Vincens Steensen-Leth debates potential aid for a Jewish woman in Germany married to a Dane in 1942



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DearHans Jakob Hansen,

Thank you for your kind letter of l.ds. P.J.I.Jr.No. 17.E. Tys.12 / 100, concerning Mrs. Martha Hagen. I understand, that in Danish circles, where the German attitude to the Jewish question has not yet penetrated, we can be somewhat disappointed with the weak results in these cases and tend to think that we are too reluctant on the part of the envoy and would, therefore, like to try, as far as possible in a letter, to redress our difficulties.

The official German attitude towards the Jews gradually becomes more and more severe as the war progresses. The Jews are seen as the enemies of the People and they want to get rid of them, at best through isolation in ghettos in the designated areas. This attitude applies to the Jews as a race without regard to citizenship, and the goal is the introduction of a Jewish law similar to the German throughout Europe, that is, also in Denmark.

So far, the foreign Jews in Germany are spared some of the most rigorous provisions, but it is clear that even non-German Jews, in due course,

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must be anti-nationalsocialist. Both German and foreign Jews were generally allowed to travel earlier - so they could get rid of them -, but as the war progressed, another consideration became more and more applicable: The fear of information about conditions in this country being spread across the world, which could damage Germany's position and bring substance to the anti-nationalsocialist propaganda. It is therefore preferable not to see too much traffic across the borders, by persons who are not considered to be 100% reliable politically – apart from the difficulties of permits for entry and exit in general - and for the Jews, who are all considered 100%-unreliable, we now see an almost completely shut down. While there are still exceptions made for foreign Jews it is no longer possible for German Jews to travel, even if they have acquired foreign citizenship by marriage, especially when the marriage took place after the introduction of the Jewish law, which is the case both with the married couple Hagen and with marriage of Thomsen in Schøn’s letter of 7 August to Ryder.

As you know, in the first few years after the introduction of Jewish laws, several female German Jews married foreigners. The German authorities regard all these marriages as concluded solely for trying to circumvent the Jewish laws. In most cases, the motives behind the marriages are self-evident (which, of course, does not preclude the man from acting on the noblest and most humane motives). In addition, according to German opinion, mixing Aryan and Jewish blood is a crime, and that marriages between Aryans and Jews are

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forbidden. I, therefore, believe that we are wise to leave these cases as hopeless and save the very poor ‘goodwill’ we have for cases about Danish Jews with Connection to Denmark. Even for their part, it can be difficult, since the German side expects that the government of a neighbouring country shows an understanding of the German attitude, cf. Minister Mohr's Letter of 28 April to the Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding Articles in the ' Kamptegnet ', which in my opinion is very illustrative.

The way in which you suggest allowing the Consulate General to go to the police has to be taken with great caution. In several cases, the police have rejected such requests from the Consulate General and wanted the issue to go the diplomatic way. We have also seen that the police authorities have said to the Consulate General that they would have to look after the person if she continued to bother them with applications. We hereby reach a point that I am afraid hasn’t had much attention at home. As a rule, the persons seeking our and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs` assistance have tried all possible ways. The result easily becomes an Irritation to the Authorities, which may cause fatal consequences for the persons concerned. There is a risk that the authorities, in order to get rid of more nonsense, will send those concerned to the General Government or to Theresienstadt. Furthermore, there is the risk of 1) that the relatively gentle treatment of foreign Jews in part is replaced by a sharper course and 2) that the question of precautionary measures against Jews in Denmark becomes relevant. After all,

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it is of no use that Denmark becomes more famous than most necessary as a Jewish sanctuary. I, therefore, allow you to recommend that you explain to Mr. Hagen, that by pushing more on applications for the wife's exit permit, as well as through us as directly to the German authorities, will risk doing her more harm than good.

Vincens Steensen-Leth


  • Updated 4 years ago
The German army occupied Denmark on 9 April 1940. Until 1943, the occupation regime appeared relatively benign: It dominated foreign policy, but allowed the Danish government complete autonomy in domestic affairs, including control of the legal system and police forces. The tone of the German occupation changed in early 1943. Rather than yield to German demands, the Danish government resigned on 29 August 1943. German authorities took direct control of the Danish military and police forces. Othe...


  • Danish National Archives
  • Denmark
  • Rigsdagsgaarden 9
  • Kopenhaagen
  • Updated 1 year ago