A Pastor, a Playwright, and a Martyr
Stand for Israel | August 29, 2022
A Danish playwright and Lutheran pastor, Kaj Munk opposed the Nazi occupation of Denmark, a stance which led to his murder.
Born Kaj Harald Leininger Petersen, the young Danish boy was raised by a family named Munk after his parents died. Ordained as a Lutheran minister, Pastor Munk served as the vicar of Vederso in Western Jutland, Denmark, from 1924 until his death twenty years later. Munk also wrote many plays during the 1920s, plays performed publicly during the 1930s.
When fascism overtook Europe in the 1930s, Munk was disgusted by Hitler and Mussolini, disgust caused from witnessing of the Nazi persecution of Germany’s Jews and Mussolini’s actions toward Ethiopia. In 1938, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a front page editorial that Munk wrote to Mussolini which criticized persecution of the Jewish people.
As the Nazis invaded and occupied Denmark, Munk was also a vocal and active opponent. His plays directly attacked Nazism. Friends urged Munk to go underground, but he continued to preach against Danish collaborations with Hitler and the Nazis.
Around Christmastime of 1943, Munk defied a Nazi ban and preached an Advent sermon at Copenhagen’s national cathedral. Because of this, the Nazis arrested the pastor on January 4, 1944. Munk’s body was found in a ditch the next morning.
Four thousand Danes attended the pastor’s funeral, seen in the photo above, and many influential Scandinavians condemned his murder. Munk’s widow, Lise, continued to live in their parish house until her death decades later in 1998. Today, the church and house have been restored as a memorial to this pastor and playwright who gave his life to defy evil.