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Evading in Denmark


German forces occupied Denmark on 9 April 1940, crossing the Danish border by land and air without warning.  The Danish government acquiesced to a formal Note from the German Ambassador guaranteeing continued Danish sovereignty, neutrality, and territorial integrity in lieu of recognition of the German occupation and a cessation of all forms of resistance.  As the years passed, more and more of the Danish population ignored the terms of the capitulation agreement and turned to passive resistance (such as wearing knitted caps depicting the RAF roundel) and active resistance (such as industrial sabotage).

In August 1943, when the elected Danish government ceased cooperating with the German occupiers and resigned, German troops disarmed and interned the Danish Military.  In response to increasing terror and executions, large segments of the Danish population engaged in widespread strikes against the German occupiers in June 1944, thereby paralysing public transport, telephone communication, and business activities.

The July 1944 Amendment No. 13 to Chapter 10 of the MI9 Bulletin on Escape and Evasion in Denmark stated that “The morale of the Danes is very high.  Since the disturbances of Aug 43 they are almost all extremely anti-German and pro-Ally, and are very keen to help Allied evaders, even though doing so makes them liable to the death penalty.” (TNA WO208/3268)

Resentment against Germans in Denmark further increased in September 1944 when the Danish Police were also disarmed and interned, though many eluded the roundup and joined local Resistance movements.  The underground Danish Freedom Council increasingly reflected public attitudes as more and more civilians joined covert local Resistance groups.

By the time Slater, Fairclough, Foster, Mitchell, and Bertie baled out of Lancaster ME449 over Denmark on 12 March 1945, they landed in an environment in which the probability of receiving assistance from the Danish population was high, though not guaranteed.