Holocaust Account Of
A full house packed the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center on April 23, 2014 to hear the heroic story of the Citizen Heroes of Denmark who saved thousands of Jews in Denmark. Traveling to Prescott from New York State, Dr. Leo Goldberger, a retired Professor Emeritus of New York University, was the featured guest speaker. A boy of only 10 when the Nazis invaded and occupied Denmark in the spring of 1940, Dr. Goldberger kept the audience mesmerized as he described his life in Denmark during the Nazi occupation and his eventual escape by sea to Sweden.
Dr. Goldberger vividly remembered the April spring day the sky was filled with Nazi warplanes dropping leaflets informing the Danish citizens of the advancing Germany Army. Later that same day Goldberger recalled hearing the radio broadcast Danish King asking for Danes to remain calm and to not resist the Nazi soldiers. In exchange for civil calm, from 1940 until the fall of 1943, the Nazis allowed the Danish parliament to administer the affairs of Denmark.
But in the late summer of 1943, everything changed in Denmark. The course of the war was turning against the Nazis and the citizens of Denmark increasingly became more defiant of their occupiers. In August the Nazis dismissed the Danish government, imposed martial law, and developed secret plans to deport the Danish Jews to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. However, the Nazi element of surprise was undermined when their plans were leaked to Jewish leaders. Dr. Goldberger described what happened next as ‘simply’ a miracle.
Acting spontaneously, independently, and secretly, everyday Danish citizens hid their Jewish neighbors, colleagues, and friends, until they could be safely ferried by fishermen across the sea to neutral Sweden. The Goldberger family was saved through the actions of a Lutheran minister who directed the Goldbergers to a coastal fisherman who smuggled them to Sweden. Because of similar heroic efforts, almost all of Denmark’s Jews survived the Holocaust. When asked what advice he had for the youth in the audience, Dr. Goldberger said: “You have a choice between good and evil – but it takes more effort to choose the path of good.”