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Best Proposes the Persecution and Deportation of Danish Jews

Proposal sent by Werner Best, Reich Commissioner in Denmark:


Copenhagen, September 8, 1943, at 13:10 hours
Received: September 8, 1943, at 14:25 hours
No. 1032 of September 8.
Extremely Urgent

I request that the following information be passed on to the Foreign Minister:

With reference to your telegram No. 537 of 4/19/43 and my report of 4/24/43-II C 102/43 - I hereby beg, in light of the new situation, to report on the Jewish problem in Denmark as follows: In accordance with the consistent application of the new policy in Denmark, it is my opinion that measures should now be taken toward a solution of the problems of the Jews and the Freemasons. The necessary steps should be taken as long as the present state of emergency exists, for afterward they will be liable to cause reaction in the country, which in turn may lead to a reimposition of a general state of emergency under conditions which will presumably be less convenient than those of today. In particular, as I have been informed from many sources, the constitutional government - should it exist - would resign. The King and the Rigsdag would also cease their participation in government of the country. It may be assumed, moreover, that in such an event a general strike would break out, for the trade unions would cease their activities and their restraining influence on the workers would be removed. If measures are taken during the present state of emergency, it may be that the formation of a legally constituted government will be rendered impossible and it will be necessary to set up an administrative council under my leadership. I would then have to legislate by means of decree. In order to arrest and deport some 6,000 Jews (including women and children) at one sweep it is necessary to have the police forces I requested in my telegram No. 1001 of 9/1. Almost all of them should be put to work in Greater Copenhagen where the majority of the local Jews live. Supplementary forces should be provided by the German Military Commander in Denmark. For the transportation, ships must be considered a prime necessity and should be ordered in time. As regards the Freemasons, a possible solution is the formal closure of all their lodges (to which all the leading personalities of the country belong) and the temporary arrest of the most prominent Freemasons and confiscation of lodge property. To this end strong operational forces are also necessary. I beg to request a decision as to the steps I should take or what I have to prepare in connection with the Jewish and Freemason problems.

Dr. Best

Source: Leni Yahil, "The Rescue of Danish Jewry: Test of a Democracy," Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1969, pp. 138-139.

Source: Yad Vashem