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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Denmark

Jews since 1622 - split Jewry between Orthodox and progressive parts - Jews in Danish culture and politics - Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe - Holocaust period with shipping action to Sweden by Danish resistance, captains and fishermen - "warm" Herzl Israel connection since 1947

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971):
                                Jews in Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1536, map
                                of the Jewish communities in Denmark in
                                the 19th century: Copenhagen, Roskilde,
                                Hillerod, Helsingor, Ringsted, Stagelse,
                                Naestved, Nakskov, Svendborg, Faaborg,
                                Nybord, Odense, Middelfart, Fredericia,
                                Haderslev, Horsens, Aarhus, Randers,
                                Viborg, Aalborg. Old Jewish cemeteries
                                in Denmark: Copenhagen, Slagelse,
                                Nakskov, Faaborg, Assens, Odense,
                                Randers, Viborg, Aalborg. Jewish
                                communities in Schleswig Holstein which
                                was Danish before: Schleswig,
                                Friedrichstadt, Kiel, Rendsburg,
                                Luebeck, Moisling, Glueckstadt, Altona,

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1536, map of the Jewish communities in Denmark in the 19th century: Copenhagen, Roskilde, Hillerod, Helsingor, Ringsted, Stagelse, Naestved, Nakskov, Svendborg, Faaborg, Nybord, Odense, Middelfart, Fredericia, Haderslev, Horsens, Aarhus, Randers, Viborg, Aalborg. Old Jewish cemeteries in Denmark: Copenhagen, Slagelse, Nakskov, Faaborg, Assens, Odense, Randers, Viborg, Aalborg. Jewish communities in Schleswig Holstein which was Danish before: Schleswig, Friedrichstadt, Kiel, Rendsburg, Luebeck, Moisling, Glueckstadt, Altona, Wandsbek.

from: Denmark; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 5

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)

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[Jewish settlement in Denmark since 1622 - Sephardi Jews from Northern Germany - steady development]

DENMARK, kingdom in N.W. Europe. [[Danish: Danmark]]

It was the first of the three Scandinavian countries where Jews were permitted to settle. The first arrivals were invited by King Christian IV, who, on Nov. 22, 1622, at the request of his Jewish mintmaster Albertus *Denis, sent a message to the leaders of the Sephardi communities in Amsterdam and Hamburg inviting Sephardi Jews to settle in the recently established township of Glueckstadt on the eastern border of Elbe in his duchy of Holstein, offering them religious liberty and commercial privileges.

A few accepted the invitation and began trading and manufacturing operations there. Other Sephardi Jews were also active in Denmark in the 17th century as financiers and jewelers to the royal family and members of the Danish nobility. Benjamin *Mussafia, author of the Talmudic dictionary Musaf ha-Arukh, was appointed physician to the royal family in 1646. His son-in-law Gabriel *Milan became governor of the Danish West Indies in 1684.

Members of Sephardi (col. 1536)

families such as Abenzur, Franco, Granada, De Lima, Meldola, De Meza, Moresco, and Texeira de Mattos continued to engage in financial operations in Denmark during the 17th and 18th centuries, but gradually lost their mercantile significance in the state economy and their predominance in the Jewish community.

Jewish communities existed in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, then under Danish rule, from the beginning of the 17th century, in Altona and Ottensen (now part of Altona).

German Jews wishing to settle in the kingdom of Denmark proper had to produce royal authorization before entering the country. This was granted only to applicants in possession of sufficient capital to establish industrial enterprises, to deal in substantial amounts of Danish merchandise, or to build their own houses. Later, German Jews, mainly from Hamburg and Altona, who married Danish Jewesses were also permitted to settle in Denmark. Rabbis, teachers, and other communal functionaries were permitted to practice in Denmark if guaranteed by leaders of the community. There were 1,830 Jews in Denmark in 1782 (1,503 in *Copenhagen).

