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July 26, 1963 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-07-26

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, July 26, 1963

Purely commen tary

Significant Record of Libertarian Courage in
Harold Flender's Exciting 'Rescue in Denmark'
Out of the hurban, the horrible holocaust in which six million
Jewish lives were sacrificed on the altar of Nazism, one country
emerged freer, more human, more civilized than all others:
Denmark. Of the 8,000 Danish Jews, only 472 were captured by
the Nazis and sent to Theresienstadt. The others were rescued,
they were sheltered in hiding by their Danish Christian fellow
citizens who helped them to escape to Sweden.
The story of Denmark's rescue efforts is told in "Rescue in
Denmark" ("How occupied Denmark rose as a nation to save
the Danish Jews from Nazi extermination"), by Harold Flender,
published by Simon and Schuster.
There is one telling sentence in this book that strikes at the
root of the most challenging question relating to the wholesale
massacres that were perpetrated by the Germans and that were
not stopped by the several countries where they occurred. Early
in his book Flender states:
"One cannot help but wonder what the situation might have
been for the Jews of the other occupied countries if the peoples
of these countries had been as forthright in their opposition to
anti-Semitism as the Danes."
The explanation is too simple to need emphasis: in most
countries the natives collaborated with the Nazis, and in several
they were as guilty as the Germans.
Accompanying the elaboration of the manner in which
Denmark came to the rescue of its Jewish citizens is a corollary
that spells indictment of the rest of the world—and many
American and British officials who were too hesitant in their
opposition to Nazism are not immune from guilt for what had
occurred during the darkest chapter in the world's history.
Flender's "Rescue in Denmark" is .a complete story: it is a
record of an awakening to human values as soon as the Danes
realized that their fellow citizens were chosen for extermination,
it contains a fairly accurate listing of libertarians who first
participated in rescue activities in behalf of Jews and later joined
the resistance, and it is an account of sacrifices made by people
who were determined that inhuman invaders of their country
should be ousted and punished. Many of the libertarians suffered
for their roles in that struggle, but many lived to tell their tales
to the author of this very exciting chronicle of a very turbulent
period in their lives.
While many heroes pass in review in this great drama, one
name stands out especially and his role should be made known
for future generations to revere him. Niels Bohr has his name
recorded in history inerasably as a Nobel Prize winning
physicist. It emerges much greater, however, as a result of what
he had done to assure an open door for the refugees from
Denmark in Sweden.
Flenders relates about the Allies' anxiety for Dr. Bohr to
come to the United States, there to join his friend Albert Einstein
—the "one man in the entire world who knew more about nuclear
physics than Niels Bohr"—"to work on the atom bomb." It was on
Sept. 30, just before the tragic early
days of October 1943, when the
Nazis were to have made the mass
arrest of the Jews of Denmark, that
Dr. Bohr was smuggled across in a
small boat from Denmark to Sweden
and upon his arrival there was
greeted by Churchill's personal
consultant in scientific questions,
Prof. Frederick Lindemann, who
later became Lord Cherwell. When
told of plans to take him at once
to the United States, Bohr refused
and insisted upon an appointment
with the Swedish foreign minister.
When that was arranged, he in-
formed the latter that he had no
intention of leaving Sweden until a
promise was made of a refuge in
that country for .all the Danish
"Angered by the Swedish
Niels Bohr
foreign minister's uncooperative re-.
sponse," Bohr insisted upon an audience with Sweden's King
Gustay. That, too, was arranged, and King Gustave gave the
assurance that the Danish Jews would be welcomed.
Bohr nevertheless insisted that he would not leave Sweden
until there was an assurance that the Danish Jews would be
informed formally of the haven that was to be provided for
them. He insisted that King Gustav's guarantee should be
published on the front pages of Sweden's newspapers and that
it should be broadcast to Denmark. His second demand was
conveyed to King Gustav and soon was adhered to. Then he left
for London before continuing to the United States.
Bohr took his trip to London on an unarmed RAF "Mosquito,"
and due to a faulty oxygen mask he arrived unconscious but was
not seriously hurt. In London, Bohr met with Norway's King
Haakon whose joy over the great physicist's success in his rescue
efforts "was saddened only by his (King Haakon's) bitter
recollection to Bohr of the fact that Sweden had made no such
offer in regard to the Norwegian Jews, many of whom, as a
consequence, had been killed by the Germans."
The Danish people, Jews and non-Jews, were delighted with
the news from Sweden—"only the Germans were furious"—and
the great rescue effort was about to begin.
It was on Sept. 30, 1943, that Chief Rabbi Marcus Melchior,
who was himself later to escape with his family to Sweden, told
his congregation in Copenhagen, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah,
that there would be no services for the Holy Day, that the Jews
must go into hiding immediately. Thus the Germans, when they
began their search of Jewish homes, where they were to make a
mass arrest in the synagogue, found their schemes foiled.
There are so many tales of heroism in this book that each
chapter stands out by itself as a marked contribution to the
retention of humanitarian historical records. The names of the
heroes, of the many courageous Christians who provided hiding
places for Jews and then helped them in their escape, the
dangers that were encountered in the process of this remarkable
operation, the manner in which children were given injections
in order to silence them until they reached Sweden—these and
a score of other details serve to make "Rescue in Denmark"

