Kaj Munk

Kaj Munk (1898-1944) was a Danish priest and author who sacrificed his life for the truth during WWII. This year it was 80 years ago the Germans occupied our country, they censured our ability to talk and write what we wanted.

As a toddler, he became an orphan, and an elderly couple adopted him and encouraged him to study and write poems. They understood that he was a highly gifted boy.

A bronze bust of Kaj Munk in the Vedsersoe Churchyard

A bronze bust of Kaj Munk in the Vedersoe Churchyard

Kaj Munk wrote theatre plays like preachings and preached like theatre plays. For more on his life, my husband Henry wrote a blogpost on Kaj Munk last year.

During the war, Kaj Munk did not bow down but continued to speak to his congregation and theatre customers about the truth and his convictions in questions of life and death. He didn’t consider the possibility of going into hiding.

Vedersoe church (from1100-1250) and churchyard

Vedersoe church (from 1100-1250) and churchyard

On his last preaching on New Years Day January 1 1944, he stood in the church with his coat on. He couldn’t go to the pulpit. He claimed that it saddened him that some of his parishioners voluntarily worked for the Germans on the Atlantic Wall and he asked them to stop their collaboration immediately. That day marked his twentieth anniversary as a vicar in that parish.

On the evening of January 4, 1944, a Nazi terrorist group came to his house in West Jutland got him in their car and drove away. The next morning somebody found his dead body in a ditch near Silkeborg. His wife and five children were now left without him.


Kaj Munk had a humorous side. He had a man working at the vicarage who wanted a recommendation for his new job. Kaj Munk then wrote that this man was never late for the meals and the utensils or working clothes didn’t wear out. His helper had been very precise in leaving his job early every day and never missed a chance to chat or to rest.

He had chosen a place right at the wall of the old church so that he would be able to hear if the organist remembered all the verses in the hymns.

Kaj Munk's gravestone in the Vedsersoe Churchyard

Kaj Munk’s gravestone in the Vedsersoe Churchyard adjacent to the church wall

Kaj Munk loved driving fast in his car and once he had an accident where he told the policeman that he had met a lamppost in the middle of the road. During the war, he might have been permitted to drive as a vicar.

He was loved by his congregation as he often visited them all. Most of them were impoverished fishermen living in a remote and windy Danish parish.


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The vicarage was saved in the last minute and restored in 2013 to become a permanent museum and learning centre about Kaj Munk’s life.

 

 

 

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