Hitler's Savage Canary

Hitler's Savage Canary

A History of the Danish Resistance in World War II

Book - 2011
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Adolf Hitler stated that after occupation Denmark would turn into a 'model protectorate'. Winston Churchill meanwhile maintained that the small country of (then) four million people would become 'the sadistic murderer's canary'. In the end, neither was right. With no help initially from the Allies, the Danes set up a resistance movement that proved to be a constant irritation to the occupation forces - not a meek canary, but a dangerous and courageous bird of prey that refused to be caged. The scale of the resistance to the Nazis in Denmark is without equal: twenty-six million issues of illegal newspapers had been published by 1945; radio guides for Allied aircraft had been set up on the coasts; boat services ran between Sweden, Denmark and Britain; a news bureau provided a stream of inside information to the Allies; German ships were unable to move out of the ports; and troops were frustrated by the sabotage of railways and air bases. Incredibly, almost the entire Jewish population - some 7,000 people - was shipped to safety in Sweden. The selfless courage shown by the Danes, when collaboration would have been an easy option, is astonishing. This story of foolhardy heroism and daring by a small country is a thrilling read, and provides a real insight to the mindset of a people under occupation. AUTHOR: David Lampe was born in Maryland, USA in 1923. He served with the USAF in Europe during the Second World War until being discharged in 1952. After the war he lived in Britain, working as a freelance writer. His first book, The Savage Canary, was first published in 1957. In 2003 Lampe died after suffering from a long-term illness. SELLING POINTS: Little known history of the Danish Resistance, who were called 'second to none' by Field Marshal Montgomery Fascinating and thrilling tale of heroism Rare images of the Resistance in action ILLUSTRATIONS 8 pages of plates
Publisher: Barnsley, S. Yorkshire : Frontline Books ; New York : Skyhorse Pub., c2011
ISBN: 9781848325746
Branch Call Number: 940.53489 LAMPE
Characteristics: xvi, 237 p. : ill., map. ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Riis-Jørgensen, Birger


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Vilka Dec 04, 2011

When the Nazis entered Denmark, the small country didn't have the military power to stand a chance fighting and was forced to accept status as a protectorate under German control. Because of this, much of the world dismissed Denmark as 'Hitler's Canary'--you just sit in your cage singing whatever Hitler tells you to. But literally from Day One, thousands of ordinary Danes--from snot-nosed high school kids to old pastors to policemen, journalists, shopkeepers and labourers--started a campaign of stubborn resistance.
This book is a collection of some of the amazing true stories of not just organized Resistance groups, but ordinary citizens resisting, defying and generally making life difficult for Nazi authorities, at great risk to themselves.
Some chapters are collections of short vignettes. Other chapters cover larger plots and incidents—including the incredible story of how, over a 10-day period, the Danish people managed to smuggle almost every Jew in Denmark (7000 people!) out of the country before the Nazis could ‘disappear’ them; and the story of how, when the Nazis set an 8pm curfew, the people of Copenhagen all stopped work at noon (“so we can tend our vegetable gardens before curfew”...yeah...) and the city had a sudden epidemic of ‘sleepwalkers’ out past curfew.
I spent a lot of this book wondering “Why isn’t there a MOVIE about this?!” Had several episodes of laughing out loud at how so many people managed to get away with so many incredible acts of defiance, and how several others managed to get out of trouble in sometimes frankly miraculous ways.
The book was published in the late 50’s, so it assumes that readers already know something about WW2 (ie, you know what they’re talking about when they mention the Gestapo, SS, Luftwaffe, etc). There is also the 1950’s writing style, though I didn’t find that problematic since I took this book in small bites. The book doesn’t make Denmark’s story to be all sunshine, either: there are several mentions, and one full chapter, dealing with the Resistance’s Liquidation Corps, whose unpleasant job it was to kill traitors. Not all stories end in success, though some failures still make a good story (a few are even funny).
Overall, I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good adventure or a little-known part of history. It's a great look at how ordinary people could make such a huge difference in such a terrible time, and get through with wit and dignity. If you don't know about this part of WW2, you definitely should.


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Aug 05, 2015

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