Reflections on the 70th Anniversary of the Danish Rescue of the Jews

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In this inaugural Ambassador Edward E. and Susie Elson Lecture, Danish historian, journalist, and former diplomat Bo Lidegaard, author of Countrymen (Knopf, 2013), discusses the extraordinary story of how Denmark saved its Jews from the Nazis in World War II.

With his access to diaries, letters, and family accounts, Lidegaard focuses on how, in 1943, the Danish king, his ministers, and Parliament agreed that no one in Denmark would aid the Nazis in rounding up the 7,000 Danish Jews for deportation and certain death. Over the two-week period of September 26 to October 9, 1943, 6,500 out of the 7,000 Jews escaped to Sweden, having been assisted, hidden, and protected by their fellow countrymen.

The Ambassador Edward E. Elson and Susie Elson Lecture series was created by Edward E. Elson (U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, 1993–1998) to recognize outstanding achievement in the fields of the arts, literature, education, or public service by Danes or Danish Americans.

Bo Lidegaard is the editor-in-chief of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken and the author of several books on modern history. He served as a diplomat in the Danish Foreign Service before joining the Office of the Danish Prime Minister as Ambassador and Permanent Undersecretary of State tasked with responsibilities corresponding to those of National Security Advisor. Lidegaard later led the team preparing the 2009 United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen. He is one of the most respected and widely read Danish historians, and his work has focused on U.S.-Danish relations in the twentieth century, as well as on the modern Danish welfare state. Lidegaard lives in Copenhagen.

Video by Alli Haapasalo