de frie dansk

At the beginning of World War II, the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway declared their neutrality. With memories of the devastation of World War I still fresh in the memories of many Danes, the governments thought that by being neutral their citizens would be spared the horrors of this new crisis.

During the first years of the Occupation, active resistance activities were few in number, undecided about active or passive resistance and consisted mostly of the production of underground newspapers. This lack of active fighting prompted Winston Churchill to refer to Denmark as “Hitler’s Pet Canary”.

In 1941 a group of eight teenage schoolboys from Ålborg Cathedral School in the north of Jutland formed the Churchill Club which performed acts of sabotage against the Germans before they were arrested in May 1942. Even after imprisonment, they managed to escape at night to continue their sabotage activities.sabotage

Danish Communists who had volunteered in the Spanish Civil War formed a group called BOPA (Borgerlige Parisaner, in English the Civil Partisans) and eventually became the premiere sabotage group.

Holger Danske, the other well-known resistance group started out printing and disseminating underground newspapers and eventually split into two groups, the passive resisters, who remained with the press, and the activist who undertook sabotage.  They began with primitive dynamite, but once the British became confident in their dedication, they were supplied with the more advanced and much lighter plastic explosives supplied by SOE.