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PostGeorg Duckwitz and the Escape of Danish Jews (Patrick Mears, Germany, 11/12/18 4:00 pm)
One of my wife's best friends, who is also a journalist, is Philip Duckwitz, the grandson of Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz (1904-1973).
Georg is mentioned in the article linked in Paul Levine's post of November 11th. Georg's grandson is an almost-dead-ringer for his famous grandfather, who apparently was the first German to spread the word of the imminent round-up of Jews in Denmark during the Second World War, permitting many to escape.
A few months ago, Philip and his Polish wife visited us in Heidelberg, spending two days with us. During his visit, Philip had some very interesting and thrilling tales to tell about his grandfather's heroic actions in Denmark during the Nazi occupation of that country. Georg's Wikipedia entry is worth a look.
Philip, my wife Cornelia, and some other of their journalist friends will be leaving Germany soon for a press trip to Thailand, so I might hear more about his grandfather's exploits soon.
JE comments: A true hero from within the Nazi regime. Given his extraordinary bravery (see Wikipedia below), it's amazing Duckwitz didn't run afoul of the Gestapo. He also served as a diplomat in the postwar period, reaching the rank of Secretary of State in the Foreign Office. In 1971, Israel named him a "Righteous Among the Nations."
Pat, please give my best regards to Philip.
Georg Duckwitz, "Righteous Among Nations"
(Leo Goldberger, USA
11/15/18 4:27 AM)
As Georg Duckwitz has been one of my heroes as far back as the 1960s when I began to research and publicize the historic background for the successful rescue of the Danish Jews in 1943--my family and I among them--and as I have frequently cited him as the exceptional "good German" he was, responsible as I deemed him to have been for warning the Jewish community in the nick of time, at the greatest risk to his own life.
Over the years it has pained me to read articles by several younger Danish historians engaged in the re-rewriting of history (with the greater access to documentary resources), in which the characterization of Duckwitz as a hero has been questioned, in part because of the questionable accuracy of some of his diary notes and dates, among several other critical assertions--including their downplaying the rigor with which the Yad Vashem examined his background before naming him as "Righteous Among Nations" recipient, which, it is claimed, was based in some measure by only a single but quite unreliable Danish policeman's testimony. In addition, there are serious allegations about his involvement as a German spy living in Denmark before the outbreak of the war in the deaths of some 1300 torpedoed marines.
My own positive assessment of Duckwitz has remained firm--an assessment I share with the very meticulously researched account by the Danish historian and journalist, Bo Lidegaard (Countrymen: The Untold Story of how Denmark's Jews escaped the Nazis, of the courage of their fellow Danes--and of the extraordinary role of the SS. NY: Knopf, 2013), I am nevertheless most curious to learn what his grandson might have heard or read about these less than favorable questions about his grandfather's Nazi past and whether he in fact is aware of them--as some might only have been available in Danish. If that be the case, I'd recommend he might find Lidegaard's book of immense interest.
JE comments: Fascinating information, Leo. All heroes will undergo scrutiny eventually; it's what historians do. The grandson is journalist Philip Duckwitz, introduced to us by Patrick Mears: