The Liberation Message was heard on BBC exactly 75 years ago right about now as this is written.
There is an enduring myth that, although beautiful, should be corrected.
That Christian X rode the streets of Copenhagen wearing the yellow star of David.
He never did. No Jews in DK ever wore the yellow star of David, nor was there a J in their Ausweiss. (ID-papers in German and Danish issued after the Occupation.)
Until October 1943 Danish Jews enjoyed full protection under Danish as any other Danish citizens. As such they were not subjected to anti-Semitic abuse from Germans and there was little anti-Semitic abuse in general, mainly because Danish Jews by far were indistinguishably from other Danes in the day to day lives and there were so few of them, only some 8.000.
However, Christian X would have worn the yellow star had the Germans insisted on implementing it. He made that clear in a conversation with the then PM, Scavenius.
Had he worn the yellow star, there is no doubt at all, that every single Dane that did not wish to be associated with the Nazis would have worn the yellow star within 48 hours tops.
Christian X became a cult figure almost right after the Occupation in 1940 and he had a huge symbolic meaning. In fact it was very common for anyone but hardcore Communists and republicans to wear a pin with the monogram of Christian X. Your patriotism being questioned if you didn't.
And that leads me to a paradox. A paradox where it is very difficult for me to step out of the glaring light of hindsight and personal bias and look at if dispassionately, yet alone really comprehending it.
In the occupied countries entire divisions were raised to serve in the Waffen SS. The German Heer (army) took on few foreign volunteers, while several foreign Waffen SS divisions formed the core of Waffen SS.
8.000 Danes served in Waffen SS on the Eastern Front.
Why would you want to join a power that had invaded and occupied your country, in most cases with considerable devastation and loss of human lives, not to mention great national humiliation?
The answer is far from clear cut, and it's my impression that even some of those who joined could not answer that question.
Some were of course Nazis. They wanted to join this vision of a Neuropa.
Others joined for the adventure. Pretty much why some join the Foreign Legion.
Others joined because they were losers and now they had an opportunity to be someone, to enhance their status, to be on the winning side. - The Germans were winners. They looked smart, both in uniform and in drill, their weapons were hyper modern.
Some joined to escape the long arm of the law, but they were not that welcome in Waffen SS and were really not keen to do some actual fighting. Hardened criminals tend to be poor patriots.
Most, no doubt joined to fight the Communists. There was a genuine fear and hatred for Communists among larges segments of the population in Europe that is difficult to understand today so many years after the Cold War.
They didn't see themselves as traitors, on the contrary, they viewed themselves as patriots. And in many, if not most cases, revered Christian X.
Some historians have, probably with some justification, called the Second World War in Europe for the latest of the wars in the Great European Civil War. (The Thirty Year War being labelled the first.)
Whatever the reasons, these people are fascinating and difficult to understand.
Another group, the collaborators, were downright traitors. There is no other words for them IMO. They mostly signed on so late that they clearly went against the public sentiments.
Some of them, but far from all, were veterans from the Eastern Front. they were thugs, bullies and employed as such.
Their job was to do the dirty work that the Germans didn't want to do and to terrorize the population into submission, very often with indiscriminate shooting in the streets costing many, many lives.
The public hated them and the Resistance didn't hesitate in killing them whenever they had the chance - while German soldiers were left alone. And closed their eyes in return...
But who were they?
Some were of course hardcore Nazis. Many knew what way it was going and decided to go down in flames.
But most were thugs and criminals who could, within reason, act pretty much as they pleased, beating up pretty much who they wanted to and generally being lethal bullies, and fully enjoying it.
They were in no doubt as to what would happen to them, should Germany lose the war. But being in opposition to the society, its norms and the law, was for most, not a novel experience.
Many were killed in shootouts in the days after the Liberation.
There were also a number of unsolved murders in the years after the war, of people who had had a - questionable - history during the war.
It's a most fascinating subject. And equally fascinating are the unknown victims of these people. Their children, who paid dearly for what their fathers
did during the war.
Another group of unknown victims, were the wives and children of Resistance fighters after the war.
In a world were few talked about the war afterwards, with no therapy, no support groups, many suffered from PTSD in all forms and they took it out on their families, or they became alcoholics, or committed suicide.
Because the turnover rate from 1943 when the German Sicherheitsdienst took over combating the Resistance was very high!
Not least helped by informers, who were a lethal threat to the Resistance and by 1945 the Resistance was being neutralized as an efficient sabotage organization.