[Danish citizenship for Jews since 1814 - emancipation by law since 1849 - intermarriages and low birthrate]

The 19th century was a period of cultural, social, and economic progress for Danish Jewry, though there was a spate [[wave]] of anti-Jewish polemics between 1813 and 1819. Jews received Danish citizenship in 1814, and the last restrictive legislation was abolished in 1849 by the Danish constitution.

While at the beginning of the 19th century the majority of Danish Jews were in poor circumstances, by about 1900 they mostly belonged to the middle and upper classes. The Jewish population increased steadily until, in the middle of the 19th century, there were about 4,200 Jews living in Denmark. The number subsequently declined to 3,500 in 1901 owing to intermarriage and a low birth rate.

[Jewish immigration since 1903 by pogroms Eastern Europe]

After the *Kishinev pogrom of 1903 a number of refugees from Eastern Europe entered Denmark, some in transit for the United States via Bremen and Hamburg. About 200 who arrived in 1904-05 obtained permanent residence, and their number subsequently increased to approximately 2,000. After some difficulties in social and cultural adjustment they gradually integrated into the old established Danish-Jewish society. The total Jewish population with the new immigrants numbered 6,000 in 1921 and has remained substantially the same.

[19th century: Jewish personalities in Denmark]

On a footing of equality with their countrymen, the Jews in Denmark have been able to contribute to the development of their country in every sphere, and many have achieved international renown [[reputation]]. They include the meteorologist Heinrich Brandes (1777-1834), the literary critic Georg *Brandes, the botanist Nathanael *Wallich, the physicians and scientists Ludvig Levin *Jacobson, Adolph *Hannover, and Carl Julius *Alomonsen. Joseph *Michaelsen, who served as postmaster-general, is considered the originator of the Universal Postal Union.

Among outstanding politicians and high-ranking state officials were the minister of finance Edvard *Brandes, Herman Trier (1845-1925), a member of parliament and of Copenhagen municipal council, Moritz Levy (1824-92), and Marcus Rubin (1854-1923), directors of the Danish National Bank, and Georg Cohn, who served as state adviser on international law.

In the cultural sphere, contributions have been made by the poets Meir Aaron *Goldschmidt, Henrik *Hertz, Henri *Nathansen, Louis *Levy, and Poul *Levin; the painters and sculptors Ernst Meyer, Joel *Ballin, Albert Gottschalk (1886-1906), and Theodor Philipsen (1840-1920); and the composers Fini Henriques (1867-1940), and Victor Bendix (1851-1926).

Valuable contributions to science and learning in Denmark have been made by the psychologist Edgar Rubin and the physicist Niels *Bohr.

[Cultural activities of the Danish Jews in 18th century: Orthodox and Reform Jewry - the chief rabbis]

Until the end of the 18th century the Jewish community (col. 1537)

remained strictly Orthodox. Influenced by the emancipation movement in Germany, however, a *Reform party was formed in Denmark by Mendel Levin *Nathanson who initiated several changes in the administration and educational system of the Jewish community of Copenhagen. The Danish Reform movement occasioned a schism within the Jewish community which was aggravated when Nathanson tried with the aid of Isaac Noah *Mannheimer, a young Danish Jewish theologian, to introduce a Reform service in Copenhagen.

When Abraham Alexander *Wolff took office as chief rabbi (1829) he succeeded to some extent in reconciling the Orthodox and Reform parties. He was succeeded by David *Simonsen, the first native-born rabbi in Denmark; after ten years of office he retired to devote himself to Jewish studies and worldwide philanthropic activity.

The Mahzike Hadas association was founded in connection with the retirement in 1910 of the strictly Orthodox chief rabbi Tobias Lewenstein. The succeeding chief rabbis were Max Schornstein and Moses Friediger, who was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943 but survived to return to Denmark, where he died in 1947. Hew was succeeded by Marcus *Melchior and in 1969 by his son Bent Melchior (1929-   ).

