COPENHAGEN – World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder took part Thursday in Denmark’s official ceremo ny commemorating 75 years since Danish Jewry were rescued from the Germans and their accessories and sent to safety in Sweden. In his address, Ambassador Lauder thanked Denmark for its “rare courage” during the years of the Holocaust, and for its continued commitment to the security and well-being of the Jewish community in Denmark today.
The ceremony was held in the presence of the Crown Prince of Denmark, Frederik, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
“Today we remember an unusual event during World War II. Not the killing of Jews, but the saving of Jews,” Lauder said in his address, noting: “Sadly, that rarely happened, but it did here in Denmark, and I think the major question is why? It’s what you here in Denmark call ‘Mod’. We call it courage.”
“Between 1939 and 1945, men and women throughout the world had to find courage in the face of unbelievable evil,” Lauder said. “Soldiers had to find it on the battlefield, mothers and wives, who waited at home, faced constant fear every day and night. Whole cities had to summon courage in the face of brutal attacks. But during that entire war, we rarely saw an entire nation demonstrate courage for someone else.”
“We rarely saw that kind of self-sacrifice, yet that is what we saw here in Denmark, and that is what we celebrate today. The courage of a nation. The courage of the Danes,” Lauder said.
“What Denmark did here 75 years ago was incredibly courageous. It was a kind of courage we just didn’t see throughout Europe. This country saved over 7,000 human beings,” Lauder said. “In Judaism, we say when you save one life, you save the world. You here in Denmark saved over 7,000 worlds. And for that, the Jewish people are so grateful, and we will always be grateful.”
Lauder also took the opportunity to acknowledge Denmark’s ongoing commitment to protect its Jewish citizens in the face of extremism and adversity, and for protecting the right of Jews to continue the age-old covenant of Brit Milah: “Once again, Denmark has taken responsibility for protecting its Jewish citizens and again, we thank you.”