Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Leif Donde

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Observations on Danish culture

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Partial Transcript: This is Leora. It's Octo--

Segment Synopsis: Donde indicates that Danish Catholics helped the Germans in their search for Jews. He discusses Danish folk high schools, pioneered by N. F. S. Grundtvig in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Catholicism; Danish Catholics; Leo Goldberger; N. F. S. Grundtvig

Subjects: Denmark.; Education.; Folk high schools.; Grundtvig, N. F. S. (Nicolai Frederik Severin), 1783-1872

00:04:59 - His family during the German occupation

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Partial Transcript: If you could just start, sort of, at the beginning, you know, when you were young, um--

Segment Synopsis: Donde discusses his family and his perception of the beginning of the war when he was six years old. He describes Allied bombing of German-occupied Copenhagen in 1943 that forced his family to leave their home to seek shelter, and he recalls his discomfort at seeing his family badly treated and finally forced to flee. He reflects on the experience of having to hide the fact that he was Jewish.

Keywords: Copenhagen (Denmark); German occupation; Jewish culture; Jews

Subjects: Bombing, Aerial--Denmark; Denmark--History--German occupation, 1940-1945.; Family life.

GPS: Copenhagen (Denmark)
Map Coordinates: 55.676, 12.568
00:19:15 - Life under German occupation

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Partial Transcript: Ok, something that--(clears throat) that, that I wanted to know also was the day-to-day life with the Germans, how you--well, they didn't identify you as a Jewish because you didn't have to wear the stars.

Segment Synopsis: Donde describes the attitude of the German authorities, and emphasizes that Danish collaborators were often more dangerous than the Germans themselves. He explains that he was eventually forced to leave school. He describes the activities of the Danish resistance movement.

Keywords: Collaborators; German occupation; Jewish schools; Sabotage; Saboteurs

Subjects: Collaborationists; Denmark--History--German occupation, 1940-1945.; Resistance movements, War

00:31:41 - Escape from Denmark

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Partial Transcript: I remember that when we arrived in that small southern town, uh, in, uh, of, of Denmark, that, that we came in by-by train, that I thought it an oddness to stay in a hotel.

Segment Synopsis: Donde explains that during the days of his family's escape from Denmark, he does not remember any disagreements among them. He describes their escape through a roadblock, to a seaport, onto a boat, and into Sweden.

Keywords: Family life; Hotels

Subjects: Ocean travel.; Refugees.; Sweden

00:43:51 - Refugees in Sweden

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Partial Transcript: What happened after you got off?

Segment Synopsis: Donde explains that upon arriving in Sweden his father discovered that certain relatives had also escaped, and that these relatives and their friends helped Donde's family find work and housing in Göteborg. He describes his father's joining a police force in Sweden designed to help the allies reclaim Denmark. Revisiting his escape out of Denmark, he explains that he has not been able to trace the individuals responsible for seeing his family safely out of Denmark, but that he does know that large networks were set up to organize such escape routes, particularly involving hospitals such as Bispebjerg Hospital.

Keywords: Gothenburg (Sweden); Police; Resistance movements

Subjects: Göteborg (Sweden); Hospitals.; Hovedstadens sygehusfællesskab bispebjerg hospital; Refugees.

GPS: Gothenburg (Sweden)
Map Coordinates: 57.700, 11.967
00:51:25 - His childhood perspective / reflections on the mistreatment of Danish Jews

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Partial Transcript: Um, I was going to ask you: Did you understand, then, that the Allied bombing, when you were a child--how was that--explained to you?

Segment Synopsis: Donde explains his reaction to Allied bombing raids as a child, and that at the time he came to the conclusion that the Germans were "bad" even though he never had direct contact with a German soldier. He discusses his family's assimilation into non-Jewish culture, noting the differences between Jewish and Danish culture in terms of the state church. He explains how the German authorities identified Jewish individuals in Danish cities, and he concludes by discussing the embarrassment of the Danish people at the mistreatment of Danish Jews.

Keywords: German occupation; State churches

Subjects: Bombing, Aerial--Denmark; Established churches.; Jews, Danish; Nazis.