[Racist Zionism in Denmark: World Zionist Congress headquarters in Copenhagen - training farms]

The Zionist movement was introduced into Denmark in 1902 with the establishment of the Dansk Zionistforening. The World Zionist Congress headquarters moved to and operated from Copenhagen for the duration of the World War I period. Between 1933 and 1945 about 1,700 potential pioneers and members of Youth Aliyah from Central European countries received agricultural training with Danish farmers.

The Danmark Loge of the B'nai B'rith was founded in 1912.

[Jewish Newspapers in Denmark]

Jewish periodicals in the Danish language have appeared in Denmark since 1907, except during the German occupation in World War II. Magazines in Yiddish appeared between 1911 and 1936 [[by the Yiddish speaking Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe]], and a Yiddish daily, the Folktsaytung, appeared during World War I. A literary periodical Tidsskrift for jødisk Historie og Litteratur, sponsored by the Danmark Loge, was published in Copenhagen from 1917 to 1925.

[JU.M. / R.E.]

Holocaust Period. [little Jewish population is not a danger for the Danish people]

For almost three and a half years, from the day of Denmark's occupation on April 9, 1940 to the major crisis in the Danish-German relationship at the end of August 1943, the Danish Jewish community, including about 1,400 refugees from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia and 300 children of *Youth Aliyah, remained more or less unmolested. This unusual phenomenon can be explained by the fact that while the Danes collaborated with the Germans in the so-called policy of negotiation, they simultaneously extended full political, social, juridical, and personal protection to the Jews and to their property. So convincing was the steadfast behavior of the Danish authorities and the population that the Germans did not (col. 1538)

think it profitable to injure the small Danish Jewish population as long as they were interested in the smooth operation of the Danish-German Agreement of April 9, 1940.

[Danish and German efforts to keep the Danish Jews in peace]

[...] Until that time [[until summer 1943]] the civil representatives of the German Reich, Cécil von Renthe-Fink, as well as the Nazi Werner Best, who succeeded him in office, did everything they could in order to avoid a conflict with the Danes over the issue of the Jews. They succeeded in this endeavor in spite of repeated attempts by Nazi authorities in Germany and small groups in Denmark to raise the issue. Martin Luther, Joachim von *Ribbentrop's representative at the *Wannsee Conference in January 1942, stated that action against Jews in the Nordic countries had to be postponed.

Public opinion in Denmark on the "Jewish" question was unanimous and had been expressed by the leader of the United Danish Youth Movement, Professor Hal Koch, just before the conference. Reacting to some incendiary declarations by Nazi newspapers in Denmark, he proclaimed that all suggestions to the effect that Danish Jews should be molested must be categorically rejected because the issue was one of both justice and respect for the Jews and the preservation of Danish freedom and law.

The Jewish community, anxious to cooperate with the Danish authorities, kept its members as inconspicuous as possible and refrained from all illegal activity, including escape. Only a group of ḥalutzim tried to escape illegally with partial success. [...]

[Summer 1943: Danish resistance provoking the break - NS representative Best planning the deportation - organized shipping to Sweden by Danish resistance, captains and fishermen - Swedish service for the Danish resistance groups - almost no robbery of Jewish property]

Mounting Danish resistance during the summer of 1943 eventually destroyed the popular base of this agreement which was eventually abolished by the Germans in Aug. 28, 1943. [...]

In September 1943 martial law was declared in Denmark. Anxious to sustain his position, Best advocated using this opportunity to deport the Jews. His plan was opposed in German circles in Denmark, and several leading German personalities tried to ensure its cancellation. Best, who was mainly interested in the additional police force transferred to Denmark in order to execute the deportation, was not very eager to carry out the order. F.G. Dukwitz, the attaché for shipping affairs, (col. 1539)

maintained good relations with leading Danish Social Democrats and informed them of the impending danger for the Jews. His warning was quickly spread by Danish citizens, organizations, and by the Jews themselves, and overnight a rescue organization sprang up that helped 7,200 Jews and about 700 non-Jewish relatives escape to Sweden in less than three weeks. Danish captains and fishermen carried out this operation.

