War and Peace
The present solidarity and dynamics of the Sound region is not a matter of course. For almost a thousand years Sweden and Denmark has fought over the borders between the two states and over the reign of the Baltic. In the 17th and 18th century it was particularly the nationality of the Scanian countries, which was the cause of conflict. Countless wars, peace treaties and diplomatic efforts, where the big powers of that time interfered and created the borders, we know today.
|The Sound region has for centuries been the arena for a number of bloody wars between Denmark and Sweden.
However the period after 1720 has been marked by a peaceful development between the two sister countries.
Via the text icon a mini guide to the whole theme appears. In the left menu you will find elaborations and perspectives.
You return to the mini guide when You click on the title of the theme.
However, the 20th centuries´ decision to form the Europe of regions has in many ways made a rigid perception of these borders much more flexible.
In the brief survey below you can inform yourself of the main points in the historic development and in the left menu you can see a more detailed historic explanation.
The Conquests of the Viking Age and the Unification of Denmark
From the Sound region fierce attacks against the areas around the North Sea were made. Written sources thus tell of an attack on the monastery Lindisfarne, an English island outside Northumberland. Almost a hundred years later (880) we also know that the area north of the Thames was established and recognized as a Viking dominion; the Danelaw. In the period large conquest expeditions were made against the Frankish Empire (Normandy)
In the 1000th century the Scandinavian control of the Dane law desisted, but in 1013 the Danes regained power, when Swein Forkbeard conquered England. His son, King Canute took over this North Sea reign, which lasted until 1042. The dream of a continued Danish North Sea reign was shattered for good when the Normans conquered England in 1066.
In Denmark Harald Bluetooth unified, by way of a number of successful attacks, the four main land areas, Jutland, Funen, Zealand and Scania which contemporary sources refer to as Denmark.
Viking Ship with Soldiers
The period 1050-1200 had bloody civil wars and the efforts to establish supremacy in te Baltic. The internal conflicts were mainly power struggles between magnates and the royal power, but also between the royal power and the church.
During Absalon´s time as archbishop (1177-1201) the royal power and the church had a common interest in fighting the Wends, who often attacked the areas in the Sound region – in their home countries. These were heathen societies and the attacks were therefore named crusades.
The successful attacks and conquests culminated with the conquest of the island Rügen and Estonia.
Valdemar on crusade against Rügen
The Crusade Against Rügen 1169
Times of Crises and Conflicts
In the 13th century the collaboration between the royal power and the church ended. At the same time the magnates came into conflict with the royal power. Under Erik Menved an expensive and aggressive foreign policy was pursued, especially against Northern Germany and during the reign of his successor Christoffer 2. almost all of Denmark was pawned. The Scanian countries were left for Sweden, but were reunited with Denmark in the reign of Valdemar Atterdags in 1360, where all of Denmark once again became a unified realm.
The competition and the conflicts in the North German trade league, the Hanseatic League, led to the formation of the Kalmar Union under Queen Margrethe.
The introduction of the Sound Dues and the conflicts with the Hanseatic Leagues led to unrest among the Swedish mountain men. The Engelbrekt rebellion in 1434 spread all the way to Scania and caused the dethroning of Erik of Pomerania.
The union enemies in Sweden tasted blood and the union could not be upheld in the long run.
Kärnan in Helsingborg
The Goose Tower
Denmark – the Big Power
Christian 2´s was defeated against Sweden, who left the union in 1523. The king was dethroned and the crown was taken over by Frederik 1. After his death in 1533 civil war broke out in Denmark, Grevens fejde (The Count´s feud). When the feud ended, Frederik 1´s son, Christian 3. took over the throne in 1536. Denmark was a North European big power at the time, and had full control over the entrance to the Baltic.
Sweden, who had undergone a positive development, felt boxed in by Denmark and this created serious conflicts.
The Seven Year war (1563-70) became a trial of strength between the old big power, Denmark and the upstart, Sweden. However, Denmark´s position didn´t change.
Sweden Felt Fenced-in
Power Change in the North
During the 17th century the division between Denmark and Sweden culminated. The Kalmar War, the Horn War, Karl 10th Gustav´s war and the Scanian War were violent encounters, which particularly hit the population in Zealand and Scania.
You could claim that the Horn war via the peace in Brömsebro meant a power change in the North. After this war Sweden took over the role as the big power in the North. The great catastrophe for Denmark was the loss of the Scanian countries at the Roskilde peace treaty after the Karl 10th Gustav´s war. The Scanian war could be looked upon as a rematch, but the attempt to get Scania back failed.
The Danes´ last attempt to regain the Scanian countries was done the Great Nordic war in the beginning of the 18th century. But after the battle of Helsingborg in 1710, Denmark had to accept that the Sound had become the new border between Denmark and Sweden.
Karl X Gustav at Storebælt
The Peace in Roskilde
The Battle of Lund 1676
Message of the Victory of Magnus Stenbock
After the Great Nordic War people as well as the landscape on both sides of the Sound had been ravaged by the many wars and great efforts were made to create more efficient agriculture and forestry in Scania and Zealand.
Towards the end of the 18th century an attempt was made to create a friendlier atmosphere between the two countries. For example the Swedish king Gustav 3. made a state visit to Denmark.
Gustav III at Fredensborg
A Time of Reconciliation
Denmark and Sweden took opposite sides in the Napoleonic wars and Denmark was forced to give up Norway. In spite of this conflict situation at the beginning of the century, the century still held a strengthening of the peaceful and friendly connections between Denmark and Sweden. A very active movement was created, the Scandinavism, which advertised a Danish-Swedish union. Although this did not succeed, a number of peaceful and fruitful contacts were made, not least among the students on both sides of the Sound.
Three flags, but one people
Karl XV and Frederik VII
Students´ meeting in 1845
The First World War
The beginning of the 20th century had hopes for a peaceful time in Europe. But around 1914 the First World War broke out. The Scandinavian countries were united in a declaration of neutrality and the countries succeeded in staying out of the war. But the war still had an effect on Scandinavia; Denmark as well as Sweden made large sums by trading with the warring countries.
Three Nordic Kings 1914
The Mining of the Sound
The Second World War
The Second World War became a much more tangible experience in the Sound region, as Denmark was occupied by Germany. With that Scania became a neighbour to the war. The Danish Jews became a particularly threatened group from October 1943. But forces on both sides of the Sound were able to ferry the Jews across to Sweden, where they found refuge until the liberation in May 1945.
Den 9. april 1940
The Lights in Helsingborg
The Sabotage Against the Coast Railway
The Escape Across the Sound
Assistant Chief Constable in Helsingborg Carl Palm
Liberation and Peace
On the evening of May 4th 1945 you could hear that the Germans had surrendered in Denmark and everywhere people crowded happily in the streets. The Danish Brigade in Sweden had been assembled in Helsingborg and was ferried across the Sound the next day to Elsinore, where they i triumphal progression drove through Stengade to Copenhagen.
After the war the good contacts between Denmark and Sweden were revived. The post war time has been marked by an intensification of the traffic between the countries benefiting culture, trade and feeling of belonging. A feeling of belonging, which momentarily are forgotten, at the yearly football matches!
Elsinore May 5th 1945.
Viking Age and the Unification
|By the end of the 970´s King Harald conquered Zealand and parts of Scania. Then he built the large ring castle Trelleborg in Zealand. The castle has been dated to around the year 978. In Scania it seems to have been the Sound coast and the south coast, which were conquered.
In the beginning of the 980´s the great slave revolt erupted at the Baltic coast.
The period in Nordic history, which involves the youngest phase of the Iron Age, is called The Viking Age. The period is characterized by cultural assent with close cultural connections between the Nordic countries, for instance in areas like mythology, building style and decoration.
The beginning of the period is marked by a violent expansion over geographic areas. Many factors have played a part. A steep rise in population in the original Viking countries, i.e. Norway, Denmark and Sweden, probably plays an important part. A change in the heathen religion during the 6th century towards more martial gods could be another. The martial ideal is evident in the fact that when a man fell in battle immediately was sent to Odin´s residence, Valhalla. Another factor has probably been the highly developed Nordic naval architecture and the introduction of the sail.
By the end of the Viking Age the Christian religion advances heavily in Scandinavia. Early on the European missionaries had gone north, but now they were supported by the domestic kings and magnates. Norway and Jutland was Christianized in the first wave because of these areas´ close proximity to the Christian countries. Norway had close contact to England. Through the conquests of Harald Bluetooth in the 970´s and the foundation of what was to become a united Danish realm, Christianity was introduced, probably by force. From Scania and Norway the new doctrine spread to Västergötland, Östergötland and Småland and by the middle and the end of the 12th century the main areas around the lake Malaren and Uppland were Christianized.
The Viking Age is said to have started with an attack on the monastery Lindisfarne in England in the year 793. Certainly it is not possible to name the start of a period by one of the first attacks in Europe. If anything this implies that you have become so powerful that you can extend your sphere of interest far beyond the sea. This year does not comply either with the archaeological material. In the early 8th century we see an increase in rich graves here. In Bornholm, for instance, excavations have revealed incredible magnificent graves from this period. To date the beginning of the Viking Age back to the 8th century is probably not far off.
When did the Viking Age end then? There have been many different years to choose from. The problem is that the Viking Age has never existed. The period is just a latter-day invention designed to divide up the past in smaller and easily understandable periods. The Battle of Hastings in England in 1066 is thought by many to be a good end, while other more vaguely mention the year 1050, when the Danish royal power was forced to give up their attempt to conquer England.
However the problem is that the Battle of Hastings definitely isn’t a memorable year for the happenings here in Scandinavia. Instead we should choose the year 1103. In this year Lund became diocese for the entire North, when the archbishop I Bremen/Hamburg was forced to divide up his power. In this year Christianity was definitely introduced and with it the European cultural heritage.
We don’t know when the reign of Harald Bluetooth began. His father, Gorm, was hostile towards the Christians. However, in hear 948 three bishops were ordained in Jutland. This signifies that Harald at this time perhaps had taken over after his father.
Harald Bluetooth was married to Tofa, the daughter of a Wendish prince. Only a rune stone from Sønder Vissinge in Denmark provide information about Tofa: ” Tofa, Mistivoj’s daughter, Harald the Good, the bride of Gorm’ s son, set up this monument for his mother.”
Harald had the children Sweyn Forkbeard, who became a Danish king later on, Håkon, who ruled in Semland, Tyra, who was first married to the Swedish king Styrbjørn and later to the Norwegian king, Olav Trygvasson, and Gunhild, who was married in England. Adam of Bremen also mentions the son Iring, whom Harald had sent to England, but who had been killed there. It is also said that the king had other wives besides Tofa. Adam mentions for instance Gunhild and Saxo relates at the end of the 12th century that the king had married Gyrid, Styrbjørn´s sister.
Harald´s father in law Mistivoj had adopted the Christian faith and in the year 968 he had sanctioned the establishment of the Episcopal residence in Oldenburg. Mistivoj held on to Christianity and died in the monastery Bardowiek. Harald´s marriage to Tofa must have taken place in the 960´s. In the year 974 his son Sven is said to have been a small child. Perhaps it in connection with this marriage that Harald is baptized
Harald Bluetooth formed an alliance through his wife with a Wendish prince. The purpose of the alliance could have been to secure Harald´s expansion plans in Scandinavia and perhaps in England. In the 960´s the battle of Norway seems ho have become topical. Adam of Bremen writes in the year of 1070:
”Harald expanded his domain on the other side of the ocean to the Norwegians and the Angles. In Norway Hakon reigned and when the Norwegians had dethroned him because of his reckless behaviour, Harald reinstated him by way of his authority and made him conciliatory towards the Christians.”
In order to rule over England as well as Norway, and especially the Oslo inlet it was necessary to have a large fleet. It is not unreasonable to view the building of the enormous Aggersborg at Limfjorden as naval base for this conquest. The myths relate how the Norwegian king Harald was brutally murdered and how Harald Bluetooth later sailed to Norway with the Norwegian Hakon Jarl and an enormous fleet. This is supposed to have happened around the year 970.
When the German emperor Otto I died in the year 973, the Danes rebelled against the German suzerainty in Hedeby in Southern Jutland. Harald Bluetooth was supoorted in the fight by his Norwegian ally, Hakon Jarl. According to Snorre Sturlason, Hakon Jarl later crossed the Sound and burned and ravaged on both sides of the Sound on his way back to Norway. This information is important. If it is true it indicates that Zealand and Scania hadn´t yet been conquered by King Harald.
By the end of the 970´s King Harald conquered Zealand and parts of Scania. Then he built the large ring castle Trelleborg in Zealand. The castle has been dated to around the year 978. In Scania it seems to have been the Sound coast and the south coast, which were conquered.
In the beginning of the 980´s the great slave revolt erupted at the Baltic coast. It is all said to have been a heathen counter attack on the Christians. In Denmark Harald´s son, Sweyn, tried to take over. Adam writes:
”Suddenly a rebellion started, the Danes renounced Christianity, made Sweyn king and declared war on Harald… In this miserable war Harald and his supporters were defeated. The king himself was wounded and fled the battle, boarded a ship and he managed to escape to the society in the land of the slaves, which is called Jumne.”
King Harald died of his wounds here and was taken, according to Adam, back to Denmark by his soldiers, where he was buried in the church I Roskilde, which he had built on the honour of the Holy Trinity. Harald must have died in the year 985 or 986.
Danmark´s Birth Certificate
The War Harbour in Foteviken
In the Sound area Foteviken on the Scanian Sound coast forms a strategic situated natural harbour very likely for the Scanian war fleet. In the inlet´s mouth towards Høllviken they built an almost 300 metres long obstruction of stone and wood under the water. Only a small opening in the middle made it possible for a ship to sail through.
The obstruction at the mouth of Foteviken was found and partly examined in the beginning of the 1980´s. The place has been marked on a map drawn by hand as early as the 1680`s and was named ” Stiigan ”. The name alludes to the many wooden posts, which have been hammered down here. A year ring dating suggests that the construction may have been begun in the time of Harald Bluetooth and finished later. Later on stone was used to extend the obstruction. On the other side of the obstruction they had to row the ship almost a kilometre south in the deep channel, which runs in the otherwise shallow inlet. Finally they had to round a synthetic lake, before they reached the basin, which probably was here. Opposite the basin was the royal estate with a smaller chapel and the village. However, there have been no excavations in the exciting Viking Age environment.
Viking Ship with Soldiers
Civil War and Crusade
|At the end of the 12th century the church and the king started a close collaboration. Valdemar the Great and and Bishop Absalon carried out a crusade against the heathen Wends in North Germany.
The King´s Officials
The long reign of King Niels from 1104-34, marks a consolidation period, where the church and royal power mutually fortify their position in the society. The royal power seems not to challenge the magnates, but extends its positions by appointing officials, among others a chamberlain, who was to take care of the financial circumstances and monetary matters in the realm, and later the king´s chancellor, who was his personal secretary. Incidentally this position was reserved for the bishop in Roskilde.
For the operation of the churches a tithe is introduced on production around 1125, which is allotted to the church and the clergy and this marks a step in the direction of the financial integration of the church into the medieval society, which is taking shape.
The military functions are separated and are transferred to the army and its officers. The duty of the men of the realm to volunteer for the defence of the nation goes back the Viking Age, but the arrangement is now modernised. The king´s housecarls of magnates are changed into a circle of local officials, or ombudsmen, which took care of the local administration. Larger units were managed by the king´s earl, magnates like for instance Skjalm Hvide, who was earl of Zealand. In Scania the king had a special official, or governor, the “gælker”.
The Bastrup Tower
The Battle of Fotevik
The Battle of Fotevik, June 4th 1134 signified the end of the long reign of King Niels. The battle is described as one of the most bloody in medieval Denmark. The cause was a long conflict between the descendants of Svend Estridsen (1047-74), about who was to succeed King Niels on the throne.
King Niels, who was the son of Sven Estridsen, landed with his son Magnus and a great army in Fotevik in the south-western part of Scania, in order to settle accounts with his closest rival, Erik Emune, who was the son of King Niels´ brother, Erik Ejegod. Erik Emune was supported by the archbishop in Lund, Asser, as well as by a mercenary German army of approximately 300 riders. It is believed that this was the first time a cavalry was used in Denmark.
The result was that King Niels´ army was destroyed, which had catastrophic consequences for the political stability in Denmark. Magnus, the son, fell and King Niels only just escaped. Three weeks later he was murdered by dissatisfied citizens in Slesvig. Among the fallen was a large part of the Danish administration, among them 5 bishops and around 60 clergymen. It is not known how many of the rank and file was killed. The Battle of Fotevik is described as early as 1138 in the Roskilde Chronicle and somewhat later by Saxo.
The Roskilde Chronicle
King Valdemar the Great and Absalon
King Valdemar the Great appointed his childhood friend Absalon (who belonged to the Hvide family) bishop in Roskilde in 1158. He did this although Absalon still was not thirty years old, which was necessary to become a bishop. With this a cooperation was established and the good relationship betwen the church and the royal power was revived.
The Expedition to the Wendish Coast
In 1159 Valdemar and Absalon went on an expedition to the Wendish coast. Wendish raids had for a long time ravaged the Danish coast. The Danish attack on the Wendish was in reality also a raid and not a crusade, which was what they said.
The Crusade Against Rügen
The Crusade Against Rügen
Crises and Conflicts
|The royal power was strengthened in the period with the confiscation of the church´s property at the Reformation in 1536. Class struggle between the king, the nobility and the peasants, which culminated in connection with the Count´s Feud 1534-36, makes the period until around 1550 stagnant. The royal power entrenches itself behind new fortress-like castles, e.g. Malmøhus.
Deteriorating Conditions for the Productions
Up to the 14th century Europe had experienced a strong upturn with population increase, new cultivations and flourishing trade and shipping. In the 14th century dark clouds gathered and a marked deterioration began. In the end of the 13th century they had terminated new cultivations and it began to become difficult to provide labour for the estates. Reasons for the decline may have been that the exploitation had reached a natural level, because the population was reduced. The market was saturated. In addition it is to be supposed that the great cultivation had brought with it a marked clearing of forest with had resulted in erosion and sand drift.
Climate changes (falling temperatures) also resulted in periods of crop failures. It was a general ecological crisis.
The Political Crisis
The crisis involved a diminishment of the population, changes in the structure of the population, but also changes in the power structure. The king continued to be the head of the realm, but his exertion of power, had to take place in cooperation with the aristocracy. The noble magnates strengthened their position, when the principalities were inherited.
The bishops´ fiefs also wanted sovereignty and the started a number of conflicts especially between the archbishops Jacob Erlandsson and Jens Grand.
At the same time Erik Menved led a very aggressive policy and he strengthened the fortifications in the kingdom. This was evident in the Sound region, where a number of castles were renovated or built.
The old circular defence tower in Helsingborg was exchanged for the square Kärnan. This tower construction became a massive and impenetrable castle. The walls were more than 4 metres thick and the tower´s height was 30 metres. It had to be able to withstand the art of war of the times. Falsterbohus was also rebuilt and this castle also had a square tower. The rebuilding of these two castles started around 1310. Falsterbohus took over the tasks of the Skanør Castle and Helsingborg and Kärnan developed into the crown’s most important fortification in Scania. Erik Menved also expanded the Lindhold Castle in Southern Scania. This castle also had a square tower.
In Bornholm Hammershus is gradually developed into the largest castle in the North. In Vordingborg a castle complex is built to the defence of the country´s south border and in Kalundborg in in West Zealand the old fortification of Esbern Snare is enlarged. Finally in Valdemar Atterdag´s time (1340-1375) an administrative centre with a central castle is built in Gurre in North Zealand.
Kärnan in Sections
The Interior of Kärnan
The Goose Tower
The Castle Hill
Weakened Royal Power
The expansion policy and the military expansion was dearly bought and Erik Menved´s pledging almost led to the dissolution of the kingdom under his successor Christofer II. The royal power weakened and the bad economy and the pledging continued. It went so far that the Holsteiner counts Gerhard of Rendsborg and Johan af Plön had the real power in Denmark. Johan possessed large parts of Zealand, Scania, Blekinge, Halland and Lolland. In Scania the economy was tolerable thanks to the Scanian market, but here they were dissatisfied with Johan of Plön´s pro-German rule. The result was that the archbishop in Lund, Karl Eriksen, began a campaign among the Scanian magnates, which led to the election of the Swedish king Magnus Eriksson as king in Scania at a meeting in Kalmar in 1332.
After this Swedish troops went into Scania and a peace was made with Johan. The Scanian parliament then accepted Magnus as their king and Magnus took over Johan´s pledge, paid 34000 mark in silver and could then call himself king of Sweden, Norway and Scania. 10000 mark of the pledge was for the Helsingborg castle. The pledge included Scania, Blekinge and Ven. These areas were thus united with Sweden from 1332.
In 1341, the year after Valdemar Atterdag had become king of Denmark, even southern Halland was handed over to Sweden.
The Conflict with the Hanseates
Valdemar succeeded in rebuilding Denmark and in 1360 Scania, Halland and Blekinge could be reunited with the Danish kingdom. This took place after a long siege of Helsingborg Castle.
Valdemar thus strengthened the Danish kingdom and the result was that the Hanseatic towns felt threatened. Several Hanseatic towns made an alliance with Sweden and Norway. The Swedish king Albreckt of Mecklenburg and the Hanseatic towns carried out a conquest against Scania in 1368. Peace was made in 1370 and Denmark kept Scania, but the Hanseates took over Falsterbo, Skanör, Malmö and Helsingborg. In addition the Danes were forced to give up 2 thirds of the income from the Scanian market.
The Kalmar Union
The daughter of Valdemar Atterdag, Margrethe succeeded in skilfully establishing a three state union between Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 1397. The agreement was signed in Kalmar. The background was that Sweden was dissatisfied with the pro-German policy of Albreckt of Mecklenburg, at the same time as Denmark had great problems with the Hanseates. A strong Nordic union, The Kalmar union, was to become the prescription against these problems.
Erik of Pommern
The Expansion of Market Towns
The Scanian market lost more and more importance and the centre of gravity of the trade was moved from Skanør and Falsterbo to Malmo and Copenhagen. One idea behind of the Kalmar Union was that a united North would better withstand The Hanseates and king Erik of Pommern (1412-39) thus led a policy, which would strengthen the market towns of the Sound region. Several towns were given market towns rights, Helsingborg in 1414 and Elsinore in 1426. In addition Landskrona was founded in 1413, first of all to trade with Holland and England.