All that led to a tremendous psychological pressure on the individual members, who knew that if caught, they would likely face torture, probably be executed or at best send to a concentration camp. So no wonder so many had breakdowns later on.
But who were the informers and why would they inform?
They could be anyone.
They could be your sister, as was the case with one, who sold her Communist brother for a modest sum. For her it was simply a way to earn money.
They could be Nazis who perhaps picked up a piece of gossips which they passed on.
Or they could simply do it for a kick. That was the case of a school teacher, who informed on quite a few, who ended up being arrested and in several cases executed.
Others informed on people they for whatever reasons resented, whether they were Resistance fighters of not...
But many were losers who in this odd way took it out on the society and in this case the Resistance, for no other reason that they could do it.
They were top-priority for liquidations by the Resistance.
There is the myth that it was the Freedom Council, the nominal head of the Resistance groups, located in England, who careful vetted and approved all killings before giving the go ahead.
That was not the case. The decision to kill, was made on group level and the vetting process was not always adequate - in fact some turned out to have been downright criminal murders in the last months of the war, where there was virtual anarchy in DK. But many were sadly mistakes. Others more based on suspicion than hard evidence of treachery.
However, many true informers were indeed killed and justifiably so.
More than 400 were officially liquidated by the Resistance.
There were four dedicated liquidations groups operating in DK, as well as a number of "lone wolves" who operated alone or in pairs.
The groups were the most efficient. They were professional and hardened, consisting of the most dedicated Resistance members.
They consisted of people taking care of transport, ID'ing and making sure the target was there and the surroundings as safe as possible. Some provided perimeter security for those who carried out the actual liquidation, and others ensured a getaway.
In other cases they kidnapped a target, or drove away with someone who had been "found guilty". Again someone provided transport, some provided security and some did the killing.
Interestingly most in these groups were very young men, often in their early twenties. And just as interestingly many of them had no regrets, no doubts, no compassion and certainly felt no remorse, even many years after the war, on the contrary.
Recognized members of the Resistance were awarded a pension if they could not provide for themselves also upon retirement and those who are still alive today receive a yearly tax-free sum from the state paid out every four months, in the name of QMII.
That pension was also awarded to members of the Resistance who suffered from severe PTSD, even though that term didn't exist back then - again in the name of the Monarch.
It was very moving to see the Queen fight back her tears and curtsey for those who fell for Denmark. I welled up as well during the salute.
On a local level one of the most enduring impressions from the war is all the stories I've heard about how the people in my Swedish hometown watched the lights come back in Copenhagen across the water on this night all those years ago.
That's lovely, informative and an interesting part of history. Thanks.
It is wonderful that some people had the foresight to speak with all the survivors on all sides of the war. Some say cynically that history is written by the winners. This time a conscious attempt was made to learn the truth from a generation that staunchly resisted telling for 30 or more years.
QMII was spotted in Tivoli in Copenhagen on Tuesday afternoon. She was strolling along with the manager of Tivoli.
She has been involved in a play, Cinderella, that can be seen in Tivoli from 13th June.
- It is not unusual that members of the DRF accompany QMII to the premieres at Tivoli, so with a bit of luck we will see M&F and their children as well on Saturday.
I don't know if the photo in the top of the article is from today, but the second further down is an archive photo.
QMII unannounced went to the repremiere of Cinderella in Tivoli Saturday evening, together with Benedikte.
QMII was interviewed on TV2 tonight. - The interview took place at Fredensborg not that long ago and it was about QMII and the Reunification of Northern Slesvig with Denmark in 1920.
TV2 don't usually allow programs to be shown outside DK, so no link.
The interview was about the Reunification from the view of QMII and to the extend she remember it personally, the view of her family as well.
Apart from a very moving account by her grandfather, Cristian X, there really wasn't much new.
However, should anyone even think that QMII might be getting old and a bit senile, they are wrong!
Her mind is as sharp as ever, she is as perceptive as ever and her memory is still clear.
So QMII might be getting older, but her mind isn't!
Queen Margrethe attended the opening of the Kongehallen in Lejre today, June 17:
** kongehuset gallery **
** sn.dk gallery ** kendte.dk gallery **
** BB article: Margrethe fik en skøn modtagelse **
** BB article: Dronningen i topform: Se Margrethe svinge kniven **
Thanks, Iceflower. :flowers:
It was indeed a broad smiling QMII who inaugurated that building today. With a special single edged combat short chopping sword/long chopping knife to rut the ribbon. - It was sharp! The ribbon flew apart!