What began as a spontaneous popular movement was developed into an organized action by the Danish resistance movement. The cost of the transfer amounted to about 12 million Danish crowns, of which the Jews themselves paid approximately 6 1/2 to 7 million. The rest was provided out of private and public Danish contributions.

Out of the action grew a regular flow of illegal traffic between Denmark and Sweden. Danish and Swedish Jews helped to organize it and kept it financially sound. This traffic continued until the end of the war and provided the Danish underground with a constant line of communication with the Allies.

During the night of the persecution (Oct. 1-2, 1943) and following it, less than 500 Jews were seized by the Germans. They were sent to *Theresienstadt and remained there until the spring of 1945, when they too were brought to Sweden by the action of the Swedish Red Cross, headed by Count *Bernadotte. Upon their return from Sweden to Denmark at the end of the war, most of the Jews found their property intact. It may be estimated that approximately 120 people perished because of the persecution: about 50 in Theresienstadt and a few more in other camps. Close to the same number committed suicide or were drowned on their way to Sweden. Less than 2% of the Jewish population of Denmark perished.


Contemporary Period. [Friendly relationship between Jews and non-Jews]

The Jewish population of Denmark at the end of 1968 was about the same as before World War II, i.e., between 6,000 and 7,000: 25% of the total population were descendants of the old established Danish Jews and 67% were emigrants from Eastern Europe (col. 1540)

and their descendants: 8% consisted of refugees from Germany and their children. Only 1% of the Jewish population resided outside Copenhagen. In the course of 1969 a further 1,500 Jewish refugees from Poland were taken into Denmark, mostly into the Copenhagen area. Almost all the Jews who were rescued during the war, as well as most of the deportees to *Theresienstadt and other camps, returned to Denmark at the end of the war.

The birth rate continues to be low (only about 60 children born each year) and this is insufficient to keep the Jewish population at its present level. The fine relationship between Jews and non-Jews has been maintained in the postwar period. Mutual goodwill has been demonstrated on occasions, such as the tenth and the 25th anniversaries of the rescue of Danish Jewry from Nazi persecution, or, in 1964, on the 150th anniversary of the granting of citizenship to Danish Jews, as well as by the sympathetic interest of the population in Jewish problems and in the State of [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel.

[1945-1971: Jewish personalities in Denmark - Jewish cultural life]

Many Jews have also been prominent in the postwar period. Stephan *Hurwitz was appointed Ombudsman in 1955, when this high position in the administration was established; Henry *Grünbaum was minister of finance in the labor government from 1965 to 1968; and Erik *Warburg was principal of the Copenhagen University from 1956 to 1958.

The Jewish community is state-recognized and is therefore entitled to assess all Jews in the country for taxation, unless they resign formally from the community. This recognition also involves the rights of the rabbis to perform marriages and to register births and deaths.

All community institutions are administered in a strictly traditional way. Most of the members of the Orthodox Mahzike Hadas community belong simultaneously to the larger Jewish community. Community affairs are directed by a board of seven members, elected by an assembly of 20, which in turn is chosen in general elections. In addition to all religious services the community maintains a Jewish day school and three kindergartens, homes for the aged and a spacious community center. The community supports an active [[racist Herzl]] Zionist Federation, *WIZO, youth organizations, *B'nai B'rith, and organization of craftsmen, and two choirs.

Danish Jewry has been participating in all efforts to aid the State of [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel and has strengthened its ties with other Jewish communities through close cooperation with the *Conference on Jewish Material Claims, the *American Joint Distribution Committee, and Jewish communities in Europe.


Relations with [racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA] Israel.

