Herbert Pundik on the Rescue of the Jews of Denmark

In a short interview about the rescue of the Jews of Denmark, Herbert Pundik, a former Danish-Israeli journalist and author, discusses the choices Danish people made during the rescue of the country’s Jews. Pundik was rescued when he was 16.

The following is a transcript of the video The Rescue of Jews in Denmark during the Holocaust, starting at minute 1:50, presented by Yad Vashem.

This was the situation as we approached the fateful night of the first and second of October, 1943, when the Germans got at us and you know, you know at that time nothing was prepared and we took no measures—not individually, not as a community to protect ourselves. The fact that we were saved is not due to our own precautions. It was only due to the fantastic [pause] —what I think was the, on the one hand, Danish sense of decency and on the other hand, power of improvisation. . . . If you want to understand the whole question of the rescue, you have to go down to the details of individuals, of the individuals suddenly acting. This is a major lesson of the whole rescue business in Denmark: Individuals count. If you want to become active you can make a major contribution to the life and the destiny of other people and of other individuals and that is exactly what the Danish did here. These people, these individuals saved other individuals lives, thereby of the totality of 7,000 Jews, only 474 were apprehended and caught by the Germans.1


Connection Questions

  1. What words does Pundik use to describe the rescue of Danish Jews?
  2. What does he see as the major lesson of the rescue in Denmark?
  3. Compare the way Pundik describes the rescue of Danish Jews with comments from historian Lenin Hahil from the Duckwitz reading. What similarities do you see? What differences do you notice? How does each account compare the way the rescue is discussed in the film excerpt?

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