Print
Bookmark and Share
A group of volunteers from The Danish School in Lund before their departure to The Danish Brigade in April 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
A group of volunteers from The Danish School in Lund before their departure to The Danish Brigade in April 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Udforsk
Explore
Album with greetings and poetry from the exile in Sweden 1943 – 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Album with greetings and poetry from the exile in Sweden 1943 – 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Mölle, north of Höganäs on the Swedish coast, 2010. Grand Hotel in Mölle, the white building in the middle of the picture, served as a camp for Danish refugees from October 1943. Photograph by Ole Akhøj (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Mölle, north of Höganäs on the Swedish coast, 2010. Grand Hotel in Mölle, the white building in the middle of the picture, served as a camp for Danish refugees from October 1943. Photograph by Ole Akhøj (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Dan Kaznelson in Overkalix in Sweden where he and his family stayed as refugees from 1943 until 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Dan Kaznelson in Overkalix in Sweden where he and his family stayed as refugees from 1943 until 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
First grade at the Danish School in Gothenburg in 1945. The classroom was located at the meeting house of the Gothenburg Jewish Community (The Danish Jewish Museum).
First grade at the Danish School in Gothenburg in 1945. The classroom was located at the meeting house of the Gothenburg Jewish Community (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Hoisting of a flag at a holiday camp for students from the Danish School in Gothenburg, Töllsjö 1944 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Hoisting of a flag at a holiday camp for students from the Danish School in Gothenburg, Töllsjö 1944 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
The White Buses from the Red Cross bringing Danish Jewish refugees from Theresienstadt to Sweden, arrives to Helsingborg in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
The White Buses from the Red Cross bringing Danish Jewish refugees from Theresienstadt to Sweden, arrives to Helsingborg in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
A Swedish foster family with their two foster children: a Danish Jewish refugee child and a Finnish foster child, 1944 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
A Swedish foster family with their two foster children: a Danish Jewish refugee child and a Finnish foster child, 1944 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Danish and Norwegian refugees celebrate the liberation of Norway with a parade on May 8, 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Danish and Norwegian refugees celebrate the liberation of Norway with a parade on May 8, 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Postcard photograph of the restaurant at Helsjöns Sanatorium, from 1943 to 1945 a camp for orthodox Danish Jews (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Postcard photograph of the restaurant at Helsjöns Sanatorium, from 1943 to 1945 a camp for orthodox Danish Jews (The Danish Jewish Museum).
The Scandinavian Jewish Youth Union’s summer camp in 1944 in Sweden (The Danish Jewish Museum).
The Scandinavian Jewish Youth Union’s summer camp in 1944 in Sweden (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Danish and Norwegian refugees are having a party at Standard Hotel in Nörrköping in Sweden on the occasion of the liberation of Denmark in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Danish and Norwegian refugees are having a party at Standard Hotel in Nörrköping in Sweden on the occasion of the liberation of Denmark in 1945 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Handbook for Danish Refugees in Sweden published The Refugee Office of the Royal Danish Legation in Stockholm in 1944 (The Danish Jewish Museum).
Handbook for Danish Refugees in Sweden published The Refugee Office of the Royal Danish Legation in Stockholm in 1944 (The Danish Jewish Museum).

Exile

In the autumn of 1943, a large group of Danes became refugees. The flight of the Danish Jews to Sweden produced the largest flow of Danish refugees in recent history.  Because of anti-semitic persecution, 7,742 persons fled to Sweden. By the end of the war,  a total of  20,000 Danish refugees, Jews and non-Jews, had sought safety in Sweden.


In contrast to the general Holocaust experience, ”exile” has a different meaning for the Danish Jews. For the European Jews who succeeded in escaping from Germany and the occcupied countries, exile in reality meant emigration and settling in a new country. Few felt a need to return.  The situation of the Danish Jews in exile in Sweden, however, was different.  They wanted to go home.  This national experience of ”exile” is yet another exception from the European experience of the Holocaust.

The Danish Jews' identity and feelings of belonging were decisively affected by their experiences during the Second World War. Not only because of the obvious gratitude to Denmark, a gratitude which grew when the mass murder of the European Jews became known, but through a series of integration and assimilation efforts. This happened despite the great costs of assimilation, since Jews in ”mixed marriages” had often paid the highest price when Nazi persecution split the home and family. 

Economic and emotional consequences

Flight and exile in Sweden had great economic and emotional consequences for the Danish Jews. Even though the flight had been short, and Sweden was culturally and linguistically close to Denmark, fleeing and exile produced considerable mental strain.  There was a high level of suicide among the refugees, and the conditions in the Swedish refugee camps make a plausible case that many refugees show signs of Post Traumatisk Stress Syndrom, PTSD.

The dramatic events both united and divided. The divorce rate among the Jewish refugees was higher than in the Danish population as a whole.  As the Jewish refugees gradually found work in Sweden, housing and working conditions did not always allow their children to live together with their parents. Some parents were so affected by the flight that they were unable to care for their children. The refugee children were instead placed in children's homes or with foster families.

The rate of marriages and births rose in general drastically in the wake of the Second World War. There was also a baby boom in the Jewish exile population in Sweden, which in addition exhibited a higher marriage rate than in Denmark as a whole. Research into the family and divorce patterns among Holocaust survivors in general supports this ambiguous picture of the consequences of persecution for families.

Faith and traditions

By far most of the Jewish refugees in Sweden adjusted their traditions to the new conditions in exile.  Many families who had kept kosher before fleeing, celebrated the Jewish holidays and regularly attended the synagoge, never resumed the Jewish rituals to the same extent.

After returning home a rising number resigned from the Jewish Community. The number of mixed marriages was already a statistical fact before the war, a development that continued after return.  Two thirds married non-Jews.  Many families dropped the external, visible rituals and Judaism as a daily practice.  This was a development away from Judaism, but not necessarily away from a feeling of Jewish identity. In many families the events of the war were the beginning of a feeling of Jewish identity and a new consciousness of family and common destiny.

After the Second World War, general secularization affected developments in both Danish-Jewish society and in the Christian population. However, the Danish people as a whole had not been challenged with regard to their religious and national identity. This accelerated development was a particularly Danish-Jewish experience.

Space and spaciousness

- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark

The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...

Openings hours

Summer (June-August):
Tuesday to Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm
Monday closed

Winter (September - May):
Tuesday-Friday: 1 pm - 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12 noon - 5 pm
Monday closed