World war ii museum essay contest


For fifty years after World War II, no one in Denmark investigated in detail the fate of the Jewish refugees who sought asylum there in the 1930s and 1940s. Denmark's status as one of the Allies was a delicate matter, and only the rescue of the Danish Jews to Sweden in October 1943 was widely known. Danish historians averted their gaze from darker aspects of Denmark's policy, which continued even after the war. Since the 1990s, closed archives have been forced open by a new generation of historians, revealing previously concealed aspects of World War II Denmark. It emerges that from 1935 Denmark rejected Jewish refugees at its borders, and that it expelled twenty-one Jewish refugees to Germany in 1940-1943 most of whom were eventually killed. New findings also show that Danish firms used Jewish slave laborers and that Denmark exported agricultural products that helped feed the German army.

The years 1935-38 were not quiet in the world, nor in Europe itself. By 1935, Italy was launching the conquest of eastern Africa, while Japan was attacking Manchuria and, later, the whole of China starting from Nanking. In central Europe, the new map drawn postwar suited almost none of the central European powers of the time. Germany, for example, was cut in two with the “Danzig Corridor” like a scar on its eastern edge. Southwards, the Czechs threatened to seize bordering territories in dispute since 1922. Czechoslovakia itself was harassed from within by Germanophile extremists supported by the Third Reich. In Hungary and Romania, the situation was not clear, and for long, the USSR had some interest in the rich north-eastern Bessarabian oilfields. Hungary, another country born from the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was also in a state of quasi-war with Czechoslovakia, due to border disputes.

World war ii museum essay contest

world war ii museum essay contest

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