Forside Articles How I remember World War II
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Skrevet af Jørn Nielsen   
Fredag, 11. december 2015 11:48

(This has been written af the request of an American school which a granddaughter (9) is attending)

I was 3 when the second world war came to Denmark in April 1940, and I was 8 when it ended in May 1945.  From that terrible war which killed about 50 millions - think of that!  In numbers maybe a third of the U.S. population at that time! - but I shall only tell you a little of what I personally remember as a child during those unhappy years.

My Dad had rented a nice house near the Copenhagen Airport, and I can vaguely remember that charming place even though the memories are not too fond.  The winter was very cold, and I remember that my precious toy cart got stuck to the frozen ground so that I couldn´t play with it.  My mother was often sick, so we had a young nurse in the house whom I and my two sisters remember as cruel and unkind.  Or I do at least, for my sisters, one and two years younger than I, hold almost no memories from those days at the beginning of the war.

My grandfather  (my mum´s dad)  who was pretty wealthy (but we were certainly not!) rented a big house abt. 30 miles north of Copenhagen, our capital, and his close loved ones were accommodated there.  He thought it would be too dangerous for us to live so close to the airport. That was in 1941, and the war was raging all over the world, but my country, Denmark, was by and large spared.  Germany, or Nazi-Germany as we called her, wanted to be on friendly terms with us  as their good neighbor since we could supply the warring big country with good food  like dairy products, hogs and probably also all kind of things coming from our good bakeries.

From that time on I do have many memories.

I soon learned to look at the German occupying power as monsters to be feared far beyond of what was justified.  I remember once when my younger sister, Ruth, and I saw two German soldiers at some distance from us carrying for some reason a big stick or balk, we ran into our apartment to be in safety.  At that time we had again moved to the outskirts of Copenhagen where in 1943 I became a school boy at the age of 6.  (In those days we didn´t have "pre-schools" or the like.

We never starved (like they at some places did in my wife´s home country, Norway) but because of the war we had no luxuries, like chocolate, bananas, pineapple, oranges, grapefruit, cocoa, coffee and many other things that were imported, so those were the things we kids just heard about.  But we never went to bed hungry.  At the dinner table I and one of my two sisters would sometimes be disgusted with the simple dishes served, but Ruth (she must have been abt. 5) would say again and again, "We ought to be happy with what we get!  The small Norwegian children don´t get food like that.  To them it would be like Christmas food!"  She often said that, and of course we were immediately silenced and felt ashamed.

But almost everything to the kitchen was rationed, which means that we were only allowed to buy a certain amount of sugar, butter, milk, meat, etc.  Even bread was rationed, so we had a lot of ration cards that were needed for the shopping.  That I vividly remember.  My great grandfather was a Danish "bread king" whose factories fed our nation with a special rye bread, but that didn´t give us any special  family privileges.  His bread was rationed also.

You may have heard about the persecution of the Jews during the second World War (The Germans succeeded in murdering abt. 6 million Jews, most of them in so called gas chambers).  Well, in my country the Jews were not persecuted till October 1943, but the majority of them (abt. 7,000) fled to Sweden thanks to a well organized rescue mission in Denmark.  Only abt. 500 were arrested by the Germans and deported to Germany where many died.  The Nazis invented a new word for "stealing", and much to our shame it became part of our vocabulary even as children.  You could say, "Who has "jewed" (stolen) my pencil?"  Or you could scold at somebody and call him a "Jew" if you felt he had cheated you.  That was awful, don´t you think?  However, when our teachers in school heard that word being used in that bad sense, they got angry and severely rebuked us.

Our school was occupied by the Germans in  March 1945 to be used as a field hospital.  That lasted less than 2 months as the war was rapidly coming to an end in April/May 1945.  I remember what a sad sight it was to see wounded German soldiers at the windowsills.  That´s all we saw from the outside, but I felt sorry for them.

There was much fear in the air.  We feared the Germans, and I also feared my school.  I was afraid of the teachers and the threat of their dreaded canes. And yet I had some joyful moments also.  Our female teacher in religion (she was born German!) told us Bible stories in a way that gripped a child mind.  So on my way home from school (abt. 10-15 minutes walk to our home) I spontaneously  said to a class mate, "I´m so happy today!  I think it´s God who had made me so happy!"  Maybe it was just after a Bible story hour with that teacher.  He looked at me and laughed, "Your are a funny guy!"

At Christmas Eve we had roast goose, which was (and often still is) our national dish for that celebration. Rice pudding was also eaten, and an almond was put in it, so that the one who got it was supposed to have an "almond gift".  This was one of the highlights at Christmas!  Unfortunately we couldn´t buy rice during the war, so it was often bought on the black market at extremely high prices.   We didn´t have that kind of luxury during the war years, so another kind of porridge was made, for we couldn´t possibly do without that "almond gift"!

We had blackout curtains in every house as the Germans banned all kinds of light because of possible air raids from England which very seldom happened though.  But when the war was over on May 5, 1945, those hated paper curtains were on a pretty large scale burned on the streets as a big joy feast.  I was 8 and I remember that day as if it all happened yesterday!

That very year my grandfather and his son (my uncle) had a big open air service in a park near our home.  I think it was meant as a thanksgiving service to remind our people how thankful we should be to God who had spared our country for the horrors around the world.  I remember how proud I was to see my dear grandfather and my uncle preach and sing.  My uncle was a very gifted, popular speaker, and he also led the singing with zither music.

The war was over, but as a topic it is still not over.  It´s more than 70 years ago.  I could tell you much more, but let this be enough for now.  There is still much war going on in this world.  Your president is affected by it every day.  So we have every good reason to listen to the Christmas gospel about the peace from Heaven (Luke 2:14) which starts in our own Christ trusting hearts, doesn´t it?

Amelias grandpa, 12/12.15 - Jørn Nielsen, H.C. Lumbyes Vej 159A, DK 4700 Næstved - Denne emailadresse er beskyttet mod programmer som samler emailadresser. Du skal aktivere javascript for at kunne se adressen.

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