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Plain and Simple for Jan. 5, 2017

SoVaNow.com / January 04, 2017
Most of us know and believe the story of the Holocaust in Europe during the period of World War II. More than six million Jews and other so-called undesirables were murdered. One story that is not as well-known is what happened in Denmark.

The Germans occupied Denmark, which was Christian country. Approximately 7,500 Jews remained in Denmark when Germany took over.

In 1943, the Germans gave the order to begin rounding up the Jews for deportation to the concentration camps and almost certain death. In other countries, there was some resistance and Christians hid some Jews. That is not what happened in Denmark.

The Danes decided that such a persecution was a violation of their way of life. King Christian X encouraged resistance to the order. The result was that over 7,000 Jews were hidden by Danes from all walks of life and then transported to the neutral country of Sweden.

Only 481 Jews went to a work camp in Germany. The Danes did not forget them. They sent over 7,000 packages of food and clothing to the prisoners. Almost all the Jews in the work camp survived the war. When the Jews made their way home, they discovered another difference.

In other countries, the homes of Jews had been looted and taken over. Most of the Danish Jews found their homes undisturbed.

The Danish resistance, at great risk to the Danish citizens, is one of the great stories of World War II.

I sometimes wonder how I would have reacted during the persecutions of World War II. Would I have acquiesced? Would I have taken part in the deportation process and looted Jewish homes? Or would I have been brave enough to hide the Jews and help them escape?

I did grow up in a time when Americans denied African-Americans basic human rights. I was not a hero, but I was just starting high school when the worst of it began. I am ashamed to say that some of the prejudices of the time influenced my thinking. Still, I was lucky enough to have a father and mother who demanded that we treat all people with respect.

I wonder if we are not faced with similar issues today.

Do we really want to label all Muslims as dangerous? Do we want to deport immigrants who have been in America for years? Do we want to be suspicious of those who are different? I want to stand with the Danes and say that persecution of anyone for any reason is unacceptable.



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