Who liberated Denmark in WWII?

Who liberated Denmark in WWII?

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The obvious encyclopedic site surprisingly has nothing on this in its article about Denmark in WWII. It alludes to a British occupation force after the war, but is not clear who actually liberated them during the war.

So who was it? British or Soviets? And where can I read more about that particular liberation?

From the article you linked:

Most of Denmark was liberated from German rule in May 1945 by British forces commanded by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery; the easternmost island of Bornholm was liberated by Soviet forces, who remained there for almost a year'.

Given the dates, one thinks that (like in many other parts which were not in the main road to Berlin) the allies did not actually liberate it during the war, but occupied it / captured the german garrison after Germany had already surrendered; the map in this other article confirms it. So, no battles (neither big nor small) and not too much activity (compared with other liberations).

"Liberation" is a bit misleading. The German occupation of Denmark ended as part of the May 4 surrender of German troops in Denmark, Netherlands, and northwestern Germany. No actual combat or invasion was involved; troops under Field Marshal Montgomery walked in essentially unopposed.

Bornholm was occupied by the Soviets during 1945-1946.

A second source with links for each part of Denmark

  • Mainland: Fighting was mostly between Danes resistance/german_hilf_polizei (also Danes).

  • Greenland: During the war protected by Britain, Canada, and USA. According to agreement with Danish ambassador Kaufmann.

  • Iceland: From 1918 until 1944 Iceland was self-governing, but the Danish King was Head of State of both Denmark and Iceland. As with the Faeroe Islands, the United Kingdom occupied Iceland (to preempt a German occupation) but later turned it over to the United States, before that country entered the war in 1941. Iceland became a fully independent republic in 1944 and has remained so thereafter.

  • Faeroe Islands: After the occupation of Denmark, British forces made a preemptive invasion of the Faeroe Islands - then still a Danish amt (county) - to prevent their occupation by German troops.

Denmark was mostly "liberated" by a surrender of German armed forces in the Netherlands, Northwest Germany, and Denmark to British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery This took place on May 4, 1945 at Luneberg Heath, Germany.

This surrender was initiated by the Flensburg government in nearby Flensburg, Germany, under Admiral Karl Doenitz, who had been appointed as Hitler's successor in Hitler's last will and testament (the Navy was the one branch of service that had not disappointed Hitler).

The Bornholm Island, well east of the rest of Denmark, was occupied by Soviet troops on May 9, 1945, notwithstanding the earlier surrender of Denmark discussed above.

The Untold Horror of How Danes Forced German POWs to Clear Mines After WWII

German POWs held by British and Canadian troops after WWII. AP

A little known slice of post-Holocaust history — the use of captured German soldiers to clear mines from the Danish coast immediately after the end of World War II — has been brought to light by a new Danish-German film that dramatizes a story heretofore rarely discussed even by Danish academics.

Who liberated Denmark in WWII? - History

It is astounding and deeply disturbing that 75 years after the end of World World Two the history of that event is being re-written before our very eyes.

That war resulted in over 50 million dead with more than half of the victims from the Soviet Union. It incorporated the worst crimes against humanity, including the systematic mass murder of millions carried out by Nazi Germany, known as the Holocaust. The victims included Jews, Slavs, Roma, Soviet prisoners-of-war and others whom the fascist Nazis deemed to be “Untermensch” (“Subhumans”).

The Soviet Red Army fought back the Nazi forces all the way from Russia through Eastern Europe, eventually defeating the Third Reich in Berlin. Nearly 90 per cent of all Wehrmacht casualties incurred during the entire war were suffered on the Eastern Front against the Red Army. That alone testifies how it was the Soviet Union among the allied nations which primarily accomplished the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Seventy-five years ago, on January 27, 1945, it was Red Army soldiers who liberated the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. It was during the Vistula-Oder Offensive which drove the Nazis out of Poland paving the way for the eventual final victorious battle in Berlin some three months later.

It is incredible that within living memory, these objective facts of history about the most cataclysmic war ever waged are being falsified or insidiously distorted.

Germany’s most-read magazine Der Spiegel, American-European journal Politico, a U.S. embassy announcement, as well as American Vice President Mike Pence, are among recent sources who have either falsified or downplayed the heroic role of the Soviet Union in liberating Auschwitz. This is part of a disconcerting trend of rewriting the history of World War Two, by which, preposterously, the Soviet Union is being equated with Nazi Germany. Such pernicious fiction must be resisted and repudiated by all conscientious historians and citizens.

Der Spiegel and the U.S. embassy in Denmark both had to issue embarrassed apologies after they separately stated that it was American forces which liberated Auschwitz. It is mind-boggling how such an error on the 75th anniversary of one of the most iconic events in history could have been made – by a leading magazine and a diplomatic corps.

More sinister was an article published in Politico on January 24 written by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki which claimed, “Far from being a liberator, the Soviet Union was a facilitator of Nazi Germany.”

The Polish politician is no exception. It has become a staple argument in recent years contended by other Polish leaders and politicians from the Baltic states who seek to revise the history of the war, blaming the Soviet Union for being an accomplice with Nazi Germany. The corruption of history is partly driven by a desire to whitewash the nefarious role played by these countries as quislings to the Third Reich who helped it carry out the Holocaust.

Vice President Pence’s speech at the Holocaust memorial event in Jerusalem on January 23 was another deplorable sleight of hand. In his address, he never once mentioned the fact of the Soviet forces blasting open the gates of Auschwitz. Pence merely said, “When soldiers opened the gates of Auschwitz…” A sentence later, he went on to mention how “American soldiers liberated Europe from tyranny.”

