Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Danish Resistance Museum...

While in Copenhagen, I visited the Danish Resistance Museum. Denmark had an interesting path under the Nazi Germans.

First, it wasn't officially an enemy country. Unlike Poland or the Netherlands, it wasn't invaded and conquered. The Germans rolled in and the small Danish army and more significant navy couldn't do much- though there was some fighting. The Germans announced that they had no desire to conquer Denmark, just to pass through on their way to Norway.

So the deal was that Denmark remained sovereign and neutral in the war. The Germans just occupied the country and enforced their idea of neutrality.

That pretty much worked for a while. Up until Stalingrad, the Germans looked like winners and in any case what could the Danes do? They were an agricultural country, the Germans bought everything available, and did nothing that interfered with ordinary Danes.

Eventually things changed. The Germans demanded more, the Danes got stroppy, and the occupation took hold.

The most famous bit of Danish resistance had to do with Jewish Danes. Everyone knows the untrue but lovely story of King Christian and the yellow star, and that the Danes deported their Jews to Sweden instead of letting the Germans have them. Brave, and the Danes had specific forewarning, few Jews, local administration in place, and a permeable neutral border.

Eventually the resistance became significant. But Copenhagen- unlike Lyon, or Karbala today- never became a place where an occupation soldier was unable to walk around alone in reasonable safety.

The Museum is small, but does a good job of covering all aspects of this history. It doesn't shy away from the accommodation era, or the divisions within Denmark during the occupation. The one thing that seems entirely absent is anything about the King's role during the war.

A couple of things struck my gun nut/second amendment sides.

If you are going to resist, and be in a position where you have to shoot your way out of a raid, reliability matters!

That malfunction led to the capture of the pistol's user.

The museum has an exhibition of home made weapons- here's a Sten gun:

Gun banners take note.

Even an improvised torpedo!

And, as usual in museums these days,

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