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Karina and Knud Parkow with their son
Karina and Knud Parkow with their son

Karina and Knud Parkow Denmark

Snekkersten, Denmark… October 1943 – In the spring of 1943, the Danish people stepped up their resistance to the German occupation. Labor strikes and acts of sabotage intensified. On August 28, 1943, the German military commander in Denmark declared a state of emergency and commanded the Danish government to institute martial law. The Danish government refused to do so and resigned. The presiding Nazi official in Denmark, Werner Best, saw this as an opportunity to begin the deportation of the Danish Jews.

Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, a German official stationed in Denmark, leaked the news of the pending deportation to Danish leaders, who informed the Jewish community. On September 29, 1943 – the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the chief rabbi of Denmark entered the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen, announced the plans for the deportation, and told the congregants to leave immediately and go into hiding. The arrests were set to begin on October 2, but they would not be successful. The people of Denmark, members of the resistance, church leaders, students, policemen, physicians, and ordinary citizens spontaneously came together to thwart the operation.

Knud Parkow and his wife Karina were members of “Friends of the Sound”, a group of Danes based in Snekkersten that coordinated the secret crossings of Jews to Sweden. A neutral country, Sweden had agreed to accept the fleeing Jews and encouraged its citizens to welcome them. The “Friends of the Sound” used the Snekkersten Inn as their headquarters.  Knud and Karina Parkow allowed Jews to stay with them before departing to Sweden. They also helped to raise 10,000 Danish Kroner through Knud’s job as the manger of Wiibroe Brewery.

The Wiibroe Brewery had two freight vessels. Knud, as a manager, had access to the vessels and was able to use them to smuggle Jews to Sweden. Underneath the crates of the vessel, Knud helped to carve out space for 40 refugees.  Soon other Danish resistance members started to copy Knud’s idea and carved out spaces in other boats to reduce detection by the Germans.

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