As my “wish-list” vacation exploring world cultures with my kids continued, we had the opportunity to dig deeper into the amazing history of Denmark during our stay in Copenhagen. Not only have I learned some valuable lessons, but I have also discovered more about the truly inspiring history of this country.
It all started with some “found” time during our scheduled stop in Copenhagen and a trip to the Rosenborg Castle, home of King Christian IV. While I was pretty quick to jump to certain conclusions based on a few ignorant assumptions about this king, I soon realized not only how wrong I had been, but how it almost cost us the chance to learn and grow!
In the journey I’m taking with my two younger sons and daughter, Arika, to really dig into the history of the Northern European countries we’re visiting this summer, I always look for the chance to find any connections to the Jewish people. In case you may not know, I absolutely love people of Jewish heritage and have shown my support for over two decades.
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Their well-documented struggles throughout history have been so heroic and so tragic, I find myself drawn to their story. So, during our visit in Copenhagen, we discovered an amazing connection between the Jews and Denmark that had been completely unknown to me. It all started around 500 years ago, with King Christian IV and is such a deep and fascinating story. I started the story in yesterday’s edition of The Daily Fix, so if you missed Part 1, be sure to go back and read it now!
After King Christian IV opened the doors of Denmark to exiled Jews, it began a blessed and prosperous relationship in this country that lasted hundreds of years. And while the Jewish population grew, it still remained a small, but well-integrated and loved minority within this mostly Christian country.
Then came the outbreak of WWII, under the rule of King Christian X, a direct descendant of King Christian IV. In the 1940s, King Christian X faced the spread of Nazism from neighboring Germany. And while Germany mostly left Denmark to continue running their country as before, until 1943 when the Nazis stepped up their influence in both the country and in dealing with the “Jewish problem,” which was code for the spread of their brutal extermination plan.
Compared to the rest of Europe, the Jewish population in Denmark was relatively small, with only about 7,000 in the entire country. Under pressure to turn in all the Jews in his country, King Christian X took a firm stand against Germany, basically telling them this was not happening on his watch!
This whole idea is just incredible to me! Mind you, Denmark was probably the most protected nation during World War II. And still, they refused to allow this horror to happen! And it was not only the king, but all the people of Denmark actually joined together to rescue the Jews. The stories of all the wild things they did are just astounding.
They risked their own lives to protect their Jewish friends and neighbors. They organized major operations to smuggle Jews over to Sweden, which was a neutral country, to make sure they were safe. Using everything from tiny rowboat-sized vessels all the way up to commercial shipping containers were used in this effort. We’re talking Danish fishermen putting their own lives in jeopardy to sneak boatloads of Jews across stormy North Sea waters – at night, no less – to get them to Sweden and out of the Nazis’ reach!
Unfortunately, 481 Jews were captured by the Germans and sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in occupied-Czechoslovakia. Outraged by the deportation and imprisonment of his citizens, King Christian X vowed to take action. His vocal support and international position resulted in protection for these 481 Jews during the remainder of the war.
And guess what? The love and protection the Danish people extended to this tiny 7,000 Jewish minority didn’t stop there. The Jews were in Sweden for the last two years of the war, and when it was finally safe to return home in 1945, they found their homes intact!
Their neighbors actually paid their rent, protected their belongings and even preserved their literature and sacred writings. The Royal Library of Denmark provided a safe harbor for over 40,000 books and texts collected by a leading rabbi in the country. So, when they came back home, the Jews found their lives, their history and their traditions waiting to be picked up right where they had left off. Wow!!
King Christian X and the other people of Denmark literally did everything they could to protect the Jews. And when the horror was over, they opened their doors and hearts again, saying “Come home!” Imagine a king and a people willing to stand up – and I mean REALLY stand up – for a very small minority and for what they knew was right. All I can say is this: It is truly amazing when you have leadership that does something like this.
They made the brave choice, the honorable choice, the noble choice, the praiseworthy choice. They were willing to stand up when others would not.
Look, there were other nations that shut their doors against the Jews in World War II and they reaped what they had sown. During the war, their own people did not protect the Jews and because of it their own people died. I believe it was because they did not protect God’s chosen people, the children of Israel, the line of Abraham, those beautiful Jewish people. If we remember God’s promise, not only will those who bless the Jews be blessed, but also whoever curses them would be cursed and whoever brings trouble on them would be troubled. You clearly reap what you sow!
It humbled me to hear the story of both King Christian IV and his descendant, King Christian X. It made me want to be the kind of person who would not only open the doors to a persecuted people, but who would do what those neighbors did — protect their belongings and their homes, pay their rent, save such important literature and love them, even though a huge superpower hated them!
Now, I don’t know what your political views and spiritual beliefs are, but if you are someone who believes in the Bible, as I do, you have to take a moment to think about the fact that they opened their doors and provided a safe haven for YOUR people. According to the scriptures, we are all descended from the Jews. Now, I’m not trying to turn this into some kind of religious debate, I just hope you read this edition of The Daily Fix from an objective place of maturity and humanity.
This is not about, “Oh, Dani has told us her beliefs and I don’t agree, so I cannot listen to her anymore.” This is about me sharing the glorious blessing I got from their acts of courage, of love, of justice, of humanity and of being willing to risk everything to stand up for what they believed was right. I invite you today, to share this inspiration with your friends, family, coworkers and on your social media. In that sharing, challenge yourself to think about what would you do in that situation and what you believe in strongly enough to make that kind of stand.
And, I ask you to stand — or at least sit down — with me this Sunday evening as I come to you LIVE on TV and radio. Can’t wait to connect with you then!
In great faith,
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