The Kalmar Union
The coronation of Erik of Pomerania
Erik of Pommern and the Sound Duty
One idea behind of the Kalmar Union was that a united North would better withstand The Hanseates and king Erik of Pommern (1412-39) thus led a policy, which would strengthen the market towns of the Sound region. Several towns were given market towns rights, Helsingborg in 1414 and Elsinore in 1426. In addition Landskrona was founded in 1414, first of all to trade with Holland and England.
In 1429 the Sound duty was introduced, which was to compensate for the lost income form the Scanian market. It was natural that the charging of the duty was placed in the narrowest part of the Sound and therefore the fortification Krogen was built in Elsinore.
Competition and Conflicts
But it was not only the local trade that was interesting. Even foreign merchants played a big part, especially in Elsinore. The competition with the Hanseatic towns continued, but new players entered the scene, for instance the Dutch, who had the same privileges and the Hanseates in 1490.
The Danish policy of concentrating the efforts on the market towns and trying to outcompete the Hanseatic towns became costly and brought with it increases of taxation among the peasants. Sweden reacted most violently. Here the mountain men (part farmer, part mine owner) lost great income in connection with the boycott of the Hanseates, as the possibilities of the sale of iron products lessened.. The result was that an uprising started under the leadership of the Swede Engelbreckt Engelbrecktsson.
The rebellion spread to large parts of Sweden and Erik of Pommern felt threatened. He sent a Scanian troop against Engelbreckts´s troops in southern Halland. But the Scanians went over to Engelbreckt´s side and made peace with him. In 1436 they refused to pay a tax, which Erik of Pommern demanded. The Scanians once again showed their dissatisfaction by taking the side of the Swedish rebels. This was a contributing cause to the fact that Erik was dethroned as a union king and had to leave the North.
Power Struggle in Denmark – The Count´s Feud
Denmark´s king after the dethronement of Christian 2.s in 1523, Frederik I., had given the growing Lutheranism his cautious support, even though he had promised the Catholic bishops in his strict coronation charter to fight all “heresy”. After the death of Frederik I.s in 1533 the bishops refused to recognize his son, Christian as the king. Mostly because he had openly embraced Lutheranism and had introduced it in the areas in Schleswig, with which his father had endowed him. The citizens of Malmo and Copenhagen wanted to reinstate Christian 2., but the bishops did not want that either, as he, as his cousin Christian, also was an eager follower of the teachings of Luther.
Divisions between the aristocracy and the middle classes led to a violent civil war, the so-called Count´s Feud, where the bourgeoisie and the Jutlandic peasants put Count Christoffer of Oldenburg (hence the name)in charge of Lubeck´s army against the Danish aristocracy. In this situation Sweden supported the Jutlandic aristocracy’s preferred heir to the throne Frederik´s son, Christian. And in 1534 Christian became the king of Denmark under the name Christian 3. In unison with the extremely professional general Johan Rantzau the king defeated the army from Lubeck and slaughtered the Jutlandic peasant army, led by Skipper Clement.
Christian 3. The Reformation King
|The present solidarity and dynamics of the Sound region is not a matter of course. For almost a thousand years Sweden and Denmark has fought over the borders between the two states and over the reign of the Baltic. In the 17th and 18th century it was particularly the nationality of the Scanian countries, which was the cause of conflict. Countless wars, peace treaties and diplomatic efforts, where the big powers of that time interfered and created the borders, we know today.
The End of the Union
The Nordic unification efforts, which took place under Queen Margrete´s Kalmar Union from 1397 finally ebbed out in the beginning of the 16th century, when a wave of national awakening washed over Denmark and Sweden. The first decade of the 16th century was one long confrontation between the two parties and with Christian II and The Bloodbath in Stockholm in 1520; an end was finally put to the unification efforts.
After this Sweden established herself seriously as a national state, aggravating conflicts of interests arose, but the Brömsebro Pact from 1541 prevented direct confrontation for some time to come.
Around 1560 two young, aggressive kings, Frederik II and Erik XIV had come to power. This led to direct confrontations and the Nordic Seven-Year Was of 1563-70 was the result. The concrete reasons for the outbreak were many and somewhat banal, but basically Sweden felt fenced in by the Danish-Norwegian kingdom.
For some time it had been a nuisance that export south from Småland had to go through Danish territory, and westwards Sweden only had one exposed strongpoint, Älvsborg, at the mouth of the Göta River.
Sweden Felt Fenced-in
The Siege of Elfsborg 1563
Terror against the Civilians
Älvsborg was captured by the Danes in September 1563 and had to be bought back by the Swedes in the final end. Fighting was fierce by land as well as by sea and by the end of the war both countries were almost ruined, among other things because of the cost of mercenaries, who considered looting and ravaging as part of their payment. The strategy was to avoid direct confrontations and military losses and instead let the civilian population be at the receiving end.
The civilian population in the Scanian countries and south Sweden was affected the most. Both parties in the war used terror against the civilian population to an unprecedented extent. Rönneby in Blekinge was attacked September 4th 1564 be the Swedes and king Erik said later:
“The water was coloured red as blood by the dead bodies. The enemies were so frightened, that they didn´t put up much resistance, so we killed them like pigs, and the town lost more than two thousand men, besides the women and children the Fins killed”.
In 1565 Denmark used a blockade of the Sound as a weapon in the war and thus created dangerous enemies. Sweden was self-sufficient with foods, but especially Holland was deeply dependant of corn supplies from the Baltic countries and was severely struck. Famine broke out in the country and Holland and Spain contemplate a war declaration on Denmark. In addition the Sound Duty was increased significantly in 1567. The income from this increased in one year from 45.000 rix-dollar in 1566 to 132.000 the following year, but Frederik II´s 3000 mercenaries cost 150.000 rix-dollar – a month!
September 13th 1570 a peace treaty was signed in Stettin, which tried to take mediation in future conflicts into account.
The Battle of the Sound
Swedish ships in the Sound
War and City Plans
Around the year 1600 the Dutchmen were responsible for around 80 % of the yearly ship tonnage through the Sound. Thus it was of vital importance to maintain good relations with the Dutchmen. However the perpetual increase of the Sound Duty and crises situations, where ships were arrested was a thorn in the side of the Dutch and other shipping nations.
Especially the relationship with Sweden was problematic. The Swedish economy flourished with export of raw materials like iron, minerals, wood for ship building and agricultural goods from the southern areas, but Sweden felt fenced in by the Danish Baltic Sea empire.
The Kalmar War 1611-13
The Danish and Swedish chancellors prevented further confrontations for a time, but the ambitious Danish king, Christian IV (1588-1648) aspired to “propagate, improve and enhance the state of the country”, as it was stated in the coronation charter that he had to sign at his accession. It was this passage in the coronation charter Christian used in his request to the chancellery January 31. 1611, when he referred to Swedish violations, which he would not stand for:
“...as it would bring about in posterity a bad memory in Our grave, because We have tolerated and allowed that, which a lawful king must not allow or tolerate and which We have sworn at our coronation and coronation charter and have promised by name and by seal...”
The alleged violations related to the conditions in northern Scandinavia, including Sweden´s access to the Norwegian Sea. The chancellors were reluctant, but when the king threatened to declare war in his capacity as duke of Slesvig-Holstein, he had his way.
Map from around 1600
Map Dedicated to Gustav II Adolf
Christian IV´s Flagship
The Fortress Varberg
The Siege of Kalmar
Scania was ravaged
This time too, it was mostly the civilian population that suffered. Scania was ravaged by Gustav Adolf in 1612 and he himself said:
“We have been in Scania and we have burned most of the province, so that 24 parishes and the town of Vä lie in ashes. We have met no resistance, neither from cavalry nor footmen, so we have been able to rage, plunder, burn and kill to our hearts´ content. We had thought of visiting Århus in the same way, but when it was brought to our knowledge that there were Danish cavalry in the town, we set out for Markaryd and we could destroy and ravage as we went along and everything turned out lucky for us.”
Christian IV won the Kalmar War, but this time too the civilian population paid a heavy price. After the war Christian IV started the building of a number of fortified towns, which could protect the civilian population in wartime. The market towns Vä and Åhus in north-eastern Scania were abandoned and instead the fortified town of Christiansstad was built. In Blekinge Christianobel was founded and in Halland Halmstad was fortified.
At the peace in Knärød in 1613 Denmark took over the fortress of Elvsborg until a compensation of 1.000.000 rix-dollars was paid. Holland´s policy was that no big power should have total control of the Baltic. Therefore the Danish victory led to the signing of a Swedish-Dutch defence alliance in The Hague in 1614.
The Peace in Knærød 1613
The Swedish Instrument of Debt
The increasing central governing meant that a number of new towns were founded, often for military reasons. The most prominent became Kristianstad in northwestern Scania. The market towns Vä and Åhus were shut down and they built an entirely new town, which better could withstand the attacks of the Swedes in the area. Dutch experts were called in and in 1614 they started to build a town with perpendicular streets surrounded by fortified bastions.
The town also had a magnificent church, the Trinity Church, which is considered one of the main works of the Christian IV period. It was built in the renaissance architecture of the time and was inaugurated in 1628.
The church has an equilateral Greek cross. There are a number of slender granite pillars, which carry a very elaborate roof construction. The opulent altar in black alabaster and white marble was made in the Netherlands. The organ is a brilliant renaissance work of art.
The Fortress Christiansstad
The Trinity Church
The Church Room
The Trinity Church
The Side Entrance
The next time Christian IV wanted to go to war was when he in 1626 involved himself in the Thirty Years´ War and that same year was defeated ignominiously at Lutter am Barenberge. This time Christian IV had gone to war in his capacity as North German duke and on his own account, that is, with a mercenary army. This ended in disaster and Denmark was now seriously weakened, whereas Sweden was victorious in the Baltic area.
By the end of the 1630´s the Danish king convinced the Chancellery and the Estates of the Realm to establish a standing army, which was financed through a considerable raise of the Sound Duty.
From 1636 to 1639 the king´s income from the Sound Duty rose from 266.000 to 620.000 rix-dollars.
In the course of the 1640´s war and recession set in. Around this time the value of the corn export was about 400.000 rix-dollar a year, the steer export was around 50.000 stk. a year, while the value of the yearly import constituted around 400.000 rix-dollar.
The Horn War 1643-45
As a reaction to the continued increase of the Sound Duty, the Netherlands entered into a mutual defence and alliance treaty with Sweden, which became disastrous, when Sweden without warning attacked Denmark in 1634 from the south. Jutland was occupied, but at first the navy prevented a total disaster. In Scania field marshal Gustav Horn began a campaign and Denmark was threatened by war on two fronts. The province was ravaged once again and the Horn War was remembered for many years the.
The united Dutch-Swedish fleet defeated the Danes at Fehmern and at the peace in Brömsebro in 1645 the Danes had to give up Gotland, Øsel, Jemtland and Herjedalen in Norway and surrender Halland to Sweden for a period of 30 years. This was the beginning to the end of the Danish Baltic reign and at the same time the prosperity of the period of Christian IV ended with his death in 1648.
