Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gilleleje - Place of Harbors. Church and Fishing Boats Harbor Jews WWII

Gilleleje. A Town that Saved Jews
Gilleleje Kirkegard. Sonaendenesk Church 
Hornbaek Beaches

Gilleleje marina, Zealand, DK

Gilleleje.  Now also busy marina and vacation home area, Gilleleje saved the lives of hundreds of Jews. Gilleleje (pronounced "GILL e ya", see, is a fishing town at the north of Zealand, Denmark. The harbor now is full of commercial and recreational vessels.

In World War II, however, Gilleleje rallied during the German occupation to save hundreds of Jews by smuggling them to Sweden in the fishing boats. There were 7,500 Jews residing in Denmark overall at the time, and nearly all escaped by means of various routes set up by the Danes to get them to neutral Sweden. Of that number, 1,500 or so moved through Gilleleje.

Find the full story at Rescue of the Danish Jews, at 

Many Jews were concealed in the attic of this church, until they could be taken to the fishing boats. See  Eighty one, however, were in the attic at the Church when they were betrayed by someone in the town. They were captured, and killed.

To try to understand that era, read The Shoah Resource Center account, Yad Vashem: 

There had been a longstanding Jewish population also in Gilleleje. This site states that the Germans sometimes were allowed some escapes, see  

This stone, in the Gilleleje Church graveyard area,  shows Valdemar and Holga Lendorf, both born 1864-5, and I  can't read the dates of death. 1920 something for Holga? Then Hugo and Beatrice Lendorf, all meticulously tended.

Gilleleje is a quiet, fishing and vacation spot, with wealthy areas on the access roads near the water. The town is quiet, with thatched-roof homes.  Thatch is long-lasting, and seen often.

The larger fishing boats in WWII made false sides, or put holes in the bulkheads, for concealing escaping Jews for the crossing.

Sweden is just across the water.  Just outside town, heading south, is an old lighthouse. Find world lighthouses at

In the front of the lighthouse, facing the water, is the lever light, original swinging iron basket light. These date from the 1630's in other places, like the Swedish Falsterbo Fyr lever light in Scania. Fill it with burning coals, hoist it up, and swing it so it would be more visible than a stationery light.  The motion could distinguish it from another ship's light, or a lantern.  The information for Falsterbo looks applicable to this, see more at torch-light, as well as the mirrored light in the tower. Could this also have been used for signals to the fishing boats heading to Sweden, with Jews hidden inside?  

The beach is protected from development,

 and full of beach plums.

Is this one the Nakkehoved Ostre Fyr lighthouse in our tour guide?  It is very heavy looking. This has slimmer lines, and some decoration, a narrower light at the top.

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