It is quite astonishing how brazenly false narratives about World War Two are being told, not merely by Neo-Nazi sympathizers and cranks beyond the pale, but by supposedly senior politicians and respectable media. It is perplexing how the heroic role of Soviet commanders, soldiers and people is being eroded, airbrushed and even maligned into something grotesquely opposite.

Washington’s belligerent geopolitical agenda of trying to isolate and undermine Russia is no doubt underlying the process of re-writing history in order to deprive Russia of moral authority and recast it as a malign nation. Of course the obsessive Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians neatly plays into this agenda.

This reprehensible revisionism is in flagrant contradiction and denial of international libraries of documented history, archives, official and personal correspondence, photographs, as well as first-hand witness accounts.

An excellent essay by Martin Sieff this week recounts how Soviet soldiers and medics tended to the remaining 7,000 wretched inmates of Auschwitz. More than a million others had been exterminated by the Nazis before they fled from the advancing Soviet forces.

The Soviet officer in command of liberating Auschwitz was Lieutenant Colonel Anatoly Shapiro. He was himself a Russian-born Jew. The Soviet soldiers spoke of their horror and heartbreak upon discovering the hellish conditions in which skeletal men, women and children were teetering on the brink of death. Bodies of dead lay everywhere among pools of frozen blood.

Another Jewish Soviet officer Colonel Elisavetsky told how Russian doctors and nurses worked without sleep or food to try to save the emaciated inmates.

As Sieff notes: “For Colonel Shapiro, the idea that he, his Red Army comrades and the medical staff who fought and died to liberate Auschwitz and who worked so hard to save its pitifully few survivors should be casually equated with the Nazis mass-killers would have been ludicrous and contemptible… The true story of the liberation of Auschwitz needs to be told and retold. It needs to be rammed down the throats of Russia-hating bigots and warmongers everywhere.”

Maintaining the historical record about World War Two – its fascist origins and its defeat – is not just a matter of national pride for Russians. Ominously, if history can be denied, falsified and distorted, then the danger of repetition returns. We must never let the heroic role of the Soviet Union be forgotten or belittled, especially by people who seem to have a penchant for fascism.

Who liberated Denmark in WWII? - History

By John W. Osborn, Jr.

On the night of April 8, 1940, almost four million people went to bed at peace in the midst of a world war. By the time they were having breakfast, they found themselves in the middle of it, and Denmark’s resistance, as little as it was, was already over. The German invasion of Denmark in World War II was the swiftest military conquest in history—less than three hours—but still had moments of high drama.

“I could not reproach Denmark if she surrendered to Nazi attack,” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill conceded. “The other two Scandinavian countries [Norway, Sweden] have at least a ditch over which they can defy the tiger. Denmark is so terribly close that it would be impossible to defend her.”

Denmark was just 250 “terribly close” miles from Berlin itself, its 42-mile border with northern Germany indefensible. The Jutland Peninsula, extending 200 miles into the Baltic Sea and making up 70 percent of Denmark’s mere 16,629 square miles, with its very flatness was ideal for the type of military maneuvering the Germans had just perfected in Poland: blitzkrieg, or lightning war.

The rest of the country was a geographic jigsaw of 500 islands, just 100 inhabited, none any more defendable than Jutland. Most of them were linked by skillfully constructed bridges, including the key two-mile Storstrom, connecting Masnedo Island with Sjaelland, and on it, the capital city of Copenhagen. The population was too small to build a significant army, and the last time the country had fought a war was in 1864, ending in a defeat by Prussia.

“I have not the slightest doubt that the Germans will swarm all over Denmark when it suits them,” Churchill concluded. “I would not in any case undertake to guarantee Denmark.”

Such pessimism also ran all the way to the top in Copenhagen. “Denmark is not the watchdog of Scandinavia. What is the point?” asked Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning. He and the equally depressed and desperate foreign minister, Peter Munch, had to pin their hopes—and Denmark’s fate—on a non-aggression pact with Germany. By the time it was signed on May 31, 1939, though, Hitler’s blatant violation of the Munich Pact and march into Prague two months earlier left no doubt what Hitler’s word was worth.

Back in 1937, a Danish colonel complained, “From the German view, we do actually invite occupation.” Stauning and Munch made it appear even more so after the outbreak of war, actually cutting Denmark’s army in half to just 15,450 by April 1940, 7,840 of them conscripts with just two months service.

LEFT: Prior to the German invasion in the spring of 1940, Danish King Christian X rides his horse through the streets of the capital city of Copenhagen. RIGHT: While attending a lecture on January 13, 1941, Cecil von Renthe-Fink (left) confers with Danish Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning.

If they wanted to show Hitler that Denmark was no threat, they also showed it would be no problem if the time for invasion ever came. Eventually, Hitler would find a pretext to invade through an incident the Danes had no control over, and Germany’s seizure of Denmark would provide a steppingstone to invade another country that was the real German target.

“It is in our interest that Norway remains neutral,” General Franz Halder, chief of the German general staff, recorded in his diary on New Year’s Day, 1940. The Germans were satisfied, so long as badly needed iron ore from Sweden could be shipped from Norway’s northernmost port of Narvik then sailed safely down its frozen fjords to Germany.

Halder nonetheless observed ominously, “We must be prepared to change our view on this, should England threaten Norway’s neutrality.”

From the German point of view, the Royal Navy did just that, ignoring Norwegian sovereignty to enter its waters to storm the German supply ship Altmark, liberating almost 300 British merchant seamen held captive in its hold.

The British would say the Germans committed the first violation when they did not release the prisoners once in neutral waters, and the Norwegians were complicit by not insisting, though the prisoners’ banging and yelling was plain to hear. The incident was enough for Hitler to order Norway occupied and, as an afterthought, Denmark as well.

Danish airfields were recognized as vital for any Norwegian campaign. The initial planning envisioned putting diplomatic pressure on the Danes to use them—overlooking the fact that their king, Christian X, and Norway’s own king, Haakon VII, were brothers—but the general in charge of the campaign, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, insisted on occupying Denmark as “a land bridge” to Norway.

The first Germans to invade Denmark came in the guise of tourists, a more familiar form of foreigner.

One walked along Copenhagen’s bustling Langelinie (Long Canal) in the city’s center, then made his way to the Kastellet, the 16th-century fortress, and in a different era, Denmark’s Pentagon. He asked a sergeant for a “tour” of the fortress. “He complied with my request in the friendliest manner,” the “tourist” was to remember. “To start with, he took me to the corporal’s canteen where I drank a glass of beer with him. At the same time, he told me something of the Citadel, its garrison and importance. After some beer with him, he showed me the quarters of the commanders, the military offices, the telephone exchange, the watch posts, and the old gates by the north and south entrances.”

With the tour over, the German flew home. He would be back in five days—on business.

Other “tourists” were curiously occupying themselves with some of Denmark’s decidedly less scenic sights, such as Masnedo Island and the Storstrom Bridge. In a local bar, they heard talk about the island’s forts guarding the bridge, itself guarded by “white Italians.” A special military unit? The “tourists” took note, gathered intelligence, and reported the military mystery to Berlin, with comic consequences to come.

German General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst (left) planned and led the German invasions of Denmark and Norway. Danish Foreign Minister Peter Munch wanted to believe that Hitler did not intend to invade his country.

While Danish officials tried to be hopeful, Danish officers were learning how hopeless their situation really was. Major Hans Lunding ran a spy ring in northern Germany, which sent him reports of troop concentrations, increases in military traffic, and the stockpiling of supplies. In Berlin, the Danish naval attaché got word from the Dutch military attaché, who had gotten it from an anti-Nazi officer in the Abwehr (German intelligence). “Denmark will be occupied next week.”

On April 7, one final German “tourist,” General Hans Himer, arrived by train, his soon-to-be-needed uniform in protected diplomatic luggage.

Himer was not there to see the sights so much as to have the city in his sight, proceeding to make a busy day of it, walking the Langelinie to note if it was ice free, next circling the Kastellet and finding its weakest point at the southeast King’s Gate. He phoned the information in code to Hamburg, then finally arranged for a truck to be on the Langelinie in two days—at the odd hour of 4 am.

The next day, the British made their own move regarding Norway, mining its territorial waters. Though it was a Sunday, Foreign Minister Munch met with the longtime German ambassador, Cecil von Renthe-Fink. He was an honorable Hindenburg-era holdover, too long comfortably cocooned in Copenhagen.

“Hitler has no warlike intentions toward Denmark,” Renthe-Fink genuinely believed, and he reassured Munch, who remained optimistically obtuse to the very end. In just hours, they were to have a shattering, shocking, revolting return to reality, Nazi-style.

A day earlier, German airborne commander Walter Giercke had his own meeting in a local headquarters in Hamburg housed in a requisitioned hotel following an emergency summons to fly immediately from his base in Stendahl. He found himself in a room full of nervous generals, facing a major with a map covering the wall behind him.

“See this bridge?” the major pointed to the map. It was the Storstrom. “We’ve got to capture this bridge intact. If you were dropped, do you think you could hold it until infantry arrives?”

Captain Walter Giercke was being handed the first airborne operation in history!

It was a last-minute addition to the invasion because of the report of those unknown “white Italians.” Though all he had for intelligence were a brochure and a postcard taken during a “tourist” visit, Giercke assured them that there would be no problem. “The relief of the generals surrounding me was palpable,” he recalled after the war.

Throughout the preceding Sunday, German warships were sighted off Jutland. Truck drivers coming back from Hamburg reported rolling past German troops for 30 miles. At the border, a journalist phoned his editor in Copenhagen, telling him of hearing the unmistakable sound of armor in the distance from his window.

This group of confident Danish soldiers posed for a photograph on April 9, 1940, the day the Germans invaded their homeland. According to original information accompanying the image, two of the soldiers in the photo were killed in action later that day.

Major Lunding had sent in his final report, predicting an invasion at 4 am. In Berlin, that alert naval attaché got a suspicious offer from the Germans to tour the Western Front, seeing it as a sign that they wanted him out of the way. At a banquet inside Copenhagen’s Amalienbord Palace, by contrast, the 70-year-old King Christian X, who had ruled since 1912, dismissed talk of war, heading off to the Royal Theater to laugh his way through Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

It was the last good laugh for the king for five long, dismal years.

Captain Giercke was preparing his part to make them so back at his base. “The parachutes were packed, the ammunition supplies and the weapons laced in their containers,” he wrote soon afterward. “Everything took place quickly under the cover of an alert exercise. The atmosphere was not tense, but rather ordered and tranquil. Activity on the runway was unceasing: trucks were supplying planes, Fallschirmjäger with their parachutes ready were awaiting orders, and engines were being checked. More aircraft arrived: Stukas and bombers. Finally, the paratroopers boarded the aircraft, which began to move down the runway. The squadron commander reported that his unit was going to make a “practice flight over the sea.” The airfield was abuzz with activity in the noticeably tense atmosphere, and everyone was at his post. The support and air defense were essential. The canteens were packed, and songs and marches could be heard everywhere.

“Only the platoon commanders, together with their company commander, remained in the barracks–they knew the truth about the ‘exercise,’” Giercke continued. “They also knew once they received the code word, they could discuss the mission assigned to them. This did not take long in coming. That same afternoon, orders were given to the troops. The sergeant major gathered the company. The men listened attentively to their commander: ‘The Führer has decided to attack Denmark and Norway in order to protect the Reich. We have received the order to occupy Denmark tomorrow.’”

