World War II

Theme

Sleeping with the enemy

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The German occupation in 1940-45 was the most dramatic episode in Denmark in the last hundred years. Compared with the brutality other Nazi occupied countries faced, conditions in Denmark were mild, and the democratic system functioned during most of the Occupation. But the price for the light-handed treatment was submission to Nazi Germany.

On the morning of 9 April 1940, Nazi Germany attacked Denmark. The Danish forces were hopelessly overwhelmed. After fighting that lasted just a few hours and claimed the lives of 16 Danish soldiers, the government capitulated and five years of occupation began.
Denmark, however, was just a stopover on the German march towards its strategic objective: Norway. By 1941, most of Europe was under Hitler's thumb.

"Political independence"
From the start of the Occupation, Denmark was promised "political independence" if the government gave the German military permission to operate freely. The arrangement had the benefit for Demark that the public administration remained in place, and elected officials from parliament on down to parish council were permitted to remain in office. In other occupied countries, the Germans established their own administrations and set up puppet governments. The cost for Denmark was that Danish officials were required to…

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