The relations between Denmark and [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel have been friendly and warm. Denmark was among the countries that voted for the partition of Palestine [[against all Arabs]], and thus the establishment of a Jewish state, on Nov. 29, 1947, and recognized Israel soon after its establishment [[without declaration of borderlines and with the Zionist aim to have the rivers Nile and Euphrates as borderlines according to 1st Mose chapter 15 phrase 18]].

formal diplomatic relations were established on the ambassadorial level. Denmark has usually supported Israel at the United Nations and other international organizations [[against all Arabs and against "Soviet Union"]]. Of special note was its active support for Israel's right to free passage through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Eilat, expressed in the attempt of the Danish boat Inge Toft to transport Israel cargo through the Suez Canal in 1959.

Trade relations developed from a modest scope and reached to over $9,500,000 in 1968, with a balance between imports and exports [[to compensate the Arab and "Soviet" boycott movement against racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA Israel]].

Tourism from Denmark to Israel grew substantially in the 1960s. The two countries maintain active friendship leagues, which concern themselves with disseminating information, caring for tourists, exchange visits of public figures, scientists, artists, etc. In most of the cities of [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel, streets or squares are named in honor of Denmark. In Jerusalem a monument to the rescue of Danish Jewry was erected on the 25th (col. 1541)

anniversary of the operation, and a comprehensive school in that city is named in Denmark's honor, and there is a King Christian X hospital at Eitanim. From the beginning of the 1960s, many thousands of Danish youth went to [[racist Zionist Free Mason Herzl CIA]] Israel every year for visits extending to a number of months, mostly working on Kibbutzim. This movement led to the creation of a Danish organization of youth who worked on kibbutzim.

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-- A.D. Cohen: De Mosaiske Troesbekjenderes Stilling i Danmark ... (1837)
-- M. L. Nathanson: Historisk Fremstilling af Jødernes Forhold og Stilling i Danmark (1860)
-- J. Salomon and J. Fischer: Mindeskrift i Anledning af Hundredaarsdagen for Anordningen af 29. Marts 1814 (1914)
-- B. Balslev: De Danske Jøders Historie (1932)
-- Moritzen, in: Contemporary Jewish Record, 3 (1940), 274-80
-- M. Hartvig: Jøderne i Danmark i tiden 1600-1800 (1951)
-- G. Hartmann and f. Schulsinger: Physical and Mental Stress... Within the Jewish Population of Denmark (1952)
-- J. Margolinsky: Gravspladseree på mosaisk vestre kirkegaard 1886-1955 (1955)
-- idem: Gravspladserne på mosaisk nordre kirkegaard i Møllegade 1693-1953 (1956)
-- idem: De jødiske kirkegaard i danske provinsbyer 1722-1956 (1957)

-- L. Yahil: The Rescue of Danish Jewry (1969)
-- idem, in: WLB (Oct. 1962), 73 (bibliography)
-- Wilhelm, in: YLBI, 3 (1958), 313-32
-- Yad Vashem Studies, 6 (1967), 181-220
-- B. Outze (ed.): Denmark during the German Occupation (1946)
-- Valentin, in: YIVO Bleter, 8 (1953), 224-51
-- J. Haestrup: From Occupied to Ally: Denmark's Fight for Freedom (1963)
-- Exposé, European Resistance Movement 1939-1945 (1960-64)
-- A. Bertelsen: October '43 (Eng. 1956)
-- Tid landets beste, 1 (1966)
-- W. Lord: A Night to Remember (1967), novel
-- E. Arnold: A Night of Watching (1967), novel
-- R. Oppenheim: The Door of Death (1948), novel
-- H. Flender: Rescue in Denmark (1963)

-- A. Tartakower: Shivtei Yisrael, 2 (1966), 254-8
-- M. Melchior: A Rabbi Remembers (1968)> (col. 1542)

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1536
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1536
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1537-1538
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1537-1538
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1539-1540
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1539-1540
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in
                          Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1541-1542
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Jews in Denmark, vol. 5, col. 1541-1542

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