Danish naval control
Sound Duty gambling
Three Fleets in the Sound 1644
Kolberger Heide 1644
The Brömsebro Stone
The Karl Gustav Wars 1657-60
In 1657 disaster struck the Danish kingdom with a vengeance. Denmark declared war on Sweden in the hope of revenging the defeat form the 1640´s, but was run down in the summer of 1657 and the following winter, when Karl X Gustav went over the ice to Zealand and approached Copenhagen. A quick peace was made in Roskilde. The peace negotiator on the Swedish side was the former Danish chancellor Corfitz Ulfeldt, who was married to Christian IV´s daughter, Eleonore Christine.
The peace terms were severe: Denmark must forever give up the Scanian countries, although paragraph 9 secured a cultural autonomy in Scania. The occupation ended with a so-called peace banquet in Frederiksborg Castle, whereupon the Swedish king went to Scania, where he inspected the captured areas.
Karl X Gustav
Crossing the Ice to Funen
Ivernæs in Funen
Karl X Gustav at Storebælt
The peace terms were severe: Denmark must forever give up the Scanian countries, although paragraph 9 secured a cultural autonomy in Scania. The occupation ended with a so-called peace banquet in Frederiksborg Castle, whereupon the Swedish king went to Scania, where he inspected the captured areas.
The Peace in Roskilde
The Vicarage in Høje Tåstrup
The Arrival at Frederiksborg Castle
The Peace Banquet
Karl X Gustav in Elsinore
Karl X Gustav is Received in Helsingborg
Karl X Gustav Arrives in Landskrona
Karl X Gustav Arrives in Malmo
Karl X Gustav Outside Christiansstad
The War continues
Six months later Karl X Gustav regretted that he did not annex all of Denmark. He occupied Zealand and captured Elsinore and Kronborg, which fell after a three-weeks´ siege.
Copenhagen was besieged, but was relieved after a naval battle in the Sound by a Dutch fleet, which had formed an alliance with Denmark. The events culminated with the storm of Copenhagen in February 1659, when the Swedish attack was repelled.
The Siege of Kronborg
The Siege of Kronborg
The Naval Battle
The Battle in the Sound
The Battle of the Sound
Slaget i Öresund
The Assault on Copenhagen 1660
The Storming of Copenhagen
Sketch of the Attack
Peace was made once again in 1660, by which Bornholm returned to Denmark and Trondhjem´s estate to Norway.
Changes in the status of Scania, Halland and Blekinge were not discussed and it was clear that Denmark´s ally, Holland and the other European big powers, did not want any changes in the relations around the Sound. The manoeuvre of the international politics was to prevent one power to control both sides of the Sound.
A later observer, Robert Molesworth noticed in 1691 that Christian IV was favoured by the Dutch war against Spain and that king Jacob I of England favoured the Danes, because of his marriage to a Danish princess. Molesworth noticed that Danish sovereignty over the Sound would correspond to Spain having invoked power over the Straits of Gibraltar and the entrance to the Mediterranean. The Sound Duty was still functioning, but the income, according to Molesworth, had dropped from 150.000 rix-dollars in 1645 to 80.000 in the 1690´s.
Axel Urup (1601-71)
The Peace Treaty 1660
The Scanian War 1675-79
The so-called Scanian War was a Danish-Norwegian war of revenge with the purpose of recapture Scania, which Denmark lost in the Karl Gustav-Wars in 1657-60.
After the death of Karl X Gustav Sweden was governed by regency headed by Gabriel De La Gardie. After the peace in Copenhagen the foreign policy was a matter of avoiding war and the guarding of the Danish border. This was to be done by a balance policy between the great power blocks of Europe.
Opposite the big power France stood a union between Austria, Holland, Spain and Brandenburg. In 1672 Sweden approached France and they formed an alliance. When the European Great War began Denmark joined Sweden´s enemies and when France succeeded in making Sweden go to war against Brandenburg, Denmark and Sweden ended up on different sides in the European conflict. When the Swedes were defeated in Swedish Pomerania, the Danes attacked Sweden seeing the opportunity to revenge the disastrous defeat in 1658.
The Dutch and Danish fleet defeated the Swedish fleet south of Øland in the summer of 1676. The Swedish battle ship Kronan, at the time the biggest warship in Europe, was sunk.
On the command of the Danish king Christian V around 15.000 men were landed in Rå south of Helsingborg and subsequently the citizens of Helsingborg pledged allegiance to the Danish king. Furthermore a Danish mayor was elected.
The Danish Invasion Fleet 1676
The Naval Battle of Øland
The Invasion Fleet on its Way to Råå
The Capture of Helsingborg
A Bloody War
The Scanian was a cruel and bloody war, which mainly took place on Scanian soil. The Danes drove the Swedes back and gained control over all of Scania except Malmo. Many Scanians joined the Danes. Violent battles were fought at Christiansstad, Halmstad, Lund and Landskrona.
The Battle of Lund was the bloodiest battle ever fought between Denmark and Sweden. The young king Karl XI led the Swedish troops. The battle turned the war in favour of the Swedes and they were able to drive the Danish troops back. At the end the Danes only held Landskrona and Helsingborg, but they were forced to face the fact that the situation was hopeless. Thousands of refugees crossed the Sound to Denmark.
The Citadel in Landskrona
The Capture of Landskrona
The Capture of Landskrona
Landskrona Surrenders to Christian V
The Siege of Christiansstad 1676
The Capture of Christiansstad
The Battle of Lund 1676
The Battle of Lund 1676
The Battle of Lund 1676
The Battle of Lund 1676
The Battle of Malmo 1677
The Battle of Landskrona 1677
The Battle of Tirups Hed, Landskrona
The Battle in Køge Bay 1677
At sea the Swedish navy had lost, but the Danish army were defeated on land.
You could say that France settled the war. Sweden´s ally, France, had the upper hand on Denmark´s ally, Holland, and made peace on behalf of Sweden too. As Holland had made up with France Denmark stood alone at the negotiations and came out of the war empty handed at the peace settlements with Sweden in Lund in 1679.
In Sweden they were not satisfied with the way France handled Swedish interests. Similarly the Danes were dissatisfied with the Dutch having abandoned them in the final phase of the war. This led to Denmark and Sweden exchanging allies. Denmark made an alliance with France and Sweden came to an accord with Holland.
After the war a political rapprochement took place between Sweden and Denmark and they formed an alliance, which was confirmed by the marriage of Carl XI and the Danish princess Ulrika Eleonora. She was taken across the Sound to a cannon salute and arrived in Helsingborg in May 1680. In Helsingborg she met with Carl XI´s mother, Hedvig Eleonora. Then they travelled through a landscape ravaged by their war to the wedding festivities in Skottorp in southern Halland, where the priest Haqvin Spegel waited to officiate at the wedding.
The Danish Princess Ulrika Eleonora
|Large||Aria sopra le Nozze di Sua Maesta il Re de Svecia (1680). Diderik Buxtehude
The young Swedish king Karl XII, who succeeded his father Carl XI, was opposed by an alliance of states, which demanded revenge after Sweden´s conquests in the 17th century. Denmark, Russia and Saxony (including Poland) were in this alliance. However at this time Sweden were well prepared. Carl XI, who had also reformed the defence, which at this time consisted of 65.000 men and 38 war ships, had built a new naval port in Karlskrona. Finally the new border with Denmark at the Sound had been fortified extensively.
In the year 1700 a Swedish army under the command of Carl XII was transported from Helsingborg and Landskrona to Humlebæk in Zealand. Copenhagen was threatened and Denmark was forced to make a separate peace.
Carl XII continued his expedition towards Russia and Poland and advanced in eastern Europe, but when the Swedish fortune of war changed in the Battle of Poltava (1709) Denmark declared war on Sweden.
The Swedes´ Landing in Humlebæk
The Bombardment of Copenhagen
The Danish Helsingborg
The Danish main forces, which included 14.000 men landed in Råå in November 1709. Helsingborg defended itself with a garrison of 360 men and a Swedish unit of 1500 men were in the area around Rå. They could not defend the town and retreated.
Frederik IV took up headquarters in alderman Schlyter´s farm in the central Helsingborg and its citizens pledged allegiance to the Danish king. In Helsingborg Danish church services were introduced a Danish almanac according to the Gregorian calendar. This involved a difference of ten days.
Herman Schlyter´s House
Magnus Stenbock in Helsingborg
The Swedish king was far away, so Magnus Stenbock, who was Scania´s general governor, organized the Swedish defence. He gathered a large army in Småland, as the Danes had entered Sweden all the way up to Karlshamn in Blekinge. Stenbock succeeded in gathering 16.000 men, who went into Scania in the end of January 1710. The Danes retreated towards Helsingborg and took up position north of town under the command of major general Rantzau.
February 28th 1710 the two armies clashed in the battle of Ringstorp outside Helsingborg, and it ended in a crushing Danish defeat, which Stenbock´s courier, Henrik Hammarberg reported to Stockholm.
Message of the Victory of Magnus Stenbock
Memorial Stone for the Battle of Helsingborg
Fortification of the Swedish Coast
Back to Denmark
In Helsingborg Danish soldiers and pro-Danes were sent back to Denmark, among them alderman Herman Schlyter and the vicar Hans Jacobsen, who had cooperated with the Danes. In connection with the escape across the Sound all the horses were killed, which made it more difficult to get the town to function again. The truth is that Helsingborg did not recover for a hundred years. It was the last time that the Danes left Scania after a war.
Carl XII:s Final Attempt
The border between Denmark and Sweden had now been definitively determined. The Swedish king returned to Sweden after his unsuccessful campaign in Eastern Europe. He governed Sweden from Lund, where he had his headquarters from 1715 to 1718. At the time the government had built fieldwork on the Sound coast, in order prevent a Danish landing attempt. The remnants of this fieldwork can be seen at Barsebäck, Rå and Mølle.
Carl XII made one final attempt to strengthen Sweden´s foreign-policy position by attacking Norway in 1718, but he was killed in a trench outside the fortress Fredriksten. Now Sweden sought peace and the North did not have a big power anymore. From having been a means of communication, the Sound had been transformed into a border, where Denmark and Sweden guarded each other.
|After 1830 the contacts across the Sound were increased. Joint scientific congresses were held and a number of large students´ meetings manifested the Scandinavian sense of community for the years to come.
A Married Royal Couple
In 1766 the Swedish King Gustav III married the Danish Princess Sofie Magdalene. Gustav visited Denmark as a crown prince as early as 1770 and as Swedish King he visited briefly in 1786. July 9th King Gustav was received at Marienlyst Castle in Elsinore, where the king had arrived at 12 o´clock. He dined accompanied by Turkish chamber music from oboists of the Royal Life Guards and oboists from Kronborg. At 6 PM he went to Hellebæk to visit the rifle factory and in the evening he returned to Sweden.
Gustav III at Fredensborg
King Gustav came back in October 1787, this time on an unannounced visit to Copenhagen. The periodical “Minerva” wrote, that every “Scandinavian “ must feel great joy over the sense of community that this visit stood for. Thus “Scandinavian” became a household word.
But the Danes were a bit worried at this latest visit, which took the court by surprise, and they feared a hidden agenda with regards to foreign policy. At the first visit the Danish king had spat in the soup and left the meal abruptly, so they feared what the autocratic, but deranged king would do or be persuaded to do. Gustav had plans to expand in the east, but Denmark had formed an alliance with Russia and in 1788 the two parties as a result of the alliance fell out with each other.
