Wartime Experiences of the Danish Jews 1943-45

In the fall of 2007, The Danish Jewish Museum initiated a research and documentation project.  Its aim is to collect and disseminate knowledge about the Danish Jews’ experiences during World War II and the remembrance hereof in the postwar years. 

The museum is collecting objects, interviews and narrative accounts that can shed new light on the many different experiences of Danish Jews during the war: The years in exile in Sweden, Jewish children who were hidden in Denmark, Danish Jews in KZ Theresienstadt, the return to Denmark in 1945 and the memory of the events in the post-war period.

The flight of the Danish Jews to Sweden in October 1943 is one of the most dramatic events in recent Danish history. Denmark is famous throughout the world for "October ‘43". Despite the great international awareness and intense national interest, paradoxically, the subject has never been systematically investigated and documented. Moreover, only meagre knowledge or documentation, or none at all, exists on numerous aspects related to the fate of the Danish Jews during the war.  


In Denmark, the history of the consequences of Nazi persecution of Danish Jews has often been overshadowed by celebration of the resistance movement and the victims of political persecution. Thus the focus has been on the rescuers rather than the victims. Shifting the focus to the victims, their losses, experiences and the course of their lives, sheds new light on an event that we previously had viewed as one of the best documented in Danish history. The paradoxical result is that the more the victims’ viewpoint moves towards the centre, the clearer it becomes that they were not passive victims, but active participants, who took their fate in their own hands: who in great haste did what could be done to secure their property and goods, obtained the necessary means for flight and often organized their own transport to Sweden. 

The project is not concerned with creating victims. But an important aspect of the project is the revision of the collective and individual suppression that the flight – naturally – had costs, economic, social and emotional. And, that the after effects of the war and exile have left scars well into our era. Life in Sweden and especially the return home in 1945 were not rosy experiences for all. Not all returned to find their property and home intact and well taken care of, and even if they did, not all could resume their normal family life. 

A first result of the project is the book by project manager, PhD Sofie Lene Bak: Ikke noget at tale om. Danske jøders krigsoplevelser 1943-1945 published in 2010. The book was nominated for the award ”History book of the year” 2010 in Denmark. The English translation Nothing to speak of. Wartime experiences of the Danish Jews 1943-45 was published in 2011. Read more 

Suggested further reading, see Literature

The project will be concluded with a special exhibition opening in October 2013. 

For more information, please contact the museum at 

The project is supported by: 

Erindringsmøntmidlerne, Højesteretssagfører C.L. Davids Legat for Slægt og Venner, Konsul George Jorck og hustru Emma Jorcks Fond, Aase og Ejnar Danielsens Fond, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, Brødrene Hartmanns Fond, Farumgaard-Fonden, Knud Højgaards Fond, Allan H. Robber. M.D. USA, Bonnier AB, Kulin Family Fund, Ernst og Vibeke Husmans Fond, Nils Foss, Hotelejer Harboes Fond, Van Leer Group Foundation, Oscar Lewisohn, Ivar Samrén, Oticon Fonden and Bikubenfonden.

This research project has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Read an info folder about the project [pdf]

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...

Openings hours

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