Wednesday, May 04, 2005

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Denmark was liberated (from German occupation...) sixty years ago today.
The German forces in Noth-Western Germany, Holland, Norway and Denmark had surrendered to the British Field Marshall Montgomery and after five years of occupation Denmark was free again.

The photo shows my grandfather Haubert Nielsen who was with the resistance. He didn't blow up any trains or shoot any Germans, but like many other resistance groups his squad were to wait for the German surrender and then secure law and order, arrest Danish collaborators and await the arrival of Allied forces.
As members of the Social-Democratic Party they were also instructed to prevent members of the Communist resistance from taking control of Denmark when the German forces left.

In the evening of May 4'th his squad arrested a Danish HIPO-man and took him with them for interrogation. HIPO was short for HIlfs POlizei and was an auxiliary police force of Danes who served under the Germans and were notorious for their extreme brutality.

While they were driving in their car the HIPO-man grabbed the steering wheel and the car crashed into a tree. My grandfather managed to shoot and kill the HIPO-man just before the crash, but he always claimed the gun went off by accident.

My grandfather was knocked unconscious by the crash and the photo was taken for the Social Democratic Newspaper the day after when he woke up in a hospital.

The hospital was operated by nuns and when my grandfather woke up and found himself in a white room surrounded by nuns, he thought he had died and gone to heaven.

The young man besides the bed owed his life to my grandfather. Like many members of the resistance he wanted to ride on the outside of the car, standing on the broad fenders which looked very cool and "ready-for-action" like. My grandfather, who was the squad leader, had ordered him to stay inside with the others, this of course saved the man from dying in the car crash.

Some 3-400 people were killed in Denmark during the first weeks after the liberation, mainly collaborators like the HIPO-men and SS-volunteers, but sometimes also black-marketeers and other people who had made themselves unpopular with members of the now very well-armed resistance.

My grandfather never really talked about the war, this story was told to me by my father (his son-in-law) The gun he carried during the war for protection (a Belgian FN) hung in his study together with some photos and the resistance-fighter's armband he's also wearing in the photo.
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