Duckwitz Georg Ferdinand

Publié le par Roger Cousin

Duckwitz Georg Ferdinand Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz (September 29, 1904, Bremen – February 16, 1973) was a German attache who warned the Danish Jews about their intended deportation in 1943. It is estimated that he prevented the deportation of 95% of Denmark's Jews in the resulting rescue of the Danish Jews. Duckwitz was born on September 29, 1904, in Bremen, Germany to an old patrician family in the Hanseatic City. After college, he began a career in the international coffee trade. In the 1930s Duckwitz was a businessman trading with Scandinavian countries. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and worked for Alfred Rosenberg's foreign policy office but eventually left to work for the Hamburg America Line shipping company. In 1939 the Third Reich assigned him to the German embassy in Copenhagen as a maritime attache. He died in 1973.

After 1942, Duckwitz worked with the Nazi Reich representative Werner Best, who organized the Gestapo. On September 11, 1943, Best told Duckwitz about the intended roundup of all Danish Jews on October 1. Duckwitz travelled to Berlin to attempt stopping the deportation through official channels. That failed and he flew to Stockholm two weeks later, ostensibly to discuss the passage of German merchant ships. While there, he contacted Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson and asked whether Sweden would be willing to receive Danish Jewish refugees. In a couple of days, Hansson promised them favourable reception.

Back in Denmark on September 29, Duckwitz contacted Danish social democrat Hans Hedtoft and notified him of the intended deportation. Hedtoft warned the head of the Jewish community C.B. Henriques and the acting chief rabbi Dr. Marcus Melchior, who spread the warning. Sympathetic Danes in all walks of life organized a mass escape of over 7000 Jews over the sea to Sweden. Duckwitz, apparently assuming that he had done everything he could and possibly fearing exposure to Gestapo, went back to his official duties. After the war, Duckwitz remained in the German foreign service. In 1955-1958 he served as West German ambassador to Denmark and later as the ambassador to India. On March 21, 1971, the Israeli government named him Righteous Among the Nations and included him in the Yad Vashem memorial.

Publié dans Diplomates

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