I’m not sure where I was in high school and university, but as I was getting straight A’s, somehow I missed a lot of interesting and important information. Realizing that I need to expand my knowledge and achieve some enlightenment on past and present events, podcasts are my newest sidekick.  I’ve shared my plight with a high school history teacher friend.  He says my condition (i.e. Who is on Mt. Rushmore?), is reversible.

Yesterday, I went on a couple of walking tours with Sandemans New Europe Tours, which operate free walking tours in various cities throughout Europe.  I’ve found that when I travel, the first day in a new city, I like to find the free walking tours and make that the first activity of choice, as it gets me oriented to the layout of the city, while bringing meaning, turning a landmark or building into more than just a, “that’s cool.”

Here, Garreth, one of the Copenhagen guides is dynamically explaining the story behind some fountain.

It was just dynamic.

Contrary to popular belief Disneyland is not the happiest places on earth.  Denmark is, and more appropriately claims the title, as Danes will go out of their way to help people, and as a culture, they take care of one another.

See how happy Denmark makes me?!? Sorry Disney…

The rescue of the Danish Jews, which I learned about yesterday, is a prime example of

a) What I missed in history class


b) The Danes taking care of their own.

On April 9, 1940 Denmark was occupied by Germany, but the Nazi’s allowed King Christian X to retain his throne in exchange for Denmark’s loyal cooperation.  During the early years of occupation, the Danish government insisted that there was no “Jewish problem” in Denmark, and Germany, not wanting to disrupt a “model” relationship with the Scandinavian country, initially accepted this.  By 1943, this “model” relationship had changed, and Germany began planning the deportation of the about 8,000 Danish Jews to concentration camps.  On October 1, 1943, Hitler ordered that the Danish Jews be arrested and deported.

Despite extreme personal risk, many ordinary Danish citizens assisted in the evacuation efforts of their endangered countrymen and women, by notifying Jews through the phonebook, sharing their boats in the evacuation process, or offering hiding in their homes.

This rescue effort allowed the vast majority of Denmark’s Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis, as around only 450 Danish Jews were taken by the Germans, this, so different from the typical story of death from the Holocaust.  The rescue of the Danish Jews is considered to be one of the largest actions of collective resistance in the countries occupied by Nazi Germany.

And the result of the rescue?  Over 99% of Denmark’s Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

This was only a brief summary of what happened in this era of history.  I would recommend that you take time to read about it more in depth, or I encourage you to personally take the time, and the money, to travel to the places in the world that store a rich, a sometimes sad, but a sometimes gloriously heartwarming history that remind us of the power of an organized group of people, working towards a common goal, instilling in us the belief that we have the ability to save, protect, and help.

What if where you live was known as the happiest place on earth?  What if you chose to bring positivity and hope to those around you, helping others, not because you have to, not because you feel obligated, but because you believe you were born with a purpose that is deeper than the clothes you wear, the size of your bank account, or the car you drive.

You are influential.  You have power, resources, and abilities to impact humanity.  Those resources, and power, and abilities can be as simple as a smile, a hello, or a sincere, “How are you today?”

I know that I never learned that in history class.

These children have the right idea:)

  • Hilary

    Thanks for that. You don’t really hear about the Danes that much. But I think they are a terrific people too! They are very nice to tourists. I don’t know if you found this, but I found that when they speak English they sound more American than any other European speaking English.

    May 25th, 2012 4:39
    • Kara

      And everyone speaks English, and it’s not like they are upset that the tourists can’t speak any Danish. Their English is very good. And everyone was so nice. Denmark is a great place. Loved the bikes and loved the hipster fashion.

      May 26th, 2012 12:27

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *