Countrymen: The Untold Story of How Denmark’s Jews Escaped the Nazis, of the Courage of Their Fellow Danes—and of the Extraordinary Role of the SS

Bo Lidegaard, trans. from the Danish by Rob Maass. Knopf, $28.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-385-35015-0
A Danish diplomat, journalist, and historian makes his impressive U.S. debut with this comprehensive account of the 1943 rescue mission that saved 6,500 of German-occupied Denmark’s 7,000 Jews from the Nazis. That King Christian X wore a yellow star in solidarity with his hunted countrymen is likely an apocryphal tale, but it is true that the monarch, government, and Danish people did do something extraordinary for the time: they denied the validity of a Jewish question. Jews were “Danish citizens... protected by Danish law.” Enough said. Despite the Danes’ refusal to cooperate—not to mention Hitler’s dependence on Denmark for food supplies—Berlin nevertheless gave the deportation orders on September 28. Results were limited: warnings had been issued in the days before encouraging Jews to seek shelter. Typically they’d hide with friends or benevolent strangers en route to the coast, where Danes and Swedes worked together to provide the refugees with safe passage to the neutral land of the latter. Lidegaard describes an evacuation that was chaotic, frightening, and highly successful, thanks in part to the tacit acquiescence of occupying Nazis who, sensing that they would soon lose the war and face the consequences, “had nothing to gain... but much to lose” by angering the Danish people. Photos. (Sept. 20)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 09/17/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 335 pages - 978-0-385-35016-7
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-7710-4712-1
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-1-78239-144-9
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