President Rivlin with Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen
President Rivlin with Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort FrederiksenHaim Zach (GPO)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday began his visit to Denmark by laying a wreath at the monument to the Danish underground.

The Danish underground led the effort to save the Jews of Denmark during the Second World War.

Rivlin was escorted by the Denmark's Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen and Holocaust survivor Salli Besiakov.

Besiakov, who also laid a wreath at the monument, was rescued as a fifteen-year-old by the efforts of the underground. In October 1943, Besiakov and his family left their home for a safe house in Copenhagen. His life was saved when he was taken on a fishing boat to Sweden.

President and Mrs Rivlin shook his hand warmly and discussed his life.

“The determination with which the Jews of Denmark were saved moves us even today,” Rivlin said in his meeting with Besiakov.

After the ceremony, the Rivlins will meet Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for a private meeting.

Rivlin is in Denmark at the invitation of the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Gribskov local council, and the Gilleleje church. His visit honors a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the rescue of over 7000 Danish Jews from Nazi persecution and their safe transfer to Sweden in October 1943.

The story of the rescue of Denmark's Jews is one of the most remarkable in the history of the Holocaust: Ninety percent of the Danish Jewish community was rescued and when they returned home, they found that their property had been protected by their fellow Danes.

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