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This article originally appeared in Yahoo! Finance.

Throughout 2023, the Consulate General of Denmark in New York commemorates the WWII events that saw the flight and rescue of 95% of the Danish Jews, 80 years ago.

NEW YORKOct. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The 1943 flight and rescue of over 7,000 Danish Jews is a unique testament to civic courage, civil society engagement, and humanity. It represents a light in a very dark time: an occasion where many Danes joined forces to help save their Jewish compatriots. It remains an important part of Denmark’s national identity and continues to inspire in Denmark and abroad. However, it is also a complex story; not all Danes came to the rescue and around 500 Danish Jews were captured and deported to Theresienstadt.

Consulate General of Denmark in New York (PRNewsfoto/Consulate General of Denmark in New York)
Consulate General of Denmark in New York (PRNewsfoto/Consulate General of Denmark in New York)

The events of October 1943 present a unique opportunity to highlight the courage to act, and to reflect on universal ethical questions and dilemmas of responsibility. In the words of Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Lars Løkke Rasmussen, these “events are as relevant today as ever, reminding us of the ordinary Danes who stood up for and had the courage to help their fellow citizens in times of dire need.”

There is still much to learn, and it is especially important to share the story with younger generations in engaging ways. Denmark and the Consulate General of Denmark in New York are involved in a series of cultural and educational initiatives to commemorate the October escape.

New exhibition in New York explores the meaning of courage

15 October, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust opened a new, groundbreaking exhibition entitled Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark. This exhibition brings to life important stories from the events in October 1943, but it also creates a new, interactive platform for talking about these stories with children down to 9 years. Through archival materials, photographs, recordings, testimonials, and other artifacts, it raises the question to the exhibition guests: Do you have the courage to act?

Featuring prominently in the exhibition is the story of the Gerda III, one of the small fishing vessels used to transport the Danish Jews to Sweden. This boat alone saved an estimated 300 Jewish lives. The captain, twenty-two-year-old Henny Sinding Sundø, will be among the exhibition narrators. The Gerda III was donated to the museum by the Danish Parliament in 1989 and is currently docked at The Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut.

Alongside the exhibition, the museum curates a program of events, virtual and in-person, highlighting unique people and perspectives. Stay updated on the activity schedule here.

‘Voices in the Void’ brings flight story to life

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken an active role in communicating the October 1943 event to children and young people in partnership with Humanity in Action, Ghetto Fighters’ House, the Danish Jewish Museum, and the Danish Ministry for Culture.

A product of that collaboration, Voices in the Void is a newly launched animated movie and educational workshop based on the testimonials from the late Bent Melchior, Chief Rabbi of Denmark, about his and his family’s nighttime flight to Sweden. The movie and supporting materials are available in four languages free of charge for middle and high schools everywhere — it is also available for free in the Bloomberg Connects app.

The official commemoration in Denmark

On October 8, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Her Majesty the Queen Margrethe II of Denmark attended a special commemorative performance at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.

This was followed by the international conference A Light in the Darkness: Lessons from Denmark during the Holocaust, arranged by the Danish Institute for International Studies and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It took place 9-10 October in the small fishing town and port of Gilleleje which was central to the escape.

The conference examined the best ways to learn from past events — good and bad — and how we can share lessons from the Holocaust with the younger generations. It also touched on the current events in the Middle East, and the continuous importance of compassion, respect for human lives, and the protection of civilians. Among the participants were the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and other international delegations. Together, they underscored the continuing importance of compassion, respect for human lives, and the protection of civilians.

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Danish Jewish Museum will publish a brief research-based, conference-related publication on the October 1943 escape.

About the Consulate General of Denmark in New York

The Consulate General of Denmark in New York is Denmark’s official representation in New York and across the East Coast. We provide advisory services and assistance in such areas as consular, commercial, investment, cultural, and press related matters.