Gustav III Murdered
However, in 1792 the Swedish king was murdered during a masked ball at Stockholm’s Castle and the threat of war blew over for the time being. That same year the Danish professor Sneedorf held a lecture in the Nordic Society in London saying how important it was that the three Nordic countries united and in 1794 another federation of neutrality was signed by Denmark and Sweden. At that occasion the Danish foreign minister Bernsdorff said: “Everything that brings Denmark and Sweden closer to each other is natural; all that separates them in unjust and unnatural”.
The Napoleon War
In spite of the federation of neutrality Sweden and Denmark took different sides during the Napoleonic war and it came to minor incidents between the two parties in 1808-09 and later in 1813. After the dethroning of the Swedish King Gustav IV Adolf a Danish Prince Christian August was elected heir to the throne, but after his sudden death a former French general Bernadotte took the throne. Bernadotte converted to the Protestantism on the Swedish consulate in Elsinore and then travelled across the Sound.
The outcome of the Napoleonic wars meant that Sweden lost Finland in 1809 and Denmark lost Norway, which instead was united with Sweden in 1814. Norway’s transition to Sweden entailed that the mutual relationship was cooled down, but in the course of a few decades the contact was increased considerably among other things because of the improvement of the means of communication.
Monument in memory of Christian August
The Swedish consulate in Elsinore
The Swedish consulate in Elsinore
Bernadotte disembarks in Helsingborg
The Bernadotte Monument in Helsingborg
Revolution and Civil War 1848
When the absolute monarchy fell in Denmark in the revolution year of 1848 the possibilities of Scandinavism increased and the new king of Denmark Frederik VII, had, like his Swedish colleague, quite a different view of Scandinavism than that of their fathers. The political Scandinavism now went as far as to help with troops in the Danish-German war in 1848.
This resulted in great enthusiasm around the Sound. One example of this is that several hundred citizens from Elsinore went to Helsingborg one Sunday in May in 1848 to celebrate that Swedish troops were to land in Denmark. A great party was held with citizens of Helsingborg at the Hotel Mollberg.
The Swedish soldiers were placed in Funen, but were never actively used in the war, which ended with armistice negotiations in Malmo in the late summer of 1848. Until the end of the war Swedish troops were on guard in the winter of 1849-50.
The unification thoughts also blossomed at the Danish and Swedish court in the 1850´s and here they as far as to discuss a union under a Swedish king. Frederik VII was childless and thus it would be opportune with one king ruling Sweden-Norway and Denmark. This union would then play a greater part in European high politics. The great powers of Europe had opinions in this matter and they felt that the integrity of the Danish monarchy should be preserved. This was stated clearly at conferences held in London in 1850 and 1852.
A New Danish King
The succession in Denmark was then moved to Prince Christian of Slesvig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and his heirs. Perhaps this time – with the problems concerning Denmark’s southern border and the uncertain succession after the childless Frederik VII – was decisive when it came to a more extensive Scandinavian union. But it was missed with the passing of the Danish succession law of 1852, according to which the Glücksburger Christian IX was to succeed Frederik VII.
But many Danes had doubts about this Christian, who was to be their new king and that Frederik preferred a Swedish successor to the Danish Christian was quite clear. Oscar I as well as Frederik had planned for a union. Lively propaganda was carried through in Europe in order to make the great powers to approve of a union between the Nordic states. Many (among them Sturzen-Becker) wrote pamphlets in order to influence the European press. When Oscar I fell ill and died in 1859 the throne and the union plans were taken over by the son Karl XV.
There was an even better personal chemistry between the new Swedish king Karl XV and Frederik VII. They met on several occasions, for instance in Ljungbyhed in 1860 and in connection with the student meeting in Copenhagen in 1862 and at a great meeting in Skodsborg in 1863 and the same year also at Bäckeskog in Scania. They formed a jovial friendship and the conditions for a union seemed good. Karl, with his unassuming style was popular in Denmark as well as Sweden. He was also very generous with his promises to the Danes and gave, in connection with the meeting in Skodsborg a verbal promise that Swedish troops would support the Danish defence of its southern border, which once again was threatened by the Germans.
Karl XV and Frederik VII
Karl XV and Frederik VII
Karl XV in Elsinore
Fredensborg Castle´s Park in 1862
But the promises were broken, when the Danish-German war started in 1863. At first the king was supported by foreign minister Mandelstrøm and the Swedish envoy in Copenhagen, Hamilton, but was later overruled by the ministers of the state. The Swedish government explained that they were not going to send any troops, a decision, which went against the wishes of Karl XV. In connection with this political turbulence Frederik VII died and Christian IX became king of Denmark. The union ideas began to fade away because of the broken Swedish promises, the distrust of the Swedish government and the new Danish king’s negative attitude and Scandinavism lost ground.
Utopia or Reality?
Scandinavism was not a political program, which was to be carried through. The Scandinavists met from time to time and successively new ideas, sympathizers and symbols evolved. It started as a cultural statement in the literary circles, developed into a real sense of community with plenty of toasts and cheers among students and the middle classes. Then it evolved into a political unification idea, where the kings had far reaching union plans, which finally went to pieces because of the reality of the European higher politics.
It is open to discussion how strong the mutual will and solidarity really was. If one compares it with other contemporary unification efforts in Germany and Italy – which succeeded – it was not because the political, religious and linguistic differences were greater – on the contrary. Another question was the surrounding world, particularly the attitude of the European great powers.
Russia and Prussia did not look mildly on a united command of the Sound and thus the entrance to the Baltic – in other words the classic problem in European higher politics concerning the Sound and Baltic region. But would the European great powers have gone against the will of the people in the time of dawning liberalism?
First World War
|During the First World War the Nordic countries succeeded in staying neutral, but the warring countries made demands on the mining of the Sound. It was also possible to co-ordinate the foreign policy during the war, but afterwards there was much disagreement about the continuation of the policy of neutrality and the foreign policy collaboration.
The First World War
During the First World War the Nordic countries succeeded in staying neutral, but the warring countries made demands on the mining of the Sound. It was also possible to co-ordinate the foreign policy during the war, but afterwards there was much disagreement about the continuation of the policy of neutrality and the foreign policy collaboration.
A Neutral Skandinavia
At the outbreak of the war Denmark, Norway and Sweden declared themselves neutral in to the two big power blocks. This was partly the result of a diplomatic cooperation, which took place before the outbreak of war. As early as 1909 and 1910 joint neutrality initiatives were negotiated, and an agreement was reached in 1912. The Scandinavians´ neutrality declaration was thus well prepared and the three countries protested jointly against the English perception that all of the North Sea was to be considered war area, as well as the Germans´ mine blocade of the SOund and the Belts.
The Mining of the Sound
The Malmo Meeting
In order to strengthen the joint Nordic policy the three Scandinavian kings met at the so-called Three Kings´ Meeting with their foreign ministers in Malmo on December 18th and 19th in 1914. Malmo´s possibilities of arranging this kind of summit was at this point very limited, but with a bit of good will it was possible for the participants to be accommodated. King Christian lived at Herslow, Haakon at the widow Kockum and Gustav at the county mayor, while the foreign ministers Scavenius, Ihlen and Wallenberg lived at Hotel Kramer.
Behind a splendid setting of student singers from Lund, the waving from balconies, visits to museums and churches, the diplomatic work was in progress. The result of the meeting was a new good will for increased Scandinavian cooperation. It was obvious that the wounds from Denmark´s loss at the German border, and Norway´s liberation from Sweden, had now healed. Hjalmar Bratning wrote in his newspaper that you could now get a glimpse of “The United States of the North, being formed under free circumstances”.
Three Nordic Kings 1914
Three Bareheaded Kings
Drawing of The Monarchs
The Scandinavism Is Revived
The meeting had evidently reawakened certain Scandinavistic hopes and it was followed by more Inter Scandinavistic gatherings. In Copenhagen the prime ministers and the foreign ministers gathered in March 1916 and in Kristiania (Oslo) a ministers´ meeting was held in September that same year. All three countries had problems with violations, done by the warring countries against the neutral. Especially problematic was the question of access to the Baltic. Here Denmark as well as Sweden landed in diplomatic difficulties.
The Mining of the Sound
Germany had free passage between the North Sea and the Baltic via the Kieler Channel, but naturally they did not want England to have the same opportunity for access to the Baltic. Therefore the Germans demanded that the belts were to be blocked by mines.
The neutrality declaration form the Scandinavian countries meant that none of the sides were to be given any advantages. The Danes, who were dependent on the English, landed in a difficult situation. If the Danes refused the German demand, the Germans would mine the belts anyhow, and then there was only one thing left for the Danes to do and that was to attack Germany, which was completely hopeless. Denmark also wanted to secure its domestic navigation and in the final end, they decided to close off the belts.
The Swedish government refused the German demand for the mining of the Swedish side of the Sound, but accepted to turn off all lighthouses and light buoys in the Sound in order to make passage difficult. The Germans closed off international waters south of the Sound in order to limit access further, but there was another fairway, close to Skanör, where vessels could pass. The Germans now demanded that this fairway should be mined and the Swedes gave in in the summer of 1916. The Baltic was thus completely closed off for English vessels and almost 100 English ships were closed in in the Baltic. Only one mine free passage was left, and Swedish war ships, which were to ensure that only Swedish ships passed, guarded it.
The German fleet thus dominated the area. It had great significance for the Swedish decision that Gustav V´s queen, Victoria, had influenced the king in a pro-German direction. This was also the case with Prime Minister Hammarskjöld´s perception of the character of neutrality. He had promised Berlin that Sweden would maintain a “favourable neutrality”, while the allied had been informed of a “strict Swedish neutrality”.
The Germans tried several times to get Sweden involved in the war. Prince Max of Baden, who was related to the Swedish Queen Viktoria, took an active part in these pressure attempts. The royal couple were interested, but the government was mutually disagreeing. Foreign minister Wallenberg wanted to show more sympathy towards England and the Socialist opposition, lead by Branting, demanded strict neutrality, also towards Germany.
Sweden on the German Side
The Swedish government´s relationship to Great Britain was tense, even tenser than the relationship between Denmark and Great Britain. The Danish government had made an agreement with Great Britain about the import of goods, against the Danish guaranty that they would not be resold to Germany. The Swedish prime minister refused a similar agreement and therefore Sweden was hit by a severe shortage of goods. The shortage was especially serious in the winter of 1916-17, when Hammarskjöld received the nickname “Hungerskjöld”.
The relationship between the allied and Sweden became even more strained, when it was clear that the Swedish government had helped the Germans with the conveyance of cipher telegrams form the German government to German interests, via the Swedish foreign department. Even before this scandal was exposed a government crisis had forced the Swedish government to resign, and a conservative government took over. It held the power from March to September 1917. Then the Left won the election to the parliament’s second chamber, and a new government led by Nils Edén took over with Hjalmar Branting as minister of finance. It was a coalition government between Social Democrats and Liberals.