Beginning officially at 4:15 am, April 9, 1940, the invasion of Denmark had secretly started hours before under cover of darkness with Abwehr agents cutting communications while special forces seized bridges along the border, which the nervous Danish government in the days before had pulled troops from to avoid any excuses for invasion. But it was also begun by a cruel display of diplomatic deceit.

Fifteen minutes earlier in Copenhagen, Foreign Minister Munch was awakened in his ministry apartment by a call informing him that Renthe-Fink was already on his way for an urgent meeting. Munch had just enough time to throw on a suit when Renthe-Fink arrived, the diplomat with tears in his eyes. The night before, General Himer had handed him a sealed envelope with instructions to deliver it at this odd hour, and he did not have to read it to know its contents.

Munch soon understood the diplomat’s distress.

“The Reich government has beginning today set in motion certain military operations which will lead to the occupation of strategic points on Danish soil,” Renthe-Fink announced. “The Reich government,” he droned on, “declares to the royal Danish government that Germany has no intention of through her measures now or in the future of touching upon the territorial integrity and political independence of the Kingdom of Denmark.”

Both men were bitterly aware of what those words were worth. Renthe-Fink left, calling Hitler “a man without honor,” as his own government had used his personal honor. Frantically phoning Amalienborg but getting no response, Munch had to rush to the street, hail one of the few cabs out that early, then speed off for the king.

At that moment, the German 170th and 198th Infantry Divisions and the 11th Motorized Rifle Brigade, 40,000 troops in all, were pouring over the bottleneck border with Jutland, eventually driving 25 miles north. The three border guards attempting to resist had been shot.

There was even less resistance to seaborne landings around the peninsula. At one location, Danish soldiers helped dock a German patrol boat, at which point the soldiers crammed below stormed out. Elsewhere, a Danish garrison specially trained to resist a German landing slept while it was happening.

“The availability of tanks and armored cars was the greatest importance,” one German officer said. “They broke the first Danish positions.”

Manning a 20mm Madsen rapid-fire cannon, a Danish gun crew stands vigil at a crossroads in the town of Abenra, Denmark, 16 miles from the German frontier. Sharp clashes did occur during the morning of April 9, but the weight of German arms proved overwhelming.

Denmark had, improbably, manufactured some of the best 20mm and 37mm antitank guns in the world. In pockets of not more than 30, Danish soldiers in Jutland’s little towns and roadsides quickly constructed roadblocks of felled trees and handcarts, then fired away with them. “Not smart in appearance, perhaps, but they are tough and crack shots,” a German colonel conceded about these determined, scrappy Danes.

They would actually knock out a quartet of tanks and a dozen armored cars. In 2005, the archives of the Danish gun manufacturer revealed that the Germans admitted they had 200 casualties in those few hours in Jutland, contradicting the legend of no resistance by the Danes. After firing, the Danes were either quickly surrounded or retreated into the towns to trade shots around corners in the back streets.

One company of Danish troops escaped, taking the regular morning ferry to Sweden. Another German attack was to come from the sky, aiming to make military history but ending as just a farcical footnote.

Captain Giercke was en route to his target, the Storstrom Bridge, with its supposed white Italians. “Everything was ready to go,” he wrote of the preparations. “The engines were repeatedly checked. The soldiers moved like shadows on the runway. Slowly, imperceptibly, the night gave way to the dawn, which brought a sense of relief to the captain of the transport squadron. The sun would be up in an hour. The light at this time of day made it almost impossible to distinguish sky from the sea in the mix of clouds and darkness. We took off soon after, sheltered within the gray darkness of the morning. The Danish coast appeared like a shining strip. The antiaircraft fire shone, too. The sun appeared like a gigantic red ball above the horizon. Below us were large houses, which appeared empty and asleep, the seas around us occasionally dotted with small boats. Suddenly, the large bridge appeared. A huge construction, we were upon it in no time. The aircraft continued descending, and we saw land again, the island of Masnedo. We could also see the road, as well as the railway line which crossed the island. Soon after, a chimney appeared. Finally, we got the signal: ‘Jump!’”

Giercke and his Germans did jump from 500 feet at 5:35 am, 20 minutes behind schedule. He wrote of storming the local fort: “The Danish sailors came out with their hands up and legs shaking, fear written on their faces.” In fact, though, all the Danes he found were a civilian caretaker, Henry Schmidt, and Privates Adolf Kernwein and Ole Jensen. Their sole weapon was an obsolete Remington rifle with no bullets.

A German tank rolls along the street past the Jorgensens Hotel in the town of Horsens in eastern Denmark. Curious civilians walk along the street past German soldiers and sentries posted at the hotel entrance.

The Danes had abandoned the fort some time earlier. Those “white Italians” the Germans had been concerned about turned out to be chickens, a breed kept by caretaker Schmidt.

Grabbing bicycles, the paratroopers pedaled down to the bridge, captured it without resistance, and soon, as planned, linked up with advancing Wehrmacht units. A second airdrop 45 minutes after Giercke’s captured a more critical target, the airfield at Allborg on Jutland’s northern tip. The capture of Copenhagen soon followed.

At the time Ambassador Renthe-Fink and Foreign Minister Munch were facing each other, a German passenger ship turned troop transport, the Hansestadt Danzig, was sliding unimpeded through Copenhagen Harbor. The commander of the harbor fort attempted the gesture of firing a warning shot, but winter had frozen the gun’s grease. The only other resistance that day in Copenhagen would prove to be deadlier in its soldierly symbolism.

The Hansestadt Danzig continued on to dock at the Langelinie, and in front of the few astonished dock workers already at work, 850 German soldiers trooped down the gangway, and at their head, that “tourist” back now on “business.”

