Reflections on the German Occupation of Denmark During the Second World War

Signe Bjorner

[The following are exerpts from a letter written by Signe Bjorner in 1945, after the end of the Second World War, to Anna George deMille. Signe Bjorner was editor of the Danish Georgist organ Grundskyld, and the mother of Bue Bjorner, president of the International Union for Land Value Taxation and Free Trade. This edited letter is reprinted from the Henry George News, November, 1945]

"Indeed we are grateful that … we may [now] talk freely everywhere; sleep at night without hearing the machine gun patrols and wondering who they were after; wake up early and know the racket at the back door is only the milkman with his bottles.

"On that 29th of August, which seemed to be the turning point of Denmark's fate - after the point blank refusal to give in further to the Germans - Bue was, among the first to be arrested by them. They came at five o'clock in the morning, waking everybody with their brutal clatter so that the children were horrified, and drove Bue off to no one knew where.

"Later we learned that he was only one of a hundred -- taken to a camp, not executed, as the captors had made us believe. But for eight weeks no one knew what was to be their fate.

"The raid on the Jews was anticipated and they were warned to get away while they could. Sweden was wonderful and took them in. My sons and son-in-law, Leif Hendie, organized routes and smuggled thousands safely over - they were just one crew out of many. Finally a traitor betrayed Leif and our own police took him to Sweden, where he continued the rescue; work, and where Karin, his wife, | joined him later. She, too, was in the 'illegal' work up to the ears, and a few days after she got away, the Gestapo searched their house. This was typical of what happened to thousands of families; in fact, no one was secure at all.

"We had two visits from the Gestapo, as we were constantly housing patriots who were not safe in their own homes. What stories I could tell you! Of the American pilots for whom Dan Bjorner had to raid the wardrobes of his friends to get civilian clothes, how they were shown the city, right under the noses of our green jailors, and finally brought safely over, etc. But anyone can tell you exciting tales - not all with happy endings. So many, many of the best were taken away, tortured, starved, killed" … and how many more fine American and English boys!

"The Folkes, too, were visited by the Gestapo. Dan Folke had to go into exile, to Sweden. …Well, that's all over and we breathe freely again.

"You will be pleased to know that the 9th Danish edition of Henry George's 'Condition of Labor' was published last fall. Our work has been going on quietly and steadily. F. Folke is still chairman of the Danish Henry George Society. We send out GRUNDSKYLD right along, and new books once in a while. The boldest trick I did was to send out a book by five authors called 'Folkestyrets Veje Ude Og Hjemme' (Democracy Abroad and at Home). There were chapters on ancient Greece, England, Switzerland, the United States and Denmark; that about the United States being written by me. ...There have been new editions of Jacob Lange's 'Social Economy' and several smaller books. This autumn there will be a general valuation of the land, and we hope there will be some good legislation after the election.

"The war is really over and no more massacres will be necessary! I just cannot write about our reaction to the atomic bomb. It is so terrible and so great. Is humanity ripe for such power? Or will it finally annihilate itself and blow the whole earth to atoms? If the mentality of Henry George had conquered, what a golden age our earth would be coming into now. But since it hasn't, will we be given the time to practice the brotherhood of man?

"It is as though we, George's followers, haven't been able to keep up with the progress of material forces -- we are not great enough or we haven't worked hard enough -what? Sometimes you see quiet movement suddenly burst into action, a slow force has proved its revolutionary strength, proved that right is .might. How I pray that it will come like that: a sudden light!"

A copy of the complete letter from Mrs. Bjorner I sent to her son Hans, now living in Pasadena, and Hans Bjorner writes back to me:

"It is hard to understand how Henry George people in Denmark could do their work for our cause so comparatively in the open. Of course, when 'liberal' people do not realize that Henry George's way is the only way to true liberty, how could we expect the Nazis to know it? It will be our task to teach them that, and not to attempt to uproot their ideas about the master race. They will find out what they are and what they are not when they compete with other peoples in freedom. For one who has read Henry George, there is nothing so very strange about their ways. They are just one step ahead of some other countries - on the way down.