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NAZIS

Danish Nazis killed 1,400 Jews in WWII: new book

The authors of a new book say that their research shows that Danes actively particpitate in the slaughter of hundreds of Jews in Belarus, and there are now calls to investigate the surviving Danish Nazis.

Danish Nazis killed 1,400 Jews in WWII: new book
Members of Free Corps Denmark actively took part in the killing of Jews, a new book reveals. Photo: Weill/WikiCommons
A newly-released book alleges that Danish Nazis actively participated in the murder of 1,400 Jews at a prison camp in Belarus during World War II. 
 
Now two Danes may face an investigation of their 70-year-old crimes. 
 
The Danish People’s Party (DF) wants to see police investigate the claims in the new book, En skole i vold (A school of violence), and if necessary to prosecute the two living Danes who remain from the 800-man corps of Danish Nazis known as Free Corps Denmark (Frikorps Danmark). 
 
“This isn’t about putting an old man in prison but rather about clearing up what happened back then. I think there should be a case against him, so I will make a request to the justice minister,” DF’s Peter Skaarup told DR, referring specifically to one of the surviving Danes, an 89-year-old man who has spoken about his time with Frikorps Danmark. 
 
The other surviving Danish Nazi has not spoken publicly about what happened in Belarus. 
 
One of the authors of the new book said that his research dug up facts that challenge the traditional notion that the Danish Nazis stood passively by and witnessed the mass killing of Jews. 
 
“We have witness testimonies that show the Danish Nazis were deeply involved in genocide and a number of war crimes during their time on the Eastern Front,” Dennis Larsen told DR.
 
Larsen said that the Danes spent eight months between 1942 and 1943 in the Bobruisk concentration camp in Belarus, where at least 1,400 of the 1,500 Jews in the camp were killed while the Danes were there. 
 
“The Danes were in the camp for eight months, and during that period there was daily culling of the Jews. Executions. The Danes were a part of this and the last Dane didn’t leave the camp until shortly before it closed,” Larsen said. 
 
Larsen agreed with DF that even though the atrocities took place seven decades ago, the Danish involvement should still be investigated. 
 
“We have a moral obligation to look into these things. It is never too late to learn from history and avoid a repeat. Better late than never, you could say,” he told DR. 
 
Although some 6,000 Danes are estimated to have joined the Free Corps Denmark during the course of World War II, the Danish resistance movement is estimated to have included well over 20,000 Danes who worked to actively undermine the German occupation. Danish fishermen also put themselves at great risk by ferrying Denmark’s Jews to safety in Sweden. 
 
A film about the Danish resistance movement from the US National Archives and Records Administration can be seen below. 

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VIKING

How a Viking king inspired one of our best-known modern technologies

A Swede and American tell the story of how they hatched the idea for the moniker 'Bluetooth' over beers.

A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth
A Danish 16th-century paining of Viking king Harald Bluetooth. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

At the end of the 1990s, Sven Mattisson, a Swedish engineer working at telecom group Ericsson, and Jim Kardach, an American employed by Intel, were among those developing the revolutionary technology.

In 1998, at the dawn of the “wireless” era, the two men were part of an international consortium that created a universal standard for the technology first developed by Ericsson in 1994.

But prior to that, they had struggled to pitch their wireless products. Intel had its Biz-RF wireless programme, Ericsson had MC-Link, while Nokia had its Low Power RF. Kardach, Mattisson and others presented their ideas at a seminar in Toronto in late 1997.

“Jim and I said that people did not appreciate what we presented,” Mattisson, now 65 and winding down his career at Ericsson, recalled in a recent interview with AFP.

The engineer, who had travelled all the way to Canada from Sweden for the one-hour pitch, decided to hang out with Kardach for the evening before flying home.

“We received a lukewarm reception of our confusing proposal, and it was at this time I realised we needed a codename for the project which everyone could use,” Kardach explained in a long account on his webpage.

‘Chauvinistic story’

To drown their sorrows, the two men headed for a local Toronto bar and ended up talking about history, one of Kardach’s passions. “We had some beers… and Jim is interested in history so he asked me about Vikings, so we talked at length about that,” said Mattisson, admitting that his recollection of that historic night is now somewhat foggy.

Kardach said all he knew about Vikings was that they ran “around with horned helmets raiding and looting places, and that they were crazy chiefs.”

Mattisson recommended Kardach read a well-known Swedish historical novel about the Vikings, entitled “The Long Ships”.

Set in the 10th century – “a chauvinistic story” about a boy taken hostage by Vikings, says Mattisson – one name in the book caught Kardach’s attention: that of the king of Denmark, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.

A Bluetooth adapter from 2004. Photo: Stefan Gustavsson/SvD/TT

Unification

An important historic figure in Scandinavia in the 10th century, the king of Denmark’s nickname is said to refer to a dead tooth, or, as other tales have it, to his liking for blueberries or even a simple translation error.

During his reign, Denmark turned its back on its pagan beliefs and Norse gods, gradually converting to Christianity.

But he is best known for having united Norway and Denmark in a union that lasted until 1814.

A king who unified Scandinavian rivals – the parallel delighted those seeking to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.

And the reference to the king goes beyond the name: the Bluetooth logo, which at first glance resembles a geometric squiggle, is in fact a superimposition of the runes for the letters “H” and “B”, the king’s initials.

Low-cost and with low power consumption, Bluetooth was finally launched in May 1998, using technology allowing computer devices to communicate with each other in short range without fixed cables.

The first consumer device equipped with the technology hit the market in 1999, and its name, which was initially meant to be temporary until something better was devised, became permanent.

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