Scandinavia Under Economical Pressure
The total German submarine war hit both the Danish and Swedish merchant navy. When The United States entered the war in 1917, England had supplies with the help of the Americans. Convoys escorted the transports across the Atlantic and England was no more dependant on supplies from Denmark and Sweden. This threatened the Danish and Swedish economy perceptibly. The English anger at the Danish and Swedish indulgence of the Germans became expensive for the Scandinavians. Furthermore the total submarine war brought with it that the transport of goods was difficult.
All this led to the reopening of the Kogrund fairway in 1918. However, the reduced trade with the big powers in Europe led to an increase in trade between the Nordic countries. The new Swedish government worked hard to improve relations with the allied. The efforts were not entirely fruitless, first and foremost thanks to the Swedish chief negotiator, Marcus Wallenberg´s friendly relations with the British blockade minister
At the end of the war in November 1918 the trade started up again. However, the lack of raw materials was great and prices rose. This led to further demands for increased wages, and a series of strikes and violent demonstrations occurred, especially in Copenhagen. But Denmark and Sweden had gotten off cheaply from the First World War. The Nordic countries developed into stable democracies and woman suffrage was introduced all over the North.
The contacts between the European states were revived; the growing air transport diminished the distances and arms reduction negotiations and the League of Nations gave hopes for a bright future.
If the relationship between the three Nordic states immediately after the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway in 1905 had been somewhat strained, the experience from the neutrality policy resulted in a certain common platform, even though circles in Denmark had been anxiously about the Swedish-German rapprochement.
Arms Reduction and Rearmament
In Denmark the arms reduction policy became the foundation stone in the government coalition between the Social Democratic Party and the Social Liberal Party, who formed a government firstly in 1924-26 and again from 1929 to the occupation of Denmark in 1940. The relationship with Germany became the decisive factor. Could and should they resist if a big power attacked Denmark? The Social Liberals maintained that it was useless, but in the Social Democratic Party there was an increasing resistance to the arms reduction. A defence settlement between the two parties in 1937 resulted in an increase of the defence budget.
Watchdog of the North:
The Watchdog of the North
That same year a debate of a joint Nordic defence federation to the preservation of neutrality was started. In Sweden wide circles looked at a threat against Denmark and Finland as synonymous with a threat against Sweden and they started a heavy armament, which also found its way as an argument in the Danish debate. However, it was a fact that the governments of the other countries found it much to risky to enter into a defence federation with Denmark, who was so close to an obvious aggressive Germany.
The Danish Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning was clearly annoyed by the debate and in a speech in Lund in March 1937 he reacted in strong terms and rejected the role as the
“I have heard the argument that Norway, Sweden and Finland would feel insecure if Denmark does not establish a defence at the Danish southern border, a defence, which Sweden can approve of. Is this not a dangerous consideration? I do not think that any responsible man would support this. Has Denmark been given the task as watchdog or some other guard duty on behalf of the North? To my knowledge no such deal has been negotiated. From history we know that it was a widespread belief in 1864 that Swedish troops would come to Denmark´s rescue in the enforced war. Naturally nobody came”.
Second World War
|When Denmark was occupied by Germany April 9th 1940, the Germans demanded a blackout. Along the blacked out Danish side of the Sound, the lights from the neutral Helsingborg became a symbol of freedom.
April 9th 1940 Denmark was occupied by German troops. The Germans stayed in the background and the Danish government reluctantly entered into a co-operation with the occupying power until August 1943.
From 1943 there were special circumstances in the Sound region, because of the short and fast connection to Scania in the neutral Sweden, where the Swedes received thousands of Danish refugees with hospitality and solicitude.
The Occupation of Denmark April 9th 1940
On Hitler’s orders plans were worked out under the code name “Weserübung” for a military offensive against Norway. Denmark was only supposed to have been a stepping-stone for the German attack. For that purpose the Germans felt that an occupation of Eastern Jutland would be enough. But the Germans decided to occupy all of Denmark. The German General von Kaupisch were appointed leader of the operations against Denmark. A force of 40.000 men was at his command. Around April 9th they knew that something was going on, and that it was only a question of time, before Denmark was occupied too. At approximately 04.00 AM the Germans troops crossed the border in Southern Jutland. All over the country German troops were deployed and the Danish military did not have a chance. There were fights in Denmark, 11 Danish soldiers died and 20 were wounded. The German casualties were never published.
The occupation can simply be divided into two phases.
The Collaboration Phase: April 9th 1940- August 1943
It was a kind of a peace occupation, where the Germans stayed in the background. The Danish government continued, general elections were held and the Danish military, police and judicial system was still functioning.
Et højdepunkt her var Danmarks tiltrædelse af antikomintern-pagten den 25.11.1941, hvor Danmark kom i selskab med Tysklands allierede.
The Rebellion Phase: August 29th 1943-May 5th 1945
The collaboration continued officially until August 29th 1943, when the government - because of the public feeling, the Germans´ threats of death penalties for sabotage and the supposition that the Germans would lose the war - resigned and left the daily administration to their permanent secretaries. The resistance movement extended their activities and organized a “shadow Cabinet”, The Danish Liberation Council. The Germans responded by sending Danish Communists to concentrations camps in Germany, internment of the Danish military, persecution of the Jews and terror gangs. Activities, which made many flee the country.
In the Sound region the opportunities to escape were good. One of the reasons being the short and fast connection to Scania in the neutral Sweden, where the Swedes, with hospitality and solicitude, received thousands of Danish refugees. A gesture, which brought the Sound region and the two countries closer together.
The Occupation of Elsinore
The Germans arrived late in Elsinore. It was not until 6 PM on April 9th that the garrison commander in Kronborg, colonel O.H. Permin received a telephone call saying that a German advance party would arrive in town. The advance party arrived at 9 PM, accompanied by a pro-Nazi Danish policeman from Elsinore, superintendent O. Madsen. They were accommodated in the youth hostel, “Wisborg”, south of Elsinore. The late arrival meant that the Danish soldiers commanded by colonel Helge Bennike from the 11th battalion in Holbæk, without the permission of their superiors was transported to Helsingborg with the H-H-Ferries and the navy´s surveying ship “Freja”, which was stationed in Elsinore harbour. April 11th a German battalion was quartered in the cornet school in Kronborg. The battalion commander accommodated himself in Hotel Øresund in the centre of town.
Flight of Soldiers from Elsinore
Resistance and Terror in Denmark
During the autumn of 1942 small groups came into existence, who attacked the German occupation power.
In the Sound region two groupes, Kopa/Bopa and Holger Danske, firstly organized this. They were effective firghting organizations and carried out some of the biggest sabotages against the Germans and their Danish collaborators.
The Development of the Resistance
Apart from pinpricks against the Germans and their Danish camp followers (spitting and abuse) it was relatively quiet in Elsinore – as in the rest of the country in the first occupation years. But when the 109 Communists were taken from Vestre Prison to the Horserød Camp, which is only 7 kilometres west of Elsinore, it activated the local Communists.
When Eigil Larsen, the leader of the Communists in Elsinore, escaped from the Horserød Camp, an effective illegal printing of magazines were organized. The magazine “Ny Tid” became the most important illegal newspaper in North Zealand and was published throughout the occupation. Eigil Larsen was the initiator of “Ny Tid” and he found the illegal magazines very important for the resistance.
The First Train Sabotage in Denmark
The Danish Communist Party´s leader asked Eigil Larsen to organize the incipient sabotage in the Copenhagen area. This organisation was called Communist Partisans (KOPA). Eigil Larsen decided to sabotage one of the Germans´ many ammunition trains on the coast railway. Form his stay in stationmaster Engelsen´s hus in Nivå, Eigil Larsen knew the schedules and routines of the coast railway. He decided on an area in Egebæksvang Forest in Espergærde as the target for the first action. Here the trains move through a curve and by bending one of the rails it was possible, via centrifugal force, to overturn the train. At this point the organisation did not have any explosives.
Through Kristian Engelsen, Eigil Larsen came in contact with three men with the necessary physical strength and professional skills. They took care of the practical things. After a failed attempt on August 31st 1942, which was discovered by the police, the action was a success on November 6th. The coast railway was blocked for 2 1/2 days before the tracks were clear. The action caused a lot of attention and the Danish police suspected Eigil Larsen and did their best to catch him. But in vain.
The First Train Sabotage
The Sabotage Against the Coast Railway
German Railway Guard
The Escalation in 1943
In the course of 1943 the resistance in Elsinore mostly consisted of strikes in the Elsinore Shipyard and a few failed fires. The only serious sabotage action was a bombing attempt against the ship “Minden” on August 25th 1943. The bomb exploded in the hands of a 62 years old Communist saboteur. He died.
He was so badly mangled that they did not identify him until closing time. His bicycle was the only left in the bicycle rack!
When the official collaboration policy stopped in the end of August 1943 wider circles of the population were involved in the resistance. In the Elsinore area illegal escape routes to Sweden and the organisation of civilian and military waiting groups was the result.
One of the most important sabotages against the German occupation power was an efficient telephone exchange organized by Dansk Samling in Sct. Olaigade, Elsinore. For a long period of time they were able to tap into the communication to and from the Gestapo headquarters in Wisborg. The leader of this action was a German refugee.
The Gestapo Headquarter
The Military Waiting Groups
With the Russian victory in the Soviet Union in the course of 1943, the English and American landing in Sicily and the military breakdown of Italy – and the internment of the Danish military August 29th 1943, things had changed. BOPA (earlier KOPA) had intensified the sabotages and the Danish government no longer dared take the responsibility of their collaboration with the Germans. Mainly because they demanded the death penalty for the saboteurs. The government left the daily administration of Denmark to the permanent secretaries.
The Cooperation with England
The resistance movement´s connection to England was close and from here the disarmed Danish army was ordered to cooperate with BOPA. This resulted in cooperation with the newly established Danish Liberation Council, who inserted officers in a number of military town leaderships (M-groups) all over the country. Here they should participate in coordinating the cooperation between the Conservative, Social Democratic and Communist resistance and the military. They were supposed to assist the English if they invaded Denmark and establish bridgeheads for the Danish army in Sweden, The Danish Brigade, when it arrived in Denmark.
The Military Waiting Groups in Elsinore
In Elsinore it was the naval captain Jens Westrup, who should take on the difficult task of establishing cooperation between the different groups. In Elsinore these consisted of the Communists, the Social Democrats, the Conservatives, Dansk Samling and the military. It was a complicated structure, but all M-groups in Elsinore were affiliated with certain political groupings.
The Military Waiting Groups in Elsinore
The reticence of the German occupation power in Denmark changed from January 1944. Hitler called a meeting with the German leaders in Denmark on December 30th 1943. He demanded that for every killed German or pro-German helpers, five Danes were to be killed.
Organized Terror Corps
In order to make sure of this he sent R.O. Bovensiepen to Denmark in January 1944. He terrorized via the Schalburg and Hipo Corps the Danish population for the next 18 months with murder and arson. The Schalburg Corps was named after a Danish officer, who fell on the Eastern Front in 1942. He was born in Russia and had experienced the Russian Revolution. He was an ardent anti-Communist, participated actively in the Finnish Winter War and joined the SS in 1940. He lived on the North Coast in Hellebæk and the Schalburg Corps stayed in Hellebækgård, the present boarding school in Hellebæk.
