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Denmark and the Holocaust - October 1943 - History seminar


11. October 2023

History seminar

The stories about October 1943 are many. They are about flight and exile, about arrest, deportation and captivity. And about survival. In this seminar, we examine October '43 via various historical events and come up with concrete suggestions for how the topics can be integrated into teaching.

The seminar is aimed at history teachers in youth education. Participation is free and includes lunch. Registration is required.

In October 1943, the German occupying power began the persecution of the Danish Jews, who in their thousands had to flee their homes and try to reach Sweden. About 500 of them did not make it to safety and were arrested and deported to Theresienstadt. The stories about October 1943 are many. They are both about escape and exile, but also about arrest, deportation and captivity. And not least they are about survival, which makes Denmark and the Holocaust an exception. Because in most other European countries the Holocaust meant the annihilation of entire Jewish communities, but in Denmark 99% of the Jews survived.

In this seminar, we examine this exception via various historical accounts:

What did the cooperation policy mean for the conditions of the Jews in Denmark? How and why was the Jewish community warned before the Jew action? Why did Sweden offer asylum to the Danish Jews? What made the Danish population willing to help fellow Jews? What was the exile in Sweden like? What happened to those deported to Theresienstadt? What conditions did they live under - and how did they survive? And what happened when the war was over? What did the Danish Jews have to return home to and what reception did they get? What traces does history draw today?

The seminar is organized by Humanity in Action Denmark in collaboration with DIIS and UCL Business Academy and Professionshøjskole under the auspices of the project 'Upskilling of teachers in order to promote teaching and remembrance of the Holocaust and other genocides in primary and secondary schools'.

The seminar is held as part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the flight of Danish Jews to Sweden.

The seminar is aimed at history teachers in youth education and also focuses on concrete proposals for how the subjects can be integrated into teaching. 

→ Read more about the event here

Program for the day
  • At 9.30-10.00: Coffee and tea are served.
  • At 10.00 – 10.15: Welcome and introduction by Anders Jerichow
  • At 10.15-11.00: Compatriots - how the Danish Jews avoided Nazi persecution and deportation in October 1943 v/ Bo Lidegaard
  • At 11.00-11.45: Escape, exile and return - the Danish Jews' experience of the escape, life as a refugee in Sweden and life after the return home in 1945 v/ Sofie Lene Bak
  • At 11.45-12.30: A light lunch is served
  • At 12.30-13.15pm: The Danish Jews in Theresienstadt v/ Silvia Goldbaum Tarabini
  • At 13.15-14.00: October 1943 in the classroom with Solvej Berlau and Stine Thuge. The presentation will present ways of working with the subject, including a teaching course with module plans, teaching activities and exercises aimed at students in youth education.
  • 14.00-14.15: Coffee break
  • At 14.15-15.30: Presentation of new films for educational use:
  • "Stemmer i Stilheden" (Humanity in Action 2023) about the flight of the Melchior family in October 1943 and "The Shepherd's Letter", Casper Høyberg and Ulrik Gutkin's film about Bishop Fuglsang-Damgaard and the Danish bishops' protests against the persecution of the Jews in October 1943.
  • At 15.30-15.45: Wrap-up, last question and thanks for today.
About the presenters

Anders Jerichow: Chairman of the Ministry of Education's reference group, which is to promote education and remembrance of the Holocaust and other genocides, former chairman of Humanity in Action Denmark.

Bo Lidegaard: Dr.Phil., historian, former editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Politiken and author of a large number of books, including "Countrymen. The flight of Danish Jews in October 1943" (2013).

Sophie Lene Bak: Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, the SAXO institute and author of a number of books about Denmark and the Holocaust, including "Ikke nothing at talk om" (2010) and "When the war was over. The return of the Danish Jews after the occupation" (2012).

Silvia Goldbaum Tarabini: Ph.D., author of a number of articles about the Danish prisoners' stay in the Theresienstadt ghetto as well as the books "The Jews of Denmark in the Holocaust: Life and Death in Theresienstadt Ghetto" (2021) and "Life and Death of Danish Jews in Theresienstadt" (to be published September 2023).

Solvej Berlau: High school teacher at Slagelse High School. 

Stine Thuge: National program manager in Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke.

Stine Thuge and Solvej Berlau have worked for more than 10 years teaching about genocide at DIIS. Together they are the authors of a new educational book "The road to genocide. Before, during and after the Holocaust" (2023).

Date: 11 October 2023 at 9.30-15.30

Location: DIIS - Danish Institute for International Studies, Gl. Kalkbrænderivej 51A, 2100 Copenhagen Ø (right next to Nordhavn Train and Metro Station)

Language: Danish

Price: Participation is free and includes lunch. Registration is required → click here

Organizer: The seminar is organized by Humanity in Action Denmark in collaboration with DIIS and UCL Business Academy