The Germans split into three columns, two headed for the Kastellet, the last for Amalienborg Palace. One gate at the Kastellet was blown down by a premature explosion, killing a German soldier. The Germans simply walked through the others, outnumbering the guards. The structure, garrison, and Danish chief of staff were taken without a shot. General Kurt Himer, who had been directing events from his hotel telephone until the Danish postal authorities finally cut him off, was soon back in touch with his forces in Denmark and headquarters in Hamburg when a truck transported from the Hansestadt Danzig arrived with radio equipment.

Two other more desperate officers were on the move around town. The Danish commander in chief, General Walter Wein Prior, had left the Kastellet scant moments before the Germans had barged in, headed for the War Ministry. Prior met his naval counterpart, Vice Admiral Hjalmar Rechnitzer, who would have been the controversial figure of the day’s events, except there would never be anyone to argue for his side. Prior phoned to put Denmark’s air force, only 48 planes, into action. Just one managed to get airborne, helplessly downed in minutes, the pilot and observer killed. Half the others were quickly damaged or destroyed on the ground, while a single unfortunate Messerschmitt Me-110 fighter would be the Luftwaffe’s lone loss, downed by antiaircraft fire. The pilot and his crewman survived. As they became the sole prisoners taken by the Danes throughout the war, another German pilot landed, got out, thanked the Danes who were taking care of them, and then took off. The Danes were too surprised to take a third prisoner.

Buildings and equipment go up in flames at the German torpedo boat shipyard in Copenhagen. The fire and resulting explosions were the handiwork of Danish resistance fighters.

Meanwhile, Prior and Rechnitzer had made their way to Amalienborg to find their civilian counterparts, who were scared by the sound of scattered shots outside and on the phone with Ambassador Renthe-Fink in desperate dialogue. The German diplomat warned that Copenhagen would be bombed if the Danes did not surrender. The Danes replied that they needed their king’s consent. A few minutes later, another phone call gave rise to the day’s most controversial conversation. It came from the naval headquarters, requesting authorization to start firing.

With the crisis looming, Rechnitzer had sent some of his best commanders on sudden leave the day before. Now he, in effect, put the whole Danish Navy on leave. Without consulting his counterpart, the cabinet, or the king, Rechnitzer gave the order not to fire. At that, Prior erupted in a burst of fury, and the outrage was not to end with just him.

Outside the king’s palace, at 6 am, 20th-century German soldiers in field gray uniforms faced Danish Life Guards arrayed in Napoleonic-era uniforms domed with bearskin shakos. In a brief firefight, six Guards were killed, a dozen wounded. Surprised at the unexpected resistance, the Germans scurried off to prepare for a stronger assault, but it never took place. Inside the palace, the shooting had reduced the cabinet to pure panic. Their state of mind would improve when King Christian finally appeared.

The merry monarch of the night before was now a miserable one, pale, trembling, likely in shock, close to fainting. “Have the troops fought for long enough?” he helplessly asked General Prior.

“The troops have not fought at all!” Prior angrily answered, unaware of the scattered resistance across Jutland. “Take the government to the Hosraeltelejren military base and make a stand there.”

But Prior proved to be the lone voice of resistance. Outside, German Heinkel bombers escorted by Messerschmitt fighters were overhead, requested by Himer to drop leaflets. “Roaring over the Danish capital, they did not fail to make their impression,” Himer would note smugly. A raid was narrowly averted, called off just in time after a code was misread and thought to be authorizing the bombing.

The king finally decided it was hopeless to continue, so at 6:35 am a messenger left to deliver the capitulation to Ambassador Renthe-Fink. In their final humiliation, with no local radio on the air yet, the Danes had to resort to using the Germans’ own radio equipment at the Kastellet with a Danish wavelength to broadcast the cease-fire order to their soldiers and sailors.

Final resistance ended around 7:20 am, April 9, 1940, so while the Danes were having their breakfast, the blitzkrieg in Denmark drew to its conclusion. Ambassador Renthe-Fink and General Himer appeared at Amalienborg at 2 pm to put the finishing touches on Denmark’s debacle.

“The 70-year-old King appeared inwardly shattered,” Himer recalled. “Although he preserved outward appearances and maintained absolute dignity during the audience. His whole body trembled. He declared that he and his government would do everything possible to keep peace and order in the country to eliminate any friction between the German troops and the country. He wished to spare his country further misfortune and misery.”

Himer responded with assurances of German goodwill, though both knew, with the non-aggression pact so callously cast aside, that it would only last only as long as it suited Hitler. At the conclusion, the king, in his own attempt at goodwill, remarked, “General, may I, as an old soldier, tell you something as soldier to soldier? The Germans have done the incredible again! One must admit it is magnificent work!”

It was the last show of kingly courtesy Christian X was to show the Germans.

“My mood is quite black, and I feel extremely dejected and heartbroken,” Admiral Rechnitzer wrote. “It all seems so extremely sad to me.”

Following the arrest of Danish resistance members, civilians erupt in anger and attack German troops while turning over a military van. This incident occurred in Odense, the third-largest city in Denmark.

But it was sadder for the families of the 16 Danes who died and the 23 wounded resisting the invasion. There were two additional career casualties: Rechnitzer, scorned by his officers, and Foreign Minister Munch, who was to resign within weeks, his reputation equally in ruins.

Danes that morning walked among the Germans in a mixture of curiosity and shock. “In Prague, they spat at us. In Warsaw, they shot at us. Here, we are being gaped at like a traveling circus,” a German officer commented.

The dismayed Danes vented their anger elsewhere. “You can look anyone in the face, with your heads erect, knowing you have done your duty,” General Prior said in a message to his soldiers, but in the streets of Copenhagen, they were spat on.

The contempt spread abroad, fueled by the scenes of curiosity fraudulently presented by the Germans as friendly fraternization, announcing no casualties to give the image that they had been unopposed. In the United States, Danish naval cadets were jeered in ports while a boxing commentator complained how a one-rounder had gone down “without fighting—like a Dane.”

