Secret Cold War operation revealed by weapons donation

A discovery of weapons from a hidden arsenal sheds light on an otherwise enigmatic chapter of Danish history

Weapons handed in anonymously to the Resistance Museum by previously-unknown Danish guerilla armed forces have opened a debate on the extent to which Danish intelligence employed illegal activities in the fight against communism during the Cold War.

According to several leading experts, the anonymously-donated weapons originate from stay-behind operations that were established in co-operation with the CIA and NATO during the Cold War in order to respond to threats from Moscow.  

"They have been concealed in a manner that is indicative of the Cold War, which is why we can assert that they most likely stem from a stay-behind operation,” Søren Rasmussen of the Resistance Museum said.

In 2009, the domestic intelligence agency PET made clear that Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE), the Danish military intelligence agency, entered an agreement in 1951 with the CIA to develop a stay-behind operation to be administered by Danes. But it is unclear how the agreement was actually put into practice.

A former director of the CIA, William Colby, has also described how his intelligence agency established and provided weapons to a secret army in Denmark. This assertion has been denied by various Danish governments.

Ole Espersen (Socialdemokraterne), Denmark's justice minister from 1981-1982, said that the new weapon discovery provides food for thought.

”If the weapon discovery can be connected to the CIA, it suggests the US took actions that violated Danish legislation," he said. "I was certainly not informed of during in my time as minister.”

Cold War historian Peer Henrik Hansen is convinced that the CIA was involved in the weapons.

”The description suggests that the weapons stem from the stay-behind operation the CIA established in Denmark during the Cold war," Hansen said. "But our knowledge is sparse because public authorities are hesitant in providing information.”

FE has not commented on the weapon discovery. In a written statement, the agency expressed that it has no knowledge of any stay-behind activities in Denmark connected to the CIA.