Danish Rescuer

Photograph of Knud Dyby in his underground

Knud Dyby was born in Randeis, Jutland, Denmark in 1915. He followed his father into the printing trade, training as a typographer after his university years. Upon completing his military service, he joined the national police force in Copenhagen. While traveling in Germany in 1937 and 1938, Knud saw at first hand the true nature of the Nazi regime. When the Germans occupied Denmark, he immediately joined several underground resistance groups, including the Danish-Swedish Refugee Service, a group named 1944, and Holger Danska.

On August 29, 1943 Knud and his cohorts learned of German plans for an imminent raid to round-up all Danish Jews for transport to concentration camps. Knud took a leading role in mobilizing the commercial fishermen in Copenhagen's North Harbor to transport Danish Jews in small groups to safety in nearby Sweden.

First the Jews had to be found and informed of the rescue effort. Knud discovered that going through doctors' offices was one of the most efficient means--everyone had a doctor, and the doctors proved to be entirely cooperative. To bring the Jews to the harbor at the appropriate moment entailed organizing the city's taxi drivers. Photograph of Knud Dyby in his State Police uniform, c.1943 When that was insufficient, being a member of the police force, Knud arranged for the use of state police cars. The success of the operation depended on the fishermen being able to avoid German naval patrols as well as the Danish Coast Police (Coast Guard) on the Danish side, and Swedish informers on the Swedish side. The danger of being caught and prosecuted was known to all involved in the risky operation.

Remarkably, in the short space of a week, using their small fishing vessels, the fishermen brought nearly every Danish Jew to safety in Sweden. Close to seven thousand people were saved by this effort.

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