The Kings Hall is a reconstruction of a 61 meter long great hall/building for a king or chieftain from the 700s. I.e. the very beginning of the Viking Age.
It was a hall designed to impress, to hold court and to entertain guests.
The chieftain sat not at the end of the hall, but in the center along one of the side walls. At the benches to the side and in front of the chieftain sat relatives and the most trusted of his hird - his personal retainers.
Opposite, at the other wall, sat the most honored guest with his men and followers.
The further away you sat from the great man, the lesser your status.
The budiling is made from oak, and it turned out that the roof is self supporting. I.e. the load of the ten meter high roof does not rest on the building, but on it's own supports outside and along the building. A bit like the medieval cathedrals.
There is nothing left of the original viking settlement but the government has re-created a viking village with a building that looks much like the one opened by HM Queen Margrethe. Norstead :: A Viking Port of Trade
I'm sure she has, but not in recent years, so she may not have seen the reconstructions.
Lejre is an open air museum dedicated to the pre-medieval period and includes the Stone-age and the Iron-age culminating in the early Viking-age.
DK was so remote that the Bronze-age didn't last long. Anyway there was a shortage of raw material to produce bronze-items and an even greater shortage of bronze-smiths. But there was a large supply of flint and experts in making flint-tools. In fact the axes made towards the end of the Stone-age was of such high quality and size that they could still compete with bronze-axes. Not least when the task was to chop down larger trees.
So in a sense you can say DK went from the Stone-age to the Iron-age.
But back to Lejre.
The Kings-hall is so new, that there are still only a few photos of the hall in its fully reconstructed form.
Note the leaning beams outside the building, they support the roof.
Perhaps even better appreciated here:
Have you ever seen a queen smile so broadly?
Lejre also contains a Viking-raider-encampment. Complete with a basic palisade.
A number of ships would land at a shore, or more likely up a river, drag the ships on land, throw up a palisade and either use it as a base for raiding the local area (including collecting extortion money) or as a base for trade - whatever option suited them best.
The hit on run raids would take place further up and down the coast.
It was quite common to trade with the local king or chieftain on whose land the camp was located, while raiding the chieftain's neighbors (most likely his enemies). Or as a diplomatic bargaining chip for the local chieftain in regards to his neighbors. A "Look at my new friends - and their axes... How about you and I settle a few things, as the dear friends we have aaalways been?" :biggrin: :viking::viking::viking: :ermm:
The Vikings would typically stay for a few weeks or months over the summer.
Knowing perfectly well that it would take time for a local chieftain to raise an army large enough to overwhelm a camp with hardened warriors itching for a fight. - And who, if driven off, would likely return next summer, in bad mood...
But surely the locals could defeat a few Vikings, I hear you ask? Oh yes, and sometimes they did. But professional soldiers are expensive and they need constant training. So the whole defense in places like England and France depended on a citizens militia with relatively little training and little equipment at hand. There was after all little reason to arm those who paid taxes to you...
They were no match against a system where every free man was a trained and fully equipped warrior - and who was paid in goods, booty and honor rather than a fixed salary.
QMII is here, skillfully, wielding a sax/saex (spelling varies)
Sitting in her predecessors chair:
A chieftain would of course have a couple of his hirdmen/housecarls stading guard outside:
Notice the woman, from her attire you can tell she is married. But not a mistress of a household.
Fast forward 900 years, this peasant woman is also married and seemingly not a mistress either.
Another woman in work-clothes, from 15-1700s. Seemingly married, not a mistress of a household. Chimneys were uncommon on farms yet.
There is also an Iron-age village at Lejre.
Complete with period-rams.
Notice the digger in the background, they were pretty advanced 2.000 years ago.
Summer clothing, based on bog-mummies.
Then as now girls dressed as their mothers - the more gear, the higher status. Braids were high fashion in the Iron-age both for men and women.
An Iron-age village.
Hollowed out tree trunks for boats were still very common, as they had been for thousands of years.
The buggy in the background would have been hyper-modern in this part of Europe, and very high status.
A somewhat anachronistic dressed girl grinding flower.
New Vikings being trained, as they indeed were from that age. Notice the dreaded Danish axe.
Recent investigations have determined that the famous Viking shield-wall was used less extensively in battle as previously thought. It was used as an efficient defense against arrows and cavalry. Once hand-to-hand combat was about to happen, the shield wall would loosen up, giving the individual warrior room to move. - In contrast to the Romans and Greeks, who stayed in close formation for as long as possible.
Time to close this thread. The new one can be found here.
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