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Insights into the Danish way of life – Week 18

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Raise your flags: today we celebrate Danmarks Befrielse (Liberation Day of Denmark), after the country regained its freedom from Germany in 1945. In light of last week’s World Press Freedom Day, let’s take a look at Danish journalism during occupation. Although the media was highly censored, uncensored newspapers found their way through. Illegal press arose between Danes, with the Royal Library as one of the secret recipients. To stay unnoticed, issues were addressed to the “Historian” and kept in the archive. One night in 1944, the librarian was woken by the Gestapo, who had intercepted the illegal mail. He was forced to hand over the collection, but the lack of electric light in the library allowed him to get away with giving up only 10 packages lying close to the door. When questioned about other packages in the room, he stated the boxes contained tax lists. He continued to hide the material, this time behind the shelves.

During the five years of occupation, Danes were forced to darken their windows, and street lights were shielded from above. The blackout was intended to make it hard for airplanes to navigate over Denmark. At 8:35 on May 4, 1945, the BBC broadcast announced that German soldiers had withdrawn, which was followed by a collective burning of the curtains. To this day, it is tradition to light candles on the windowsills on the evening of May 4. While most of Denmark celebrated liberation on May 5, the island of Bornholm only reached liberation in 1946, when Soviet soldiers retreated.

The Copenhagen Marathon, an annual event held since 1980, is also taking place on Sunday, May 5. The race hosts 10,000+ participants and has a top prize of €8,000, with an additional €4,000 for new records. Check this year’s course map to learn where to watch it and be aware of traffic alterations. 

On Thursday, May 9, we will be observing Ascension Day, a national holiday, and celebrating Europe Day.

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