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Liberation and Peace

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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 Freedom Message From London
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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
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 End og the Occupation!
The Military Waiting Groups in Elsinore
The Military Waiting Groups in Elsinore
The Waiting Groups Take Action
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 Brigade on Its Way
The Homecoming of the Brigade in Elsinore
The Homecoming of the Brigade in Elsinore
The Mayor in Elsinore Receives Them
The Mayor in Elsinore Receives Them
Elsinore May 5th 1945.
Elsinore May 5th 1945.

Happy end
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 Svea Column
The Four Inscriptions on 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
The Peace Message
Helsingborg Dagblad, May 6th 1945
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.
Peace Service
Peace Service

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
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
Göte Friberg
Göte Friberg
"Stormcentrum Öresund"
"Stormcentrum Öresund"

©  Øresundstid 2009