A Miracle Tip-Off Saves Jewish Grandparents

The Fellowship  |  December 22, 2020

Jews escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark to Sweden
Jews escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark to Sweden

Most of Denmark’s Jews – unlike the rest of European Jewry – escaped the Holocaust, something often called a miracle. This miracle, it seems, came about when the Danish Nazi occupiers deliberately sabotaged the operation to kill their Jewish neighbors. Writing at the BBC, the grandson of Danish Jews tells how his grandparents escaped being rounded up and murdered by the Nazi regime:

It was a cold October night 75 years ago when my grandparents, Fanny and Raphael Bodin, stood on the dock of a harbour on the east coast of Denmark with their 15-month-old daughter, Lis, in their arms.

I imagine they peered into the darkness, nervously awaiting the fisherman who would take them across the water to the safety of neutral Sweden. Until that point the Jews of Denmark – unlike those in other parts of occupied Europe – had been free to go about their business. But now the order had been given to transport them to Germany “for processing”.

So my grandparents and aunt fled. As they boarded the fishing boat they handed the fisherman a substantial sum of money for the hour-long boat trip across the Oresund – the narrow stretch of water between Denmark and Sweden. Then it started to rain and my aunt began to cry. The fisherman, fearing the Germans would hear her cries, ordered my grandparents either to leave their child on the dock or get off the boat. They chose the latter and watched as the boat cast off for Sweden with their money and perhaps their last chance of escape.

Fortunately, it wasn’t their last chance. They succeeded in making the crossing the very next night – after giving their daughter a sleeping pill to ensure she remained silent – and lived out the rest of the war in Sweden.

Their story mirrors that of the vast majority of Danish Jews…

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