Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz was born on September 29, 1904, in Bremen, Germany, to an old patrician family in the Hanseatic city. After finishing commercial college, he pursued a career in the international coffee trade, residing for several years in Scandinavian countries. In 1939, the Nazi Foreign Ministry assigned him to the German embassy in Copenhagen as an expert in maritime affairs.
As Duckwitz was intimately acquainted with local conditions and enjoyed good connections with Danish leaders, after 1942, he became a close confidant of the new Nazi Reich Representative (Reichsbevollmächtigter) for Denmark, Werner Best. A former deputy chief of the Gestapo and a hard-core Nazi ideologue, Best nevertheless chose to stick to the moderate policies of his predecessors. However, Hitler demanded a new iron-fist policy toward the increasingly rebellious country and an immediate implementation of the “Final Solution.”
On September 28, 1943, Best tipped off his confidant about the plan for the deportation of Denmark’s Jewish community of 6,500 people. At great risk to himself, Duckwitz proceeded to inform his Danish Social-Democratic friends, who, in turn, alerted the leadership of the Danish Jewish community. This made it possible for the Danes to carry out their great rescue operation, during which some 6,000 Jews where transported overnight in ships and boats across the sea to the safety of neighboring Sweden. By October 2, when the Gestapo set out to implement their plans, there were simply no Jews left to deport.
On March 29, 1971, Yad Vashem recognized Duckwitz as among the Righteous Among the Nations. He died on February 16, 1973.
Sources: Yad Vashem