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Peres Thanks Denmark for Saving Jews During WWII

President Shimon Peres hosts Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who is on his first visit to Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/31/2013, 5:44 AM

Crown Prince Frederik and President Shimon Peres
Crown Prince Frederik and President Shimon Peres
Mark Naiman/GPO

President Shimon Peres on Wednesday hosted Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark at his Residence in Jerusalem.

The Danish Crown Prince is on his first visit to Israel in commemoration of 70 years since the rescue of Danish Jews from the Holocaust. In October of 1943, more than 7,000 Jews were sent to safety in Sweden.

Peres welcomed Crown Prince Frederik to Israel and thanked him for what his country did for the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

"Let me express the appreciation of our people and of myself for your timely visit to our land and to Jerusalem,” he said.

“Denmark is an exemplary country in the world, a state based on peace, social justice and caring for people. I believe that's why you're admired. I want to express our profound thanks to your people for what they did during the Holocaust. Among all other countries it was Denmark that made a supreme attempt to save the lives of the Jewish people in your country either by hiding them, defending them or shipping them to Sweden,” said Peres.

“Most of them were saved and we shall never forget it, we consider it a historic act. I would like to express my personal appreciation for your visit and I hope that the Queen will follow suit; in our days parents are following their children and we shall be delighted to host her here."

Crown Prince Frederik thanked Peres and said, "Thank you very much Mr. President, I would like to extend my warmest wishes from my parents, Margrethe, Queen of Denmark and my father, Henrik, the Prince Consort of Denmark."

Referring to his visit earlier in the day to Yad Vashem, the Prince added, “On a personal note it is fantastic to be in Israel and to visit so far the museum and to witness also the part that tells a positive story during World War II about Danish Jews being shipped and rescued on small boats across from the shores of eastern Denmark to Swedish shores, that was a very bold act of good Danish citizens who came from all walks of life and who did not hesitate to act when it was very necessary.”

“For me this is something personal but today our two countries commemorate this. I will remember this visit for the rest of my life," he said.

Recently there has been some questioning of the role Denmark played in the Holocaust, as the nation had relations with Nazi Germany even as it supported its own Jews.

Nevertheless, the rescue of 7,000 Jews, roughly 95% of Denmark's total Jewish population, is an inspiring story from an otherwise horrific period.  Jews in Denmark reportedly were viewed by their non-Jewish neighbors as fellow countrymen, and King Christian X is said to have worn the Star of David in sympathy for the Jewish plight.