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Freddy and Silja Vainer

“A triumph over the Nazis”

Writer: Tamar Akov

Photographer: Anders Clausen

Torn from their parents, both Silja (then 3 years old) and Freddy (then 4 years old), still bear the scars of that devastating October in 1943. They both remember how their families had to flee their Copenhagen homes and hide in temporary rural houses before reaching Sweden. Silja, whose maiden name is Fogel, had to separate from both her parents. Together with her brother and cousin, she was put in an orphanage under a fake name. She remembers living under a strict routine, surrounded by strangers for what felt like eternity. A week later the children were sent on a boat across the Sound but were bitterly disappointed when their parents were not there to receive them. A couple of days later the parents were tracked down, the family reunited, and they stayed together until their return to Denmark in May 1945. Whenever Freddy crosses over water, he is reminded of the day he stood with his mother and grandmother on the shore looking at his father and uncles swimming toward a boat that was to take them away. Like many Jewish families, the Vainer’s managed to escape their home in the beginning of October 1943 and hide in a farmhouse until a boat was arranged to take them to Sweden. But their hopes of sailing together were disrupted, and little Freddy felt that he would never see his father again. The family were reunited about a week later and went on to stay and work in Sweden until their return to Denmark. Later on, influenced by this experience, Freddy became a doctor and has been active for many years in public health and the Jewish community of Copenhagen. Silja and Freddy have been married for 62 years and have 3 children, 11 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. They feel that their family is a triumph over the Nazis. Silja, who has been an educator all her life, has a strong message she conveys to young people whenever she tells her story: You can choose to do good, or you can choose to turn your back. But know that each and every one can make a profound difference in another person's life.

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עקבו אחרינו

תודה רבה! נחזור אליך בהקדם

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