Never again an April 9
NOW, 75 YEARS after the German invasion on 9 April 1940, we are in no doubt when it comes to what, when, why and who. A new movie has shown the heroic but rather hopeless resistance that was put up in southern Jutland. The German Wehrmacht arrived with 125,000 soldiers, 1,000 airplanes and its Baltic fleet. There was not a lot we could have done, even with better preparations. We were alone and weak.
Stuck in neutral
DENMARK was at the time neutral. As the controlling power over the sailing routes to the Baltic Sea, Denmark could not afford an alliance with Britain or Germany. And it would not be allowed one. However, a non-aggression pact with Germany was implemented. The Germans then said sorry, but we need the iron ore from Sweden to be shipped out from Narvik in Norway and we have to control the sailing route. Thus we have to occupy Denmark and Norway to prevent the British from doing so.
THROUGH the whole of World War II, millions of tonnes of supplies were shipped to Germany and were essential for the German war machine. Sweden allowed that – not that reluctantly – as the price they had to pay to stay out of the war.
Which was just as well, as Sweden became a much appreciated refuge for Danish and Norwegian resistance members on the run – not to mention the 7,000 Danish Jews who were smuggled across to safety. Less than 500 were rounded up
and deported to German concentration camps where luckily many survived. But it was all about steel.
No more Mr Nice Guy
THAT WAS the end of Danish neutrality. Being a frontline state against the Soviet bloc, we knew we might once again be occupied to open the waters for the Soviet Baltic Fleet, but this time we would not let it happen without a fight and we did not want to fight. We joined NATO in 1948 after the Nordic defence plan failed. It is still debated if NATO could really have prevented an invasion, but eventually the balance of power and the nuclear shield succeeded. There was just a nagging doubt if we were really worth a nuclear strike from our allies if a surprise attack from the east was launched. But that would to some extent depend on ourselves.
Learning the lessons
WE SAW then and now that neutrality does not make sense. Global hostility of all sorts can only be met with a co-ordinated effort from all democratic
We have seen how terrorism and crime are internationalised and not playing by any rules. Where would we be if we had not learned the lesson from 9 April 1940?