In 700 pages of postwar writing, Prime Minister Churchill gave the invasion one line: “Denmark was easily overrun after a formal resistance in which a few faithful soldiers were killed.” In the next five years, though, Danes were to show that if they could not fight, they could resist. The king set the tone the following morning on his customary horseback ride through the streets of Copenhagen. He refused to return a single German salute.

Danes got the message about how to act toward the Germans. It would slowly dawn on the Germans just what was behind the veneer of customary Danish courtesy. “To the Danes,” the Times of Londonobserved, “belongs the credit of inventing a new order unthought-of by Hitler: the Order of the Cold Shoulder.”

The cold shoulder soon turned to sabotage, eventually requiring three times the German soldiers to occupy Denmark as to conquer it. The Germans, under what they called their “model protectorate,” allowed the Danish courts and government to function, even leaving the schools and press alone. The Germans even allowed the only free election in occupied Europe in 1942, expecting the local Quisling party to be voted in.

The result was another Danish rout—of the collaborators, who received just three percent of the vote. The inevitable confrontation came in August 1943.

The killing of a Danish Resistance member led to a general strike, paralyzing all of Denmark while 200 acts of sabotage occurred. Fed up, the Germans handed the government an ultimatum with a seven-hour deadline. When it was rejected with just 15 minutes left, the Germans dismissed the fiction of the protectorate, imposed martial law, confined the king in his palace, dismissed the government, and moved against the Danish military. Danish troops prepared to resist, but their commander in chief, General Ebbe Goertze, ordered them not to fight. The Danish Navy in Copenhagen Harbor scuttled 29 vessels while 13 escaped to Sweden.

A few weeks later, in one of the war’s great acts of resistance, the Danes smuggled almost their entire Jewish population to safety in Sweden. Sabotage continued, and the Germans reacted ruthlessly, with more than 1,000 Danes murdered in the streets or even in their homes by terror gangs of Gestapo agents or criminal collaborators. More Danes were fated to die but, ironically, some would die while in German uniform.

Some Danes fought as volunteers in the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front, and one single bloody day, June 2, 1942, Danish SS casualties exceeded those incurred resisting the invasion of their own country by 21 dead and 58 wounded. When they returned, it would be their turn to be insulted, booed, and jeered parading through Copenhagen.

If Denmark’s invasion was almost bloodless and its occupation bloodier, its liberation came without bloodshed. The German Army in northwestern Europe surrendered to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s forces in May 1945, and the German troops in Denmark simply walked out. The Danes vowed, “Aldrig mere 9 April” (Never Again an April 9) and abandoned neutrality to help found NATO in 1949.

Author John W. Osborn, Jr., is resident of Laguna Niguel, California. He has written for WWII History on a variety of topics.


The album, which gives a stark insight into anger felt in the aftermath of the war, is now coming up for sale at C&T Auctioneers of Rochester, Kent.

Unlike other countries under German occupation, the Danish government remained in power and the country continued to function relatively normally after leaders opted to cooperate with the Nazi regime.

But, increasingly provoked by German soldiers' brutality, resistance groups started to build momentum prompting mass strikes and demonstrations across the country.

When the Danish government refused to prohibit public meetings and impose curfews on its people in response to the action, German authorities dissolved the government and took military control of the country in 1943.

Later that year, Danish citizens discovered German troops were planning to round up Danish Jews and take them to concentration camps. Many more Danes joined the resistance which then stepped up its acts of sabotage and hostile attacks against the Nazis.

Photographs which depict men being taken away at gunpoint following the 1945 liberation of Denmark are now to go up for auction

Written beside some of the pictures is the Danish word 'stikker' which translates to 'mole'

The pictures appear to show suspected conspirators being rounded up and taken away at gunpoint

A baying mob rip and burn a Nazi swastika flag during the liberation of Denmark in 1945

They managed to help the majority of Jews flee the country to neutral Sweden with only 600 out of 6,000 Danish Jews being sent to concentration camps.

It was only then that the clandestine 'Danish Freedom Council' was created and gradually unified the various resistance groups.

Danish citizens who collaborated with the Nazis were despised by their fellow countrymen who suffered brutal conditions under a tougher stance by the German occupiers for the last two years of the war.

The resistance started to publish an underground newspaper called 'Land and People' and in June 1944 the whole of Copenhagen went on strike.

This resulted in a huge backlash from German troops who cut off water supplies and electricity. Within a month, 23 Danes had been killed.

But the Danish resistance refused to give in and continued to organised strikes and acts of sabotage.

When Berlin finally succumbed to advancing Allied forces in May 1945, Germany abandoned Denmark altogether.

Some 900 Danish civilians and 850 resistance fighters were killed during the war and a further 4,000 Danish volunteers died fighting in the German army on the Eastern Front.

Within days of troops leaving, 'traitors' were rounded up and 40,000 people were arrested on suspicion of collaboration. Of these, 13,500 were punished.

In this image a car can be seen riddled with bullet holes

Another image of the car shows the blood-soaked passenger seat

The album also includes this celebratory scene of a truck carrying dozens of British paratroopers being cheered through the streets of Copenhagen

Such was the hatred of those who sided with the Nazis that capital punishment, which had been abolished in Denmark in 1930, was reinstated between 1945 and 1950 in order to execute 46 Nazi collaborators.

The album, that contains 112 photographs, shows how come angry citizens decided to take the law into their own hands if they weren't satisfied with the official punishment given.

Collaborators were attacked in the street, and ostracized from society.

The album has a pre-sale estimate of £850 and is due to be auctioned on April 30.

Matthew Tredwen, of C&T Auctioneers, said: 'This is a scarce and historically interesting photograph album showing the liberation of Denmark.

