WASHINGTON (Mar. 22)
In a year commemorating the 50th anniversary of many grim events relating to the Nazi Holocaust, Jews gathered here last week to celebrate one bright spot of 1943: the rescue of the Jews of Denmark.
The Danish people, unlike so many others in Europe, protected their Jewish citizens from Nazi death camps, hiding Jews in Danish homes and smuggling most of the Jewish community to the nearby neutral country of Sweden.
Among the speakers at the commemoration, held at a synagogue in Washington, was Attorney General Janet Reno, who is of Danish ancestry.
Reno called the event “a symbol that each of us has to rededicate ourselves to stand up against evil.”
U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Richard Stone read a letter from President Clinton, who cited the Danish “example of courageous kindness.”
About 1,500 people attended the commemoration, which was organized by Washington Hebrew Congregation and a group called Thanks to Scandinavia, whose purpose is to make people aware of the Danish rescue.
Peter Dyvig, the Danish ambassador to the United States, called the events of 1943 “the first large-scale human rights action in the history of man.”
And Henrik Liljegren, the Swedish ambassador to the Washington, noted that in his country, “heroic acts were performed more by individuals than by the authorities.”
The event, lasting over two and a half hours, included performances by a Danish Jewish pianist, and a Danish actress whose father was a resistance fighter in World War II.