The screening was organised by the Danish, German and Israeli embassies in Hungary, and was held to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, held each January 27 since 2006, and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the rescue of Denmark’s Jews.

Denmark had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939 but nonetheless was quickly invaded with only token resistance in 1940. During World War Two, Jews were systematically deported from around Europe to Germany’s concentration camps, but Denmark remained an exception until October 1943. There had been rumours from time to time that the Jews were to be caught and sent to camps, but early that month they received a tip-off of an impending purge and were told to flee immediately.

When the Nazis went house to house, they found the Jews had gone. The Danish Resistance movement, police and ordinary Danes launched a large-scale evacuation of the Jews to nearby Sweden, traditionally a neutral country. "People refused to accept that their neighbours should be dragged away," recounts one survivor in the film.

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In the race to escape, Danish fishermen up and down the coast risked everything by hiding Jews in their small boats. A few were captured but 99 percent of Denmark’s Jews escaped, though it was a terrifying nighttime ordeal for most. People were crammed with strangers in the boats’ holds for hours, some people had to do some swimming and drowned, some boats leaked. As was pointed during discussion before and after the film showing, some fishermen enriched themselves by charging for the rescue.

The 58-minute documentary shows what happened, allowing survivors and witnesses to explain how it felt to leave their homes and their country not knowing what the future would hold. The film was shown in the presence of one of its makers, Jonatan Jerichow, who took questions from the audience after the showing, in the Jewish District’s Goldmark Hall.

Also on the panel discussing the film were Associate Professor Dr. Judit Molnár, whose field of research is the history of the Jews in Hungary in the 20th century, and who spoke on the Horthy system and the Holocaust in Hungary. She and Jerichow joined in a question-and-answer session with the three ambassadors: Kirsten Geelan, of Denmark, Volkmar Wenzel, of Germany, and Yossi Amrani, of Israel.

The three diplomats noted that their joining of hands to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the rescue of the Danish Jewish community was to "convey a message of the importance of education and learning as a safeguard not only against forgetfulness, revision or denial but to ensure a better future for humanity and mankind."

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"It is our common belief that education, recognising the truth and accepting it is the first step in commemorating, and as important for our days, fighting the rising of antisemitism and hate."


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