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Arjeh Kurzweil

“This is a very important story because it is an outstanding event”

Writer: Christina Damgaard Andersen

Photographer Credit: Nissim Salam

One evening during the first week of October 1943, 11 year-old Arjeh, his little brother and their father laid down on the gravel on the beach of Humlebæk waiting for their transport to Sweden, in order to save their lives. Born in Copenhagen in 1931, Arjeh had to flee his home after the Nazis launched an action against the Danish Jews. They hid in the dark basement of a summer house waiting for a fisherman's boat to smuggle them to Sweden. Arjeh’s parents had decided to escape separately so that in case the Germans came, the entire family wouldn’t be captured. Arjeh’s first attempt to cross to Sweden failed after the Germans arrived and they were forced to turn back. Their second escape attempt succeeded. Arjeh, his little brother and father arrived first at Ven (an island in the territory of Sweden) and then in Sweden, later followed by his mother and sisters. The family moved to a refugee camp for Orthodox Jews where they stayed for two years before returning to Denmark after its liberation. When asked why it is important to remember the events of October 1943, Arjeh responds: “This is a very important story because it is an outstanding event. The majority of the Jewish population, six million Jews in Europe, were killed. This small country, Denmark, due to the education of its citizens for humanity and democracy, stood up as one person and guarded their Jewish citizens.” Today 91 year-old Arjeh, retired professor, after teaching for over 55 years at the Bezalel Academy of Arts, lives in Jerusalem and has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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