In September, 1943, Adolf Hitler ordered Denmark’s Jewish population to be deported to the death camps. The logistics were put in place and more than a thousand German police and Gestapo moved into position, planning to begin the operation on the night of October 1.
But there was a security breach. A German diplomat, George Duckwitz, warned the Danish government, who warned Jewish families to go into hiding. In addition, many non-Jewish Danes risked their lives to hide Jews. This quickly led to a spontaneous effort to smuggle Jews to Sweden. The operation went from a haphazard effort to an organized movement of the Danish underground, using churches and hospitals as gathering points. Universities closed for a week as students helped slip Jews to the coast. From there, more than three hundred fishing boats ferried Jews to Sweden, who welcomed them unequivocally. The Danish fishermen were compensated, but no one was left behind for lack of funds. More than 90 percent of Denmark’s 7000 Jews escaped.
It was a national effort, recognized as such by Israel’s Holocaust memorial — Denmark, “Righteous Among Nations”, is honored for defying the Nazis and saving so many lives.
The Greatest War Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer, Collins, 2005, p. 168. There are 100 stories total, and yes, I’ve heard many of them before. Each story is two pages long, so these are the condensed versions, but it’s a nice light ready for a history buff.