Genuine Libertarians


By Philip


one of the most remarkable narratives about the era of Nazi
rule. It is a record of the one bright spot in the entire period
of the holocaust. Dates and places are recorded, making
Flender's an accurate account for which he has earned everlast-
ing gratitude.
Even the story of the 472 unfortunates who went to Theresien-
stadt, many of them to survive the indignities and the cruelties,
adds significantly to Flender's valuable record. A compilation of
figures quoted from the Yad Vashem records in Jerusalem shows,
as indicated in Flender's book, that 54 of the Danish Jews sent
to Theresienstadt died there, one of them was deported to Ausch-
witz, 20 committed suicide during the tragic October 1943 period
and 20 died during their flight to Sweden.
Flender also reports that, as of Feb. 1, 1945, 9,114 of the
17,020 refugees who arrived in Sweden were non-Jews--many
of them members of the resistance movement—and the Jewish
group numbered 7,806, 686 of them non-Jews married to Jews.
There were many women among the heroes of the resistance.
A noteworthy story is told by Flender about a fishmonger, Mrs.
Ellen Nielsen, who, upon learning what the Germans intended
to do to the Jews, began her activities in the rescue movement
by hiding two brothers who occasionally bought fish from her.
Soon more than a hundred refugees passed through her house on
their way to Sweden, and at one time 30 refugees were in hiding
in her small home. Her children helped her in her work and her
eldest sons acted as guides.
Mrs. Nielsen was caught by the Gestapo in December 1944
and when, later, she was sent to the Ravensbrueck concentration
camp in Germany, she was confronted by the camp commandant
with the charge that she helped save the lives of dozens of
Jewish children. Thereupon he told her that since she was
involved in the transportation of Jewish children she would be
used to a similar advantage. She soon learned that "her assign-
ment was to carry Jewish infants too young to walk to the gas
chambers where they were put to death." She also was to carry
the gassed children to the crematorium to be burned. She soon
refused to pursue this macabre job, was condemned to death,
herself faced the gas chambers three times. Twice she bribed
guards with contents of Red Cross parcels she received from
Denmark. The third time she had nothing left to bribe with.
"Waiting on the line, stripped naked, she was resigned to
death. Suddenly she was approached by a German guard who
informed her that she had been saved. Count Folke Bernadotte
had made an agreement with Heinrich Himmler to have all
surviving Danish concentration camp prisoners shipped to Sweden
for internment."
The scores of other tales, harrowing, indicating how united
the Danish people were in their determination to oppose the
invaders, their desire to prevent the extermination of the Jews,
reveal a love for freedom and the influence of the democratic
spirit of the Danes. There were pme informers who interfered
with the work of rescue, and many of them met their doom.
Flender describes the activities in this country of the late
Henrik Kaufmann, who was the Danish Ambassador to the United
States at the time the Nazis invaded his country. Kaufmann (to
save him from great agony he suffered from an incurable disease,
his wife, early in June of this year, killed him and then took her
own life—See Commentary, Detroit Jewish News, June 28, 1963,
"Tragedy on the Diplomatic Arena") wrote to Secretary of State
Cordell Hull advising him of the German plans to round up all
the Jews in his country. Hull wanted the matter kept secret, but
Kaufmann pursued it, and prompt aid was secured to facilitate
Kaufmann's work of providing relief for the newcomers in Sweden.
The amazing development in Denmark is that the Danes
yielded to the Germans, who took over their country, without a
fight. King Christian X of Denmark immediately conceded to
German demands, although he appeared shattered in spirit. At the
same time, his brother, King Haakon VII of Norway, threatened
to abdicate if German demands were adhered to. The three million
Norwegians resisted and most of the 1,600 Norwegian Jews
It was only when it became known that the Jews of Denmark
were marked for arrest, expulsion and eventual death that the
people of Denmark began to resist. It was then the spirit of
freedom and the love for democracy reasserted itself. It was then
the Danes began to oppose the Germans and thereby redeemed
their honor in the process of rescuing Jews.
Flender's "Rescue in Denmark" is a brilliant account of the
numerous operations during which Jews • were hidden, shipped to
•Sweden, later welcomed back in all their glory.
One chapter, describing the activities of Benjamin Slor, who
would not be rescued until the group of trainees for settlement
in Palestine were given safety, is typical of the activities of brave
and dedicated Jews. There are many such stories in this book
which must be viewed as one of the significant chronicles describ-
ing the holocaust as well as the humanitarianism of those who
resisted the Nazi terror.

