Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects.
The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.
~ Elie Wiesel KBE - Romanian-born Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Laureate (1986)
Much has been written about Occupied Europe in WWII and the harrowing pain and suffering endured by the countless victims of that so-called Great Humanitarian - Man.
I have no first-hand knowledge of the experience - being born at WWII's end - but I have been told many tales of an ordinary Danish family and how dramatically their lives changed, when their tiny country of Denmark was occupied overnight by German troops in 1940.
I have chosen the anniversary of the capitulation of the German troops to the Allies - on 5th May, 1945 - to begin the release of this chronicle of one small family's wartime experiences. After those sad years of deprivation and fear, the people all over Occupied Europe were free. The joy was unimaginable - as was the relief to be survivors - against all odds.
This is my proud tribute to two of the finest 'ordinary' heroes I've known - my parents-in-law, Wanda and Harry Larsen. How blessed to have such as these two amongst our role models. I am thankful to have the skill to be able put together just a few of the wonderful tales of this testing period of their lives.
Copyright note: This is a Wattpad book by Christine Larsen, fully protected by All Rights Reserved copyright. If you are reading this elsewhere, it has been taken without my permission and I/Wattpad can take legal action. The only exception is here on Tablo Publishing where I have chosen to also share my story.
© 2017 Christine Larsen
Bizarre - the strange beauty waiting to be found in the shadows of yesterday.
Unexpected shades of light and dark eternally highlight the best and worst of mankind.
- Christine Larsen 2017
Fathers throughout history have prayed for sons who’d be strong enough to understand and accept their weaknesses and find strength to face their fears; to hold heads high in defeat, and be fair and forgiving in victory.
Danish fathers in the Occupation of Denmark were no exception. They could only hope their own acts of defiance would inspire their sons’ courage, as guttural announcements with bald statements naming the latest countries to fall victim to Hitler’s war machine filled their ears.
On the quarter hour the regular broadcast was hijacked, and the streets filled with the painful messages from the loudspeakers unexpectedly installed on most street corners. The listeners couldn’t believe their ears. Surrendered? Simply surrendered? Must be someone's idea of a joke… surely? Some 'tut-tut-ed’ in the belief they understood and empathised. Many shook their heads in disbelief, while older, more world-wise faces wore sad acceptance. Their tightened mouths and eyes showed they already possessed a knowledge; an understanding what 'Occupation by the Enemy' could mean.
In a miserable six hours the unthinkable happened - WWII’s briefest campaign found the proud little country, Denmark, under Hitler's iron fist. With a population of less than four million, the Occupation rolled through their birthright in a night, with a concerted takeover by land, sea and air. Bravely accepting their fighting limitations, Danish leaders trusted the German vows to occupy and rule with the lightest hands and the least disruption to normal life IF they received full co-operation in return.
Norway’s major iron ore deposits and well-equipped shipping ports, tucked safely in the endless fjords tucked amongst their beautiful mountains plunging deep into the sea, were always the glittering prize, to be achieved at minimal cost. Denmark was simply in the way. With its border along northern Germany, it quickly became the obvious choice to control the small and scattered Danish defence units and forge ahead to the Norwegian goal. The bonus would be replenishing supplies from the productive local farmers along the way. In a mere six hours, Denmark knelt under Hitler's rule - or so he believed. The country? Yes. The Danish people’s hearts and souls? Never!
As the war machine rolled into town, the Danes lined the streets - at first timidly after the thunderous night of numerous war planes flying long and low above their cities and homes. There’d been no bombing, so the tremulous hope began in the hearts of the people; maybe they would be well cared for; maybe their co-operation would buy precious time.The Germans said… well, many things, actually.
A reluctant awe was born and grew, along with fear of the uniforms and metal helmets and the military discipline filling the once peaceful thoroughfares. An amazing array of weaponry followed those heavily armed soldiers marching stoically and threateningly to their own beat; closely followed by army tanks looming high over the bystanders, rumbling threateningly along on their great mechanical treads through streets long accustomed to bicycle wheels and feet.
Other crowds filled with the identical awe and fear were repeated at the docks as the warships and submarines emerged, complete with their uniformed and strictly disciplined crews… and at the airports, where spectators first viewed the fighter planes designed to strike terror into hearts and souls, and countless other planes with foot soldiers in unimaginable numbers pouring from the great maw of the troop carriers.
At first it was awesome beyond belief. Hope burgeoned that promises of peace within the ‘Occupation’ constraints would be true. But history repeats itself - with truth eternally the first victim of war - and this small country’s Occupation by the enemy was no exception. As reality emerged, the people began to revolt. Their ways and means were amazing and I am proud to be able to record (second-hand), the few precious memories my parents-in-law shared, along with whatever I’ve been able to research.