Danes mark July 4 — and WWII rescue

REBILD, Denmark, July 5 (JTA) — The July 4 celebration here resembled the thousands held around the United States: civic and political leaders gathered, joined by representatives of the U.S. armed forces — with the American red, white and blue flag waving in the wind.

But this celebration — which also marked the World War II rescue of the Danish Jewish community — didn’t take place in Crabapple Cove, Maine, or Ottumwa, Iowa, but in Denmark.

The celebration is believed to be the largest July 4 commemoration outside of the United States.

This year’s event, which organizers say drew a record crowd of 10,000, also honored the Danish Jewish entertainer, Victor Borge, who died in December at the age of 91.

Since 1912, Danes have celebrated America’s Independence Day here to showcase their strong ties with the United States.

Among the luminaries attending the event were the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Denmark, Richard Swett, and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who survived the Holocaust in Hungary.

“I have had a long-standing love affair with the nation of Denmark and the Danish people,” said Lantos.

In the fall of 1943, Danish citizens helped more than 90 percent of Denmark’s estimated 8,000 Jews escape Nazi deportation by ferrying them to Sweden.

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