'It has some very graphic photographs of how the Danes dealt with conspirators in 1945.

'They are snapshot size photographs of scenes in the streets of Denmark with a British army general and the return on the Danish King Christian.

'Eight photographs show a woman being attacked by a group of Danish men, who strip her and paint her with swastikas, obviously she was accused of being a conspirator.

'There are photos of Nazi flags being destroyed in the streets and men being led away under guard from Danish resistance fighters.

'The album has come from a private collector after it turned up for sale at an exhibition in Germany many years ago.'


Denmark was invaded by German troops on April 9, 1940, but the Danish government was allowed to remain in power after promising to cooperate with the Nazis.

This meant that Denmark functioned relatively normally for the first two years of World War II - giving citizens little incentive to resist their occupiers in comparison to other countries in Europe.

But, increasingly provoked by German soldiers' brutality, a resistance started to build momentum prompting mass strikes and demonstrations across the country.

When the Danish government refused to prohibit public meetings and impose curfews on its people in response to the action, German authorities dissolved the government and took military control of the country in 1943.

Denmark reintroduced Capital Punishment in order to deal with Danish citizens who collaborated with the Nazis. Surrendering German soldiers pictured loading their arms on to lorry at Copenghagen barracks in 1945

Suddenly, Danish citizens found themselves at the hands of a much more brutal regime, and the resistance increased.

Later that year, resistance members learned that the Nazis intended to round up Danish Jews and send them to concentration camps.

Resistance members managed to smuggle thousands of Jews to safety in Sweden, resulting in just 600 of 6000 danish Jews being sent to the camps.

It was only then that the clandestine 'Danish Freedom Council' was created and gradually unified the various resistance groups.

Danish citizens who collaborated with the Nazis were despised by their fellow countrymen who were suffering brutal conditions under a tougher stance by the German occupiers for the last two years of the war.

When Berlin finally succumbed to advancing Allied forces in May 1945, Germany abandoned Denmark altogether.

Within days of troops leaving, corroborators were rounded up and 40,000 people were arrested on suspicion of collaboration. Of these, 13,500 were punished.

Just three weeks after the end of the war capital punishment, which had been abolished in Denmark in 1930, was reinstated between 1945 and 1950 in order to execute 46 Nazi collaborators.


The policy of the government, called samarbejdspolitikken (cooperation policy) is one of the most controversial issues in Danish history. [43] Some historians argue that the relatively accommodating policy which did not actively resist the occupation was the only realistic way of safeguarding Danish democracy and people. [44] However, others argue that accommodation was taken too far, was uniquely compliant when compared to other democratic governments in Europe, and can not be seen as part of a coherent long-term strategy to protect democracy in Denmark or Europe. [43] In 2003 Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen characterised the cooperation as "morally unjustifiable," the first time a Danish leader had condemned the war-era leadership. [45]

The black liberators who helped defeat the Nazis and free the Dutch get their due

He’s 95 now, and many of his Army comrades are gone. That makes retired Cpl. James W. Baldwin one of the last living black liberators, the African American soldiers who rolled into Holland in 1945 to fight the Nazis and helped free the Dutch from German occupation.

Baldwin still remembers that push in the final months of World War II. He fired an 81mm mortar gun at Nazi troops, who had a stranglehold on Holland during the war. Thousands of Dutch Jews had been rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The country had been ravaged by the horrors of genocide, hunger and starvation.

“We took 23 cities in three days,” recalled Baldwin, who fought with the U.S. Army’s all-black 784th Tank Battalion. “We were really moving. We were taking the cities, meaning killing Germans, and running them out. We came in and freed them. We liberated them. To know I had a role in the liberation of Holland means a lot.”

Last week in Washington, the Embassy of the Netherlands honored Baldwin and hundreds of other black soldiers as part of its commemoration of the 75th anniversary of liberation.

“The citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands express their sincere appreciation and gratitude for your sacrifice, courage, and willingness to fight for freedom while enduring the hardships of war,” the embassy wrote in a certificate of appreciation presented to Baldwin. “… Seventy-five years later, the footprints of courageous men like you are still found in our thriving economy, our stable government, and in our hearts and minds. Freedom sways in the wind while our flag flutters in peace. We will never forget.”

The liberation of Holland, which had been invaded by the Nazis in 1940, began after thousands of Allied troops landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Allied forces drove German troops from France and Belgium. By September 1944, the Allies arrived in the Netherlands.

Who liberated Denmark in WWII? - History

5 May 1945 and 5 April 1946

What was the occupation time?
During World War II, neutral Denmark was attacked and captured by Germany on April 9, 1940. On the same day, the Danish government chose to bow to the German demand for unconditional surrender. Denmark was thus occupied by the German occupying power, and the occupation lasted until the German surrender on 5 May 1945. However, Bornholm Island was not liberated until 5 April 1946 because of the Soviet Unions occupation of the island.

These well over five years have since been called the Danish occupation period, and the words signal that during that time Denmark was occupied and subject to a foreign power. So under a German supremacy.
This immediately meant that Denmark shared a harsh fate with countries such as Norway, France and Poland, which were also occupied by Nazi Germany. But unlike these countries, the occupation of Denmark was far more gentle. Denmark was not treated as a hostile, war-obsessed country, where the Germans took over the state's authority and systematically oppressed and abused its population. On the contrary, the Germans regarded Denmark as a special case, which entailed a peaceful occupation with emphasis on the Danes as good trading partners.
In this way, government, state and public administration could in many ways continue on Danish hands in the period after April 9, 1940.

