What Heroes are Made of

German troops invaded Denmark in April 1940 and continued to occupy the country for the following five years. Before the war began the Danish government had been unwise to cut defence spending. Hence the people were ill-equipped to defend themselves. How they were to rue the desperate situation that followed.

Recently, I read of a true hero from that time, Jorgen Kieler who is still very much alive and 95 years old. Jorgen, together with his sisters and brothers were all immediately joined the resistance movement when war broke out while others succumbed to the occupation.  The Kieler brothers agitated for support and began to actively sabotage the German forces. While the sisters, not wishing to be directly involved with fighting, began printing a newsletter describing the facts and horrors of the war, and in doing so also put their lives at risk. The persecution of the people grew, in particular the Jewish. To save lives the Kielers, sheltered and fed many of the Danish Jews towards the end of the war, and raised money for fishing boats to carry them to Sweden and safety.

Jorgen and his brother were inevitably captured and then transported to the horrible KZ camp where prisoners were worked till they collapsed from a combination of exhaustion, malnutrition, sickness, and cruel punishments. Jorgen describes how he and his brothers lives hung by a thread. They both lost all sense of reality due to their barbaric treatment. That they survived was as miracle but the scars stay in body and soul. 

The reason the four sisters and brothers took a stand against Nazism was due to their parents teaching them the values of the Western world. They were given the opportunity to travel as exchange students to Germany, France and England before the war began. First hand experiences, of Nazism in Germany and the free and fairer life in France and England influenced them strongly. While a good education learning languages and the classics stood them in good stead.

Jørgen Kieler 95 years old in 2014 photo Scanpix

Jørgen Kieler 95 years old in 2014 photo Scanpix

Today Jorgen is old and he knows his time is short here on earth. But he is still upset by left winged authors and others who write, suggesting the resistance movement was of little consequence to the outcome of the war. 

I would just like to say how glad I am that the youth of that time, fought risking their lives for what they knew to be right and in so doing made the world, we live in, a better place today. Still we should all be aware of new threats as the natural and man-made world evolves.

Jørgen Kieler




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