are all found in Copenhagen. The largest community, The Jewish Community in Denmark, have their Synagogue in Krystalgade in central Copenhagen. The community Machsike Hadas, though formally part of The Jewish Community in Denmark, is located in Ole Suhrsgade. Finally, the relatively new reform community of Shir Hatzafon is based in Østerbro.
The decisive point was the timing of the roundup of the Danish Jews. In October 1943, it was no longer certain that the war would end with a German victory. Germany had suffered severe defeats in Africa, Italy and Russia. This also affected the Nazis in the German regime.
Werner Best's responsibility in Denmark remained to ensure stable deliveries of food and supplies to Germany with a minimum of military and police resources. Best knew that discrimination against the Jews was a strain on cooperation with the Danes. At the same time, he knew that there was pressure on him to solve the so-called ”Jewish question” in Denmark. Therefore he first initiated a roundup, and then took steps to sabotage its effects, primarily by leaking information about the roundup.
Werner Best was sentenced to death in 1948. In 1950 the Supreme Court commuted his sentence to 12 years, in part due to his ambiguous role in the roundup of the Jews. Werner Best was pardoned and banished from Denmark in 1951. Read more
Holocaust in Denmark
No. It is a myth that King Christian X, in reaction to the German roundup of the Danish Jews, wore the yellow Star of David. The myth is, however, based on the reality that the king expressed solidarity with the Danish Jews on several occasions in the 1930s and during the German occupation.
In addition, the King became a symbolic focus for the Danes during the occupation, not least because his daily ride on horseback through the streeets of Copenhagen was viewed as an indomitable demonstration vis-a-vis the German occupation.
When Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany on 9 April 1940 the Danish government chose to cooperate with the Germans. However, cooperation also meant that the Germans might give concessions and the Danish government refused to carry out special measures against the Jews in Denmark. The German authorities understood that an attack on the Danish Jews would arouse the anger of the population and cause the breakdown of the Danish cooperation policy.
Action against the Jews was successfully postponed until October 1943, when it was widely believed that Germany could loose the war. The German Reich Plenipotentiary and SS general Werner Best, the supreme commander in Denmark, was personally deeply involved in ensuring that the Danish Jews were warned before the roundup was carried out on October 1, 1943. Furthermore Sweden now offered asylum to the Danish Jews and rescue was just a few miles away on the other side of the strait of Øresund.
The successful transport of almost 8,000 people – 95% of the Jews in Denmark - 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. Persecution of the fleeing Jews and coast patrolling was only assigned to a small group of Gestapo men.
51 people who had been deported from Denmark died in KZ Theresienstadt. In addition, two infants were born and died in the camp.
Furthermore, one man was deported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz. Another man was deported via KZ Sachsenhausen and died in the Majdanek concentration camp.
In addition, five young chalutzim (agricultural trainees) died in concentration camps after the failure of their daring attempt to escape from Denmark to Palestine in 1943.
In all, 60 people who were deported from Denmark because they were Jews died in the Nazi concentration camps.
It can be documented with certainty that 44 people lost their lives as a direct consequence of the Nazi persecution of Jews. 20 drowned. 15 committed suicide. 6 died of shock, exhaustion and illness contracted during flight. 2 refugees were shot by the German police, while one woman was liquidated by resistance fighters because they assumed that she was an informer and had turned in her Jewish husband.
The total number of victims of the Holocaust in Denmark was thus at least 104 people.
472 people were deported from Denmark because of their Jewish descent. 470 were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp, in what is now the Czech Republic. 281 prisoners were arrested in the round up on 1 October 1943.
In the following weeks 191 were arrested, of these 189 were deported to Theresienstadt, while 2 persons were sent to KZ Sachsenhausen in Germany. One was later deported to KZ Majdanek in Poland.
A 37-year-old smith from Espergærde, Erik, drowned when he attempted to row a boat of refugees to Sweden. Jens, a 68-year-old road worker from Nørreby on the Island of Møn, hung himself on October 12, 1943, after he had been arrested on suspicion of helping refugees escape to Sweden.
We are happy to announce that the museum is getting a new point of entry, designed by the world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind. However, this means
Now you can catch a glimpse behind the scenes at the museum, and see what else is going on. Follow us @thedanishjewishmuseum
- 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...
The museums is currently closed due to renovations.
We expect to reopen at the end of August or the beginning of September.