The Peter Group and the Brøndum Gang
Besides the two terror corps the Germans used smaller groups of Danish and German terrorists like for instance the Peter Group, the Brøndum Gang and the Loretzen Group. The carried out more than 200 murders in Denmark.
The tasks of the terror groups were murders and terror bombings as retaliation for the resistance movement´s sabotages. Most often 3-4 members assisted in murders and more at terror bombings. The German security police´s files of anti-German Danes chose the victims of the so-called tit-for-tat murders, but many were chosen at random.
The Peter Group worked in secret. If the Danish police accosted the members, they were to say nothing and the Germans would pick them up.
Henning Brøndum and Bothilsen-Nielsen, who terrorized all over Denmark, led the Brøndum Gang.
The Brøndum Gang
The Lorentzen Gang
|Large||The Brøndum Gang takes a coffee break between interrogations
The Murder in Skotterup
In the Elsinore area a number of innocent people were murdered. The Brøndum Gang murdered the chairman of the houseowners´ association engineer Snog-Kristensen, Copenhagen. The murder took place on the beach in Skotterup in front of one of Gestapo´s residences, Villa Rosenlund in Snekkersten.
The Murder of Otto Bülow
The murder of sculptor Otto Bülow in Elsinore became the most dramatic. It was a typical tit-for-tat murder. The background was a tragic and unfortunate incident in Elsinore Shipyard. A German immigrant had been liquidated here by the resistance movement on the suspicion that he had informed on 14 Communists in Elsinore. Later it was established that this was not the case.
Immediately the Brøndum Gang arrived in Elsinore and they shot Otto Bülow in revenge. The whole town participated in the funeral of the popular and eccentric artist.
Apart from these murders the terror groups also lit fires in Gilleleje Seaside Hotel, Hulerød Seaside Hotel, and on July 27th the Hillerød train was blown up in Lillerød Station. Three were killed and fifteen were wounded. In Copenhagen and Århus the terror groups were even more violent. But it must be noted that Hitler´s demand for five murdered Danes for every German was not carried out. The resistance movement thus liquidated approximately 400 Danish camp followers, while the Germans “only” liquidated approximately 200 Danes in revenge.
Otto Bülow, 1940
The Informer Problems
(Venter på tekst)
The Disaster in Snekkersten
Informer activities meant that one of the best escape routes in Snekkersten, the Thomsen-Escape Route was uncovered because an informer had overheard a telephone call from H.C. Thomsen´s Snekkersten Inn, to where two men from “the Holger Danske Group” in Copenhagen were to arrive and recreate.
The result was that the Gestapo shot down the two men from behind, when they got off the train in Snekkersten Station and walked down the path, Grønnegangen. Immediately after Thomsen was arrested, tortured and sent to the concentration camp Neuengamme, where he died. The informer was not apprehended until after the Liberation.
In an amateur narrow-gauge film immediately before Thomsen´s arrest you get an impression of the jolly inn-owner.
A memorial stone was erected on the spot, where they fell, after the Liberation. In the newspapers of the time you can see how the Germans wanted the murders described, but also how Ritzaus handled the matter.
The Murders in Grønnegangen
Memorial stone for Thomsen
April 11th 1945 shock waves swept over Elsinore, when it was rumoured that the Germans that same morning had executed four young people from Elsinore. And this at a time, when everybody knew that it was only a question of time before the Germans had to surrender.
Poul Erik Krogshøj Hansen (20 years old) and Knud Petersen (19 years old) were after secondary school apprenticed as shipbuilders to Elsinore Shipyard. Here they met Carl Jørgen Erik SKov Larsen (21 years old) and Henning Wieland (22 years old, who had served their apprenticeship in Aalborg Shipyard. All four went to Elsinore Technical School in order to take their naval architects´ exam.
The two first mentioned went into the resistance movement in connection with the persecution of the Jews in October 1943. At this point Krogshøj Hansen were arrested by the Germans and interned in Horserød, but he got off and was released. In the spring of 1944, he formed a new group with three friends, which was affiliated with the resistance organisation, BOPA. The participated in many forms of resistance work, the printing of illegal magazines, courier work and sabotage. Wieland was arreste by the Gestapo in the autumn of 1944, accused of sabotaging German ships. He strongly denied having done it and he was released.
Poul Erik Krogshøj Hansen
Carl Jørgen Erik Skov Larsen
An Acquaintance Informed on Him
In May 1945 the group was uncovered after an acquaintance of the two young men from Aalborg had informed on them. Some of the group´s members were arrested by Hipo-men (Hillfs-Polizei = Danes in German service) in Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen. They were so badly beaten up that they could not hold back the names of the others in the group.
The four resisters were sentenced to death and executed in Ryvangen April 11th 1945, where they were buried immediately. After the liberation Poul Erik Krogshøj Hansen´s and Knud Petersen´s bodies were taken to Elsinore cemetery, where they were buried next to each other.
Plaque of the four is hanging in Espergærde Gymnasium and HF. After the verdict the doomed were allowed to write farewell letters to their families. These letters can be read in the book “De sidste timer” (Copenhagen).
The informer, 26 years old hipo man, Oluf Bloch Klagenberg was later sentenced to death. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years imprisonment. This brought on protests and strikes, so the courts had to raise the sentence to life imprisonment.
The informers, who betrayed the resisters to Gestapo, posed such a danger to the resistance movement that they had to be liquidated. They could not be imprisoned, and to take them to Sweden would endanger the resisters themselves.
One of Denmark´s best known and feared resisters was Ben Faurschou-Schmidt, nicknamed “The Flame”. He supposedly killed more than 7 informers, before he committed suicide in 1944, when the Germans had him surrounded in a villa in Copenhagen.
“The Flame” belonged to the resistance organisation “Holger Danske”. In 1943744 he hung out in the Snekkersten Inn. He was a close friend of the people, who organized the escape routes. The son of the Innkeeper, the 15 years old Frantz Thomsen was once present when “The Flame” killed a suspected informer.
An amateur film shows “The Flame” as the centre of attention in Snekkersten Inn.
|Small||Large||The Flame with he Ziegler family
|Small||Large||New Years Eve 1943 in Snekkersten Inn
|Large||New Years Eve 1943 in Snekkersten Inn
Examples From Elsinore
In the Elsinore area there were also a number informer liquidations. In the autumn of 1944 the Holger Danske Group executed a pro-Nazi superintendent, Madsen.
An especially hated person in the area was Johan Ochel. He was employed as an interpreter in the Gestapo headquarters in Elsinore and he was nicknamed “The Viennese Child”. He terrorized the area brutally.
On March 15th Kristian Engelsen´s men liquidated “the Viennese Child” opposite Svingelport in Elsinore. The place is called “Simon Spies´ Square. The weapon was a Husquarna machine gun, which the group had stolen from the Social Democrats. The Danish army in the resistance movement was careful not to let any of Swedish arms help go to the Communists.
Resistance and Terror in Sweden
The neutral Sweden defended its neutrality against the Allies and the Germans. In Pålsjö Cemetery’s gravestones the tragic results can be read. Here you can also read the epitaphs of a number of soldiers, who died in connection with the shipwreck of a war ship and were washed ashore in the Scanian coast.
War Graves – Pålsjö Cemetery Relates
In the northern part of Helsingborg is Palsjö Cemetery. At the entrance of the cemetery there are to signs. One says that here is “Commonwealth war graves”, and the other informs of “Deutsche kriegsgräben”.
These two burial plots relate how northwestern Scania experienced the Second World War and how foreign young soldiers found their last resting place here – far from their home.
Of the 113 pilots from the British Commonwealth, who died in the Second World War in Swedish territory, 47 are buried in Pålsjö Cemetery. A few metres next to them lay German soldiers, who died in the same was in this area. They have found their final resting place not far form their enemies from the West Alliance, but also next to fellow countrymen, who died during the First World War. 93 German soldiers lay here.
The “Commonwealth war graves” consists of 47 meticulously placed white marble stones and a big sword-decorated cross in the one end. The gravestones tell that it is mainly young soldiers in their twenties. Some death dates appears more often than others and nobody died alone.
July 4th 1942
On the night of July 4th 1942 Bruce Morgan and J. Samson died with four other fellow soldiers. The next morning Helsingborg Dagblad said:
“British plane crashed in Lerberget.
Was hit by the air defence on the Danish side over Hornbæk."
Helsingborg experienced the reality of war at 1 one o´clock last night – perhaps closer than ever. Two aeroplanes, which in all probability were English, flew in a southern direction along the Sound and back, when the Danish air defence fired at them with an unheard of intensity.
One of the planes crashed approximately 200 metres from Lerberget. One of the seven-crew members, a Canadian was saved and taken to Helsingborg´s Hospital. In spite of an intensive search there have been no signs of the other six.”
The two aeroplanes had been on a mission to drop mines in the Sound, and in the course of the next couple of days five mines were rendered harmless by minesweepers. They were on their way home from the assignment, when one the planes were shot down. Of the seven-crew members only the Canadian, who flew the plane, survived. The others were buried here in Pålsjö Cemetery July 17th 1942 and several thousands of Helsingborg´s population slowed their sympathy.
Flowers arrived from high-ranking military persons and institutions, but also from ordinary people. The inhabitants in the area around Lerberget had sent a flower tribute and in Helsingborg they had collected money for a gift for the surviving hospitalised Canadian.
The police in Helsingborg sent the death message to Canada with newspaper clippings from the funeral. After some time an answer came from Bruce Morgan´s stepparents. The answer is quoted in Göte Friberg´s book ”Stormcentrum Øresund”.
”For the last twenty years we have taken care of him like he was our own son. The message you sent that his body has been taken out of the sea and that he has been buried with military distinction, have brought us happiness. These young men have given their life for us, and the freedom of the world, and although our hearts are crying, we are proud of them. The beautiful thoughts and the loving work, which the inhabitants of your town have expressed towards these heroes, was completely overwhelming and we are very grateful to you all.”
August 30th 1944
J. Kennedy died, 21 years old on August 30th 1944 with twenty others. The next day Helsingborg Dagblad said:
According to the available reports seven aeroplanes have crashed during overflights Tuesday night in the areas around the following towns: Knäred, Vittsjö, Örkelljunga, Båstad, Ljungby and Svensköp, and in the waters outside Vejbystrand. Five of the planes were of British nationality. Swedish air defence before the crash according to a close investigation hit some of the planes.
A large number of English aeroplanes flew back after a planned bombing expedition against Königsberg (Kaliningrad). They had been discovered by a German fighter and forced to withdraw. Over the Sound Danish and Swedish sides fired at them. Six planes crashed in northwestern Scania, among other places in Båstead and Skälderviken. Two planes that crashed in Svensköp in Scania and in Agunnaryd in southern Småland had been under fire from the Swedish air defence.
21 pilots were buried on September 7th ceremoniously in Pålsjö Cemetery. The Swedish crown princess, who was English, had sent a wreath. On the D.L.D Moon´s gravestone it says:” To the world, he was only one but to us he was all the world.”
The next day they lowered wreaths in the Skälderviken, where one of the planes had crashed.
D. L. D. Moon
February 8th 1945
Six young boys died on February 8th 1945, among them P.L Kirkpatrick, 20 years old from Australia. Helsingborg Dagblad said the following on February 9th:
“Aeroplane Crashed in Brohult, completely demolished.
Cattleman´s house 40 metres from the crash, only one pilot found yesterday."
For the first time a foreign aeroplane has crashed inside the Helsingborg city boundary. This happened yesterday evening around 8 o´clock, when a four-engine British bomber was shot over Helsingborg and crashed at Brohult´s farm.”
There was a lot of activity in the air space in the beginning of February. The Allies carried out massive bombing expeditions against German cities Berlin and Dresden. February 8th a number of allied planes entered Helsingborg´s air space from the north and was fired at by air defences in Sofiero. One of the aircrafts was hit and flew burning over the Tågaborg district and crashed at Brohult´s farm, east of Helsingborg.
In his book “Stormcentrum Öresund” Göte Friberg has testified to the despair, which the men at the anti-aircraft gun felt after the shooting, and Helsingborg municipality made a demand that the minister of defence should change the directives for the shooting of the air defence.
The aircrafts were shot down by the Swedish air defence and at the funeral the memories of the dead were praised by representatives of the Swedish defence and afterwards the families thanked for the marks of honour via Helsingborg Dagblad.
P. L. Kirkpatrick
Helsingborg Dagblad February 9th 1945
A few metres from “The Commonwealth War Graves” German soldiers are buried. More than 40 of them died on March 1st 1945. Among these Heinz Reck, 26 years old and Horst de Wall, 20 years old. The next day this piece of news dominated Helsingborg Dagblad:
“Horrifying ship´s disaster near Helsingborg.
German war ship with 70 men capsized in the storm.”
A German war ship, a minesweeper was on its way to Aalborg form Copenhagen. The had to turn back because of the storm, but capsized between Viken and Hornbæk and sank outside Vikingestrand in northern Helsingborg. The disaster was this not due to any war action. 42 dead bodies floated ashore along the coast from Landskrona and to the north, most of them just north of Landskrona.
Even these had their last resting place in Pålsjö Cemetary. Many people attended the funeral and the number of people, which had participated in the rescue work, was remarkable. This was not a question of Germans or Englishmen, but a question of life and death.
From the burial report in Helsingborg Dagblad:
“It was a moving moment when seven fishermen from “Gravarna” laid down a wreath and chauffeur Karl O. Hjelm said the last words for the dead and asserted that he and his firends had done what they could to save the their lives during the ill-fated storm night."
Helsingborg Dagblad March 2nd 1945
Helsingborg Dagblad March 10th 1945
A Forign Crowd of Peoble
Far from their homes here in Pålsjö Cemetery almost one hundred young men lay buried, one hundred of the many millions, who were sacrificed in the Second World War. Most of the victims of the world war are buried in the same way far from their homes. Göte Friberg, a policeman from Helsingborg gave this precise description of the ceremonies in Pålsjö Cemetary, a description, which probably covers thousands of other funerals during the Second World War:
“No families, no close friend were present, just a collection of correct men with and without uniform and in the background a large, silent, foreign crowd of people.”
Liberation and Peace
|The Brigade drives through Stengade; Elsinore May 5th 1945.
The Liberation – Denmark
May 4th 1945 in the evening it was announced in the radio that the Germans had surrendered effective from the next morning.
The Freedom Message From London
The Liberation – as Seen from Elsinore
The Liberation Evening May 4th 1945
On May 4th the liberation message was sent in the BBC´s news bulletin at 8.30 PM. The Germans had capitulated, however, not in Norway, and the capitulation was in force the next day, Saturday, May 5th, 8 o´clock AM. Everywhere in Denmark people tore down their blackout curtains, lit candles and crowded the streets jubilantly. In the local cinema the film was stopped so people could participate in the cheering in the streets.
German Surrender Without a Fight?
During the night there was hectic activity in the resistance movement and the military waiting groups in Elsinore and the partners in Sweden. The situation was tense. They had no way of knowing how the Germans troops would react. Kronborg, for instance, had 3000 German soldiers stationed with cannons and heavy arms.
The uncertainty and confusion about this was tragically illustrated in Bornholm, the southern part of the Sound region, where the German commandant refused to surrender to the Russians. This resulted in a devastating and – acknowledged from all sides – unnecessary Russian bombardment of Rønne and Nexø.
Strategic Core Area
Helsingborg as well as Elsinore were central strategic areas. For Helsingborg´s part it was the huge organizational task of gathering, in a few hours, the Danish Brigade (Danforce) from the destinations in Småland and the camps north of Stockholm to the central disembarkation place in Helsingborg.
It was a late decision. They also had to decide how the Swedish army should be depolyed to support the landing on the eastern coast of Zealand.
Swedish Generals Say Goodbye
The Liberation Day, May 5th, 1945
It was night before the town leadership was told that the Danish Brigade was ordered to land i Elsinore. In the evening on May 4th the town leadership had taken up headquarters in the Brewery Wiibroe and at 4AM the German patrolling in the streets ceased. At 8 AM the German ships in the harbour hoisted the peace flag and all over Elsinore Dannebrog (the Danish flag) was hoisted accompanied by the church bells.
On the morning of May 5th the Liberation Council had ordered the town leadership in Elsinore to concentrate on the following:
- Elsinore harbour was to be cleared of German obstructions.
- Make sure that the Germans in the strongly fortified Kronborg would not shoot at the Brigade on their was across the Sound.
The task was solved like this:
- At 8,50 AM the resistance movement had disarmed the German posts at the ferry berth
- At 9,00 AM the harbour was occupied by 15 armed and 50 unarmed resisters
- At 9,00 AM the town leadership and mayor Peder Christensen negotiated a deal with the German commandant in Kronborg, which allowed the Brigade to land freely in Elsinore.
At 11,30 AM the first troops from the Brigade landed in Elsinore harbour without problems.
The End og the Occupation!
The Military Waiting Groups in Elsinore
The Waiting Groups Take Action
The Arrival of the Brigade
On May 4th the Danish Prime Minister Vilhelm Bull ordered the Brigade to come home. The Germans had surrendered. The Danish camps were gathered in one big accumulation camp in Helsingborg and on the morning of May 5th 1945, a fleet consisting of almost anything that could float made out for Elsinore.
On departure there were celebrations and on arrival in Elsinore the popular Social Democratic mayor Peder Christensen held a moving welcome speech. Then they went on to Copenhagen, where 3 of the Brigade’s privates were murdered and 13 wounded by Hipo-snipers in the amateurish and irresponsible entry.
The Brigade on Its Way
The Homecoming of the Brigade in Elsinore
The Mayor in Elsinore Receives Them
Elsinore May 5th 1945.
The arrival of the Brigade resulted in cheers and the following days the town was dominated by the people of the Brigade and the resistance movement. At the same time there were confrontations between the Danes, the Germans and their Danish henchmen. The judicial reckoning began on liberation day.
You might say that the liberation day in Elsinore ended happily, although there were strong feeling against German refugees, German soldiers and the Danes, who had collaborated with the Germans. In Scania the liberation was greeted with joy, even though it was a great organisational challenge to the authorities and the many civilian helpers.
The Svea Column
The Four Inscriptions on the Svea Column
The Liberation - Sweden
The liberation message created enthusiasm in Helsingborg. The arrival of the Danish Brigade and departure for Elsinore and the joy of the many refugees marked Helsingborg.
The Liberation Seen From Helsingborg
The Stream of Refugees
In the last period of the war the stream of refugees increased considerably. This was among other things due to the negotiations of Folke Bernadotte, which made it possible for many prisoners from the concentration camps to be released and sent to Sweden. The majority of these transports passed through Copenhagen and Malmo and the released prisoners were placed in different camps in Scania. Malmo and Helsingborg were middle stations and in Helsingborg, Ramlösa was used as a transition camp. The health spa was not sufficient and therefore they had to use anything, like schools, industrial premises and hotels. 16.000 refugees arrived in Scania in less than a month. This required a comprehensive organisation to take care of all the refugees. Everybody had to go through a health and security control. Everybody had to be clothed and fed.
The Flag Hoisted for Denmark
“The news that Denmark is free again is celebrated, especially by all citizens of Helsingborg with utmost joy. To show our joy and as a tribute to a free Denmark, the flag will be hoisted all over Helsingborg”.
These words could be read on the editorial page in Helsingborg´s Dagblad on May 5th 1945. The night before the news of Denmark’s freedom had reached Elsinore. When the last ferry sailed to Helsingborg on the evening of May 4th, the citizens of Elsinore stood on the quay and shouted: Give them our regards!”
The Peace Message
Helsingborg Dagblad, May 6th 1945
Thousands of Helsingborg Citizens at Freedom Bonfire
On the evening of May 5th thousands of people had gathered at “Fria bad”, north of the town centre. A torchlight procession lit a gigantic freedom bonfire on the beach. They wanted to send freedom greetings to Denmark. Several times during the war bonfires had been lit to send greetings to the occupied Danes. Now they want to greet peace in the same way.
Earlier that day the whole town had followed the newspaper’s call for the hoisting of the flag and everywhere there were Swedish and Danish flags. Thousands of people had gathered in the harbour to say goodbye to the first returning Danish troops that had been trained in Sweden. This was the starting signal to a long row of returning Danes. A thanksgiving served was held in the Gustav Adolf Church. The church was full.
Norway´s Freedom Celebrated Too in Ramlösa
With the joy of Denmark´s liberation people now awaited the liberation of Norway. When it came, happiness was complete, not least in the Ramlösa camp, where many Norwegians had been accommodated. In the camp they also showed their gratitude to the policemen in Helsingborg, who had supported the refugees all the way.
This time too, a peace service was held in the Gustav Adolf Church with the dynamic and popular vicar Gunnar Stenberg.
Celebration in Ramlösa
Gigantic Transport Task
By the end of the war more than 100.000 non-Swedes were in Sweden. Some stayed, but most of them had to be transported home. A minute planning was implemented. Everybody could not leave at the same time, or form the same harbour. Many thousand returning refugees passed Helsingborg, Malmo and Trelleborg. Among others, Bruno Kreisky returned to Austria and Willy Brandt to West Germany.
But not only refugees returned home. German soldiers and Russian prisoners of war in Norway were also transported via Sweden. In the course of 1945 122.000 soldiers were transported and many of the Germans soldiers passed through Scania. Detailed planning was also required here, not least for security reasons. One tragic chapter was the Balts, who where forced out of Sweden, when the Soviet Union demanded that those, who had participated in the war against Soviet, were to be extradited. Dramatic and tragic scenes took place in Trelleborg, when the Balts were forced on board the ferry to a dark and insecure future.
Göte Friberg Acclaimed
Social minister Gustaf Möller came to Helsingborg a few weeks after the liberation. He was there to unveil a memorial stone and at the dinner afterwards in Grand Hotel he paid tribute superintendent Friberg as a man you could trust. Möller and Friberg both received a distinction from the Danish freedom movement for their efforts during the war. When Denmark needed help trustworthy persons were in demand.
During the dinner Möller said that Sweden during the war had decided to sende one million cartridges to Denmark. When the people in Stockholm considered how this could be done without the Germans finding out, the answer in minister level was: ”That´s very simple, we´ll just let Friberg in Helsingborg handle it”. The transport was a success, of course. Möller also stated that the government, now ought to sanction “everything that had happened in Helsingborg concerning hidden transports to and from Denmark”.
You may ask if the solidarity had ever been greater in the Sound region than it was in May 1945