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DISCOVER DENMARK

How to travel (almost) free on Danish trains this summer

Denmark’s national rail operator DSB on Tuesday announced a travel pass that will give unlimited access to public transport across the country during an eight-day period this summer.

train in aarhus
Passengers in Denmark can buy an eight-day pass for unlimited use of public transport during the summer. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The rejsepas (travel pass), which was also offered by DSB during the last two years, will be released for sale on June 1st and available until July 31st.

It will give the holder free access to all public transport in Denmark during eight consecutive days, which must be between June 25th and August 7th.

The pass will cost 399 kroner for adults, meaning one rail journey between Jutland and Copenhagen will see its costs covered (the regular ticket price for a single trip from Aarhus to Copenhagen is around 400 kroner).

In addition to all DSB trains, the pass can be used on Arriva buses and trains; the Copenhagen Metro and S-train, the Letbane in Aarhus and local rail services. In line with rules for regular tickets, you may need to buy an add-on ticket if you bring your bicycle with you on trains.

DSB notes that, because more maintenance works are carried out on tracks over the summer, you are more likely to travel on replacement buses or with reduced services or changed departure times.

The price of the pass for children is 199 kroner.

Sales of the travel pass will be limited to 75,000.

There’s additional good news for parents: if you travel using an adult pass, you can take up two children under the age of 12 with you for free.

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DANISH HISTORY

New Danish museum wants to ‘tell the story’ of country’s refugees

Built on the site of a camp for German World War II refugees, a new Danish museum opening Wednesday shines fresh light on personal stories of forced migration, past and present.

New Danish museum wants to ‘tell the story’ of country’s refugees

The new FLUGT (“flee” in Danish) Refugee Museum of Denmark, in the small town of Oksbøl on Jutland’s west coast, focuses primarily on German refugees, as well as others who have come to Denmark over the years.

Exhibits include personal items — from a tent to a teddy bear — that tell the intimate stories of people who have fled war and oppression in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chile, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Lebanon, Russia, Syria and Vietnam, among others. 

“We want to tell the story that is behind these numbers, there are actual people,” museum director Claus Kjeld Jensen told AFP ahead of Wednesday’s opening.

But for some, the museum’s open philosophy contrasts with Denmark’s approach to refugees, with successive right and left-wing governments pursuing one of Europe’s toughest immigration policies.

ANALYSIS: Why is Denmark treating Ukrainian refugees differently to those from Syria?

As World War II drew to a bloody close, roughly 250,000 Germans fled to Denmark as the Russian Red Army approached.

Around 35,000 of them found their way to the refugee camp in Oksbøl, instantly making the site Denmark’s fifth largest city by population size.

The camp, in operation from 1945 to 1949, had schools, a theatre and a workshop, all behind barbed wire.

Nowadays, little of the camp remains, aside from two former hospital buildings and a cemetery, hidden amid a thick, green forest.

“We have got this part of world history actually taking place right here where we’re standing. But then there is an actual situation today,” Kjeld Jensen said.

“We have far more refugees worldwide than we had by the end of World War II. So, I suppose the issue is far more relevant today than it has ever been.”

Denmark's new museum for refugee stories FLUGT

Denmark’s new museum for refugee stories FLUGT in Oksbøl. Photo: John Randeris/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II attended the museum’s official inauguration on June 25 with Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck. The German state contributed around 1.5 million euros to the 16-million-euro project.

“None of us would have thought it would be so sadly current to talk about refugees and fleeing,” the 82-year-old monarch said.
In 2021, the total number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflicts, violence, fear of persecution and human rights violations was 89.3 million, according to the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked fresh movement across Europe, with more than six million refugees fleeing across the borders, according to the UNHCR.

The new museum was designed by world-renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who recently finished Google’s new Silicon Valley headquarters and is set to design a new US museum about slavery in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ingels’ design links the two surviving hospital buildings with a new, circular rusty steel-clad construction. Indoors, towering timber frames stretch into the sky, creating a large, open foyer, from which visitors explore the exhibits.

“When you come here from the outside, you see this kind of closed undulating wall of corten steel,” explained Ingels.

“But then, when you move inside, you realise that there is this oasis or sanctuary that opens up towards the forest, which in a way is what the fugitives hopefully found here — a sanctuary from the war and a glimpse of a brighter future.”

In mid-2020, Denmark became the first European Union country to re-examine the asylum cases of several hundred Syrians from Damascus, judging it safe for them to return. It also plans to open asylum centres outside Europe where applicants would be sent to live.

READ ALSO: EU politicians criticise Denmark over return policy for Syrian refugees

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In 2021, only 2,099 people sought asylum in Denmark. 

UNHCR representative Henrik Nordentoft admitted there were “challenges” with Denmark’s refugee policies.

“These are very politically-driven and we hope, of course, that there will be a way of changing that,” he said.

The museum’s inauguration was attended by 82-year-old Jörg Baden, who fled Germany for Denmark in 1945 at the age of five, as well as more recent arrivals, including a 16-year-old who fled Syria in 2015 and a group of Ukrainian classical musicians who arrived earlier this year.

It’s a reminder, as Baden put it, that “Flugt is not only a topic of the past, it reaches into our lives today.”

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