Mapai Party
Faction Seeks
Return of Lavon-

TEL AVIV, (JTA)—Renewed
attention to the "Lavon Affair"
spurred reports that there were
elements within t h e Mapai
Party that still expected that
Pinhas Lavon, former Defense
Minister and former secretary-
general of the Histadrut, would
eventually return to leadership
in the party.
The issue was revived by re-
ports that former Premier
David Ben-Gurion still had
hopes of re-opening the case,
which involved the forced resig-
nation of Lavon as Defense
Minister in 1955 over a security
mishap the year before. Lavon
was cleared of responsibility by
a Ministerial Committee in 1961,
a finding which led Ben-Gurion
to resign. Levi Eshkol, now
Prime Minister, was a member
of the committee.
The latest development con-
cerned a hurried public state-
ment by Reuven Barkat, Mapai
general secretary, which ex-
pressed doubt that there was
any Mapai member who serious-
ly believed that Lavon would re-
turn to a leadership role. A
Knesset deputy who is one of
Lavon's supporters, wrote a
strong letter to Barkat, asking
in whose name the statement
was issued.
The deputy, whose name was
not disclosed, declared in his
letter that he was "convinced
that there are many circles
within Mapai who want peace
restored in the party and who
would like to see Lavon again
within us actively. It is very re-
grettable for Mapai that we
have reached the_day when Bar-
kat disqualifies Lavon," the
member of Knesset wrote.

Immigrants to Israel
Include High Number
of Welfare Cases

4Direct JTA Teletype Wire

to The Jewish News)

JERUSALEM—Current immi-
gration to Israel includes a
high proportion of social wel-
fare case s, Dr. Yosef Burg,
Minister of Social Welfare, re-
ported to the Knesset during
the debate here Wednesday
over his Ministry's budget.
For the past two years, Burg
stated, 20 per cent of the new
arrivals went directly to wel-
fare offices instead of the "ship
to village" program which the
government and the Jewish
, Agency are attempting to carry
As an example of the in-
crease in cases on the Ministry's
rolls in new immigration cen-
ters, Burg cited Dimona, where
in less than three years fami-
lies receiving social assistance
increased 12 time s, although
immigration only tripled dur-
ing the period.
Social welfare allocations for
the current year total $12,300,-
000, he said.

12 Drives for Israel Authorized by Jewish Agency

The Jewish Agency in New
York has released the names
of twelve organizations which
it has authorized to conduct
fundraising campaigns for their
respective programs in Israel,
during the 1963-64 campaign
year. They are:
American Committee for the
Weizmann Institute of Science,
American Friend of the Hebrew
University, American-Israel Cul-
tural Foundation, Inc., Ameri-
can Red Mogen Dovid for Israel
Inc.( membership campaign
only), American Technion So-
ciety, Federated Council of Is-
rael Institutions, Inc. Hadas-
sah, The Women's Zionist Orga-
nization of America, Inc:, Jew-
ish National Fund (for tradi-
tional collections), M i z r a chi
Women's Organization of Amer-


ica, National Committee for
Labor Israel (Histadrut Cam-
paign), Pioneer Women, The
Women's Labor Zionist Organi-
zation of America Inc., Women's
League for Israel, Inc. (New
York area only).
The list has been made pub-
lic by the Jewish Agency's Com-
mittee on Control and Auth-
orization of Campaigns which
serves as a clearing-house for
fund-raising activities for Israel
in the United States. It was set
up in 1949 under the auspices
of the Jewish Agency and in-
cludes representatives of the
National United Jewish Appeal,
New York U.J.A., and the Coun-
cil of Jewish Federations and
Welfare Funds.
T h e Control Committee's
action followed a review of the

financial statements and pro-
motional activities of the twelve
organizations whose authoriza-
tion was contingent upon their
pledge to give priority to the
United Jewish Appeal as the
major source of philanthropic
funds for Israel's immigration,
absorption and settlement pro-
grams which today assume big-
ger proportions than for the
past several years.
The Committee stresses that
authorization of a campaign
does not imply endorsement by
the Jewish Agency, which in-
vites contributors to Israeli
causes to inquire at its offices,
515 Park Ave., New York,
(PLaza 2-0600) for information
concerning a n y fundraising
campaigns or activities on be-
half of Israel.

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