A big chunk of Danish history has literally been rediscovered, after police recovered several boxes of Second World War documents during a sweep of Copenhagen flats yesterday.
Rigsarkivet, the state archives, had reported the documents missing earlier this year after officials there realised they had been robbed a number of times over the span of a decade.
The documents, including police reports, personal accounts and court papers, were reportedly taken from the archive in a systematic operation by two men, who are now in custody.
“These are no ordinary documents,” national archivist Asbjørn Hellum told Berlingske. “We’re talking about invaluable and irreplaceable cultural blueprints of Denmark’s past that were taken.”
The two suspects are known Nazi-sympathisers, and the records in question refer to a Danish soldier named Kaj Buchardt, who enlisted and fought for the Third Reich’s Wehrmacht during the 1940s.
Although Buchardt is not a widely recognised by most Danes, his personal story is one that has sparked plenty of debate in the past, as an example of Nazi sympathisers who served under the German banner during the war.
The debate was recently reignited on a closed internet forum called ‘slettet-af-rullen.dk’, which focuses on Danes who volunteered for the German division ‘Nordland’ and fought on the Eastern Front against Russia.
Both men are understood to have known Buchardt personally, and were trying to cover up the fact that he had deserted the army, only to join up again in the final stages of the war. It has also been revealed that the two men, who have been strongly linked to criminal rings in the past, were planning to sell the stolen documents to a single person, giving rise to suggestion that the suspects had were stealing the documents on someone else's behalf. Rigsarkivet has drawn up a long list of other possible offenders and the police have promised amnesty to anyone turning over stolen items.
“These documents were taken bit by bit. Not only was it organised, but the suspects were going after documents relating to a specific person,” Hellum told Berlingske. “Considering the amount of time invested into this robbery, it could only have been done with inside knowledge of how we work here at the archives.”
Vice police commissioner Tomas Juhl has admitted that the evidence points to something larger than a simple theft.
“Not only was the content targeted, but the timescale of the robbery also raises all sorts of questions about the motive of the crime. But it’s too early to get into specifics,” he told Berlingske.
The robberies were first discovered at the beginning of October. The police were immediately notified, but due to fears that the documents in question would be destroyed if the suspects become aware they were under surveillance, no immediate action was taken.
If convicted the two men face up to eight years in prison.