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Simpson Street Free Press

How the Danish Resistance Fought Nazi Occupation with 'Illegal' Newspapers

On April 9, 1940, Germany officially invaded and occupied Denmark, a small country in northern Europe that could not hold its own for very long. Most Danes opposed the occupation, so the Danish resistance was formed.

The Danish resistance comprised mostly young people who believed in Denmark's freedom. To update civilians on the resistance's latest news, multiple "illegal" newspapers were formed. One of the most well-known was De Frie-Danske, which translates to the Free Danes. These newspapers kept people up to date on what was going on, such as bombing Nazi supply trains and what was taking place in the war outside of Denmark. Since newspapers were deemed illegal, people often burned them after reading them. Danes kept a lot of other secrets, too. One way they accomplished this was through the use of code.

This was necessary because if the wrong people at the wrong time were to overhear them, there would be consequences. One example comes from a scene in the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, set during the Danish resistance. It has a character on the phone who uses cover words such as "going fishing" and "bringing cartons of cigarettes" to hide what they were actually doing, helping a Jewish character escape to Sweden by boat.

Before the relocation of Jewish people, Denmark's resistance had been using Sweden as a sort of base of operations. When Germany tried to relocate Danish Jews, the resistance took to hiding them. Many families started by hiding their Jewish neighbors in their houses, but most smuggled them away to Sweden by boat, where they would be helped and survive there until it was safe. In Denmark, the Jewish neighbors often cleaned and maintained their houses until they returned.

Throughout World War II, Denmark's resistance rebelled against the Nazis and encouraged its citizens to keep hope. Even now, we can look at their great bravery and humanitarian actions and be inspired.

[Sources: Great Works Theatre Company; Holocaust Historical Society]

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