Germany invades Denmark

A Danish machine gun team

A Danish machine gun team on the 9th April 1940, two of them were to die later that day.

Danish soldiers with a 20 mm Madsen autocannon at a crossroads in Åbenrå, Denmark, April 9, 1940

Danish resistance was largely over within a matter of hours. In the face of greatly superior forces the King of Denmark recognised the futility of putting up a fight that would only result death and destruction without hope of altering the outcome, and led the way to an early ceasefire.

Denmark only had a few dozen aircraft. Most of them were destroyed on the ground in an early morning attack on Vaerloese airfield, as described by the commander of Luftwaffe I/ZG1, Wolfgang Falck:

I could see our target, the main airfield on the outskirts of Copenhagen. On the tarmac below were 10 old high wing Fokker reconnaissance aircraft and about two dozen Fokker D-21 fighters lined up in the morning sun, and they all seemed to be warming up. If they got into the air we would have our hands full – dog-fighting with a D-21 at low altitude would be no mean task. Just then I spotted one of the recce’s taking off. As I went for the Fokker, now about 100 meters in the air, the others began strafing the now taxiing fighters as ground fire opened up on us. Firing both my cannon and Mg’s, the recce burst into flames and fell back to the ground as I pulled up. I banked around and saw fire and smoke billowing up from the burning aircraft on the ground.”

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Niels Bamberger describes German invasion of Denmark in 1940 and the impact on civilians:

We were in school that day. We saw loads and loads of planes, bombing planes coming one after–I mean hundreds and hundreds of planes coming in, and Germans on motorcycles, horses dragging cannons and the big tanks all over the place. It didn’t take more than a couple of hours ’til they took over the country. Like I said they couldn’t resist. Denmark was a very small country. And, uh, life went on as before, except that you are not allowed to walk on this side of the street, in front of the bank. They would post soldiers with, uh, guns and, and steel helmets and things like that in front of the banks and the hotels and important institutions that they wanted to guard. But besides that nothing happened really. The police was in force and the Danish army was…although they were there, they had not much to say or to do, but, uh, they were all…life was continuing the way it was.

Courtesy USHMM Bamberger’s family were Jewish, having resettled in Denmark in 1932. Their life was to continue relatively normally until 1943 when the Nazi roundup of Jews forced them to flee to Sweden. Of approximately 8,000 Jews in Denmark 99% were to survive the war.

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: