Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Denmark's Jewish Museum

Denmark has never had a large Jewish community. The population has never exceeded 9,000. But its roots date back to the middle ages when Jews moved from other parts of Europe to settle around the country. However, there is a lovely Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, designed by Daniel Libeskind and modelled on his Berlin museum, that tells a number of fascinating stories.

A video explains how the king invited Sephardic Jews (from Portugal and elsewhere) to settle in the country since he knew they had good connections with other Jews around the world and would help foster international trade.

For me, the more interesting story was what happened during World War II. Few Danish Jews ended up in the German concentration camps since they were moved to Sweden. After the war they returned home. Some were able to resume their lives, but others were not, since their apartments had been rented out and they had difficulty finding work and returning to a normal life. But compared to other European Jews, they were fortunate, thanks to the kindness of Danish citizens.

A very beautifully designed and moving exhibition about the plight of the Jews who returned home is currently on display. Later this year it will move to Houston Texas. I'm sure there's an interesting story there!
In the gift shop I came across this book on the works of Arne Jacobsen, who it turns out was one of the Jews who was sent to Sweden and subsequently return. Who knew he was a member of the tribe?

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