The 74th Anniversary of The Danish Police being deported to German Kz camps
September 19, 1944
Today is the 74 anniversary of the German occupiers to catch the Danish police corps. The German didn’t have confidence that the Danish police would be loyal to them in guarding buildings in danger of being sabotaged. Those who didn’t manage to go into hiding were deported to German concentration camps. My father was among the captured, though he miraculously was freed before departure from the harbour.
The Danish police corps were 10.000 and 1.960 were captured. 60 died in Buchenwald, and other KZ camps and 131 died later from diseases originating from their stay. In Denmark, a great effort was made to send Red Cross help packages. Without that the death toll would have been much higher. Our officials managed to have the status of the captured altered from Kz prisoner to prisoner of war which gave them certain rights.
A lot of those who escaped had been alerted about the plans on the upcoming arrests. One of these was a distant relative of mine who fled to an institution for retarded persons. He would play crazy when interviewed. He later travelled to some of the KZ camps to help identify dead prisoners by studying teeth from the deceased.
My Father’s Story
I have mentioned my relation to my father in a post called “My Long Journey to Overcome Fear”.
He was born in 1920 in Copenhagen into a Baptist family. His father was struggling in periods to get a job. He was a bricklayer’s assistant and did all the hard tasks in the buildings carrying the heavy bricks up on a ladder. Late in his life, he was working in a factory making scouring powder and got so-called “stone lungs”. He died far too young in 1949. My father’s mother got ill at a critical point during the war. The Germans had occupied Denmark in April 1940, and in July 1944 a general strike broke out as a reaction to executions of freedom fighters. During that strike, she was admitted to the hospital for appendicitis and as my father said:
“The physicians had disappeared to calmer places in the country and she died from the consequences as the infection spread to peritonitis. There was no cure from that.”
A few months later my father, 24 years of age, was a fire guard in different official buildings as our Royal Theatre. The young men who should have served as soldiers had this duty while doing their jobs or education. The Germans had taken over, so we had no military during the war. On the 19 September 1944, the Danish police corps were taken by the German occupiers during a fake air-raid warning.
As a guard, my father was cycling through a Central Park in Copenhagen to the place he had to guard. Two young German soldiers arrested him as they thought he too was a police officer. He fell off his bicycle by the shock and spend the day and the following night in a building at the harbour not knowing his fate. He was later released, but many policemen were sent to KZ camps.
My father as a civil guard during the war
He was doing his education as a tool-maker during the war, and in that work, he got exposed to poisonous exhume and together with the loss of his mother and the pressure of the war he got severe problems with insomnia. The doctor gave him sedatives and sleeping pills, and he never got rid of these medications for the rest of his life.
The war traumas influenced my childhood. The following quote was typical for him to say:
“Walk quietly through the doors”. Translated to ” You are not supposed to be heard at all”.
He came home exhausted and had to sleep just after the dinner and his nights were terrible. While he was away at work, we enjoyed so much the company of our mother. She told us a lot of stories from her childhood and youth, and it seemed to have been so much more fun with a lot of activities with siblings and friends. When he came home, the atmosphere changed to a more tense one, and for years I had stomach aches at dinner time. I had problems expressing myself because of insecurity. I still prefer to talk with just one at a time because it is too exhausting to watch the expressions of those I sit around and to match my conversation with the situation.
As the years went after his death in 2007, I can value him so much more. I know that he loved me, but he was so inhibited that he couldn’t express it with words and his own addiction to medications gave him so much suffering that he just wanted to be alone.
His home doctor should have reduced the doses gradually. But not many had the knowledge of how dangerous it was to be addicted to sedatives and sleeping medicine.
I have written about him in an earlier post.
This post is an excerpt from an earlier post called Remembering my father.