Which dates are particularly important in the occupation period of Denmark?
Four dates are particularly important when dealing with the Danish occupation period:
- April 9, 1940
- August 29, 1943
- May 5, 1945.
- April 5, 1946.
The dates are milestones in the "tale" of when Denmark became occupied, went to resistance and was liberated. One can thus speak of a phase before and a phase after the August uprising in 1943. The first phase was the sign of cooperation, while the second phase belonged to the resistance.

What was the August uprising and the reason for it?
The August 1943 uprising included a series of general strikes, mass demonstrations and violent street riots, which took place in Danish provincial towns, where ordinary people openly revolted against the occupying power.
The August uprising was a decisive factor in the fall of the Scavenius government, and the uprising triggered an avalanche of events that caused the Danish-German cooperation policy to change character. The August uprising marked a turning point in the occupation period towards a new, second phase.
The August uprising took place in the face of the major and decisive German defeats in Russia and Africa, as well as the eventual fall of fascist Italy. This created an optimistic and aggressive atmosphere in the Danish population, which began to believe in the war and thus the end of the Occupation.
At the same time, the German occupation force sharpened its course as a result of significantly more Danish sabotage actions.

How did the liberation proceed?
Friday, May 4, 1945 at 20:35 the message of liberation was heard on the BBC's radio: "At this moment it is announced that Montgomery has announced that the German troops in the Netherlands, North West Germany and Denmark have surrendered." According to "Gad's Lexicon of Danish Occupation Period 1940-45", page 26 (see sources). Denmark was free again! Cheering crowds filled the street scene. In the windows, candles were lit as a sign that the dark time was over.
The next morning, May 5, at 1 p.m. At 08.00 the German capitulation came into force. This happened by the English General Dewing landing in Copenhagen and receiving the formal capitulation of German General Lindemann.
However, Bornholm had to wait until 9 May at. 00:00 on the Germans surrendering to the Soviet forces.

On May 12, the Danes were able to celebrate their English liberator and hero, Field Marshal Montgomery, who drove through Copenhagen in triumph. On May 5, the underground army was mobilized. With this, the strong military waiting groups, the Danish Brigade and all the "Latter-day Saints" finally came into action.

As the island of Bornholm together with the surrounding island were "liberated" by the Soviet Union 9 May 1945 they became at the same time occupied by the Soviet tropes. This occupation lasted until 5 April 1946 when the Soviet tropes at last leaved the islands.

Danish sabotage
In December 1943, Germany announced that its troops would blow up any Danish business unwilling to give supplies to Germany. The Danish resistance reacted by sabotaging the railroad tracks used by Germany to move its troops across Europe. In response, Germany arrested those resistance members responsible for the explosions and sent them to labor camps in Germany. The Nazis also blamed the Danish police force for the country's defiance and sent almost the entire force to concentration camps in 1944.

The Nazis did not allow the Danish government that had been in place until September 1943 to return to power. They dissolved the parliament, took away King Christian's power, and placed him under house arrest. Denmark's main source of guidance was now the Danish Freedom Council. This group served openly as the main body of the Danish resistance, and Denmark now looked to its members for leadership.

During the spring of 1945, Germany was losing its control over most of Europe. On May 5, the Nazis finally surrendered to the Allies. Danes hung welcome signs and thank-you posters to get ready for the arrival of British troops white candles glowed in the windows of most Danish homes--bright symbols of hope for the future. After more than five years of German occupation, Danes would once again rule Denmark.

World War II took its toll across Europe. Denmark lost some of its citizens, but its losses were not nearly as great as in neighboring countries. Of 5,975 Danes imprisoned in camps by the Germans, 562 died. This number includes 58 of the 474 Danish Jews sent to Theresienstadt in October 1943.

Source: The Bitter Years: 'The Invasion and Occupation of Denmark and Norway April 1940-May 1945' by Richard Petrow and 'Denmark during the final years' by the Royal Danish Embassy, Washington, D.C.

Welcome to Peachtree Publishers' Guide to

Relating an important message in a powerful yet sensitive way, The Yellow Star is a great way to introduce the sensitive topic of the Holocaust to younger students. The book also ties in well to discussions of World War II.

This website contains information for adults and children about World War II, as well as a teachers' guide featuring suggestions for lessons to use before, during, and after reading the book, as well as internet activities, resources for teachers and librarians, and interdisciplinary connections to language arts, social studies, and art.

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So all the informations on this page is to inform you about the time when Denmark was freed from the German occupation and the end of the World War II. This happened in most of Denmark on 5 May 1945. The eastern island Bornholm stayed occupied of the Russian until 5 April 1946 and this also was a day of happiness when all of Denmark finally became free again.
In May 2020 Some Danish Radio Amateurs are going together in a Team to celebrate this special day 75 years ago, and you may find informations on this website for your chance to adopt a special Award.

The postwar period

The liberation was followed by trials of collaborators 25 Norwegians, including Quisling (whose name has become a byword for a collaborating traitor), were sentenced to death and executed, and some 19,000 received prison sentences. By a strict policy that gave priority to the reconstruction of productive capacity in preference to consumer goods, Norway quickly succeeded in repairing the ravages left by the war. By 1949 the merchant fleet had attained its prewar size, and the figures for both industrial production and housing were greater than in the 1930s. Until the 1980s Norway had full or nearly full employment and a swiftly rising standard of living.

12th Armored Division Campaigns during World War II

Some five months after the D-Day invasion of western Europe by Allied forces, the 12th Armored Division entered France through the port of Le Havre and quickly made its way eastward toward Alsace by early December. In March 1945, the "Hellcats" advanced into the Rhineland and captured the city of Ludwigshafen on March 21. Deploying southward, the unit took the city of Würzburg early the next month. By the end of April, the 12th had advanced well into Bavaria and had reached the Danube River. The division ended the war in Austria.

Watch the video: WW2 l Danish Soldiers cant stop the German invasion of Denmark (June 2022).