The Thomsen Route
H C. Thomsen 18.9.1906-4.12.1944.
|H C. Thomsen 18.9.1906-4.12.1944.
The Thomsen escape route was organized by the popular inn-owner of Snekkersten Inn.
The popular inn owner, H.C. Thomsen, Snekkersten Inn, organized the Thomsen route.
H.C. Thomsen was one of the most prominent escape helpers. In a close collaboration with the other routes, the inn became the maritime headquarters for the escape routes in Snekkersten.
An informer denounced the route in 1944 and Thomsen was murdered in the German concentration camp, Neuengamme.
Snekkersten Inn 1943
H.C. Thomsen´s Cutter
J. Gjersfelt, The Stella Route
The Escape Routes in Elsinore-Snekkersten
The Elsinore area was – because the short distance to Swedish waters (2 kilometres) an obvious crossing place and the small fishing village, Snekkersten, approximately four kilometres south of Elsinore became a junction for the illegal escape routes.
At first the crossings from Snekkersten were spontaneous and overt. Refugees arrived randomly and on their own initiative and made arrangements with the local people, mostly fishermen, who then sailed them across, if they were lucky.
In the time up and around October second the Danish police and the so-called coast police posed the greatest danger, as they monitored the boats and concentrated their efforts around the harbours. There were, however, incidents when pro-German inhabitants of Snekkersten called the police, who subsequently released the Jewish refugees.
In the beginning the coast police was very serious about the surveillance and prevented attempts of escape, but soon they were systematically involved in the crossings and their role in the Elsinore area was of great importance.
The coast police was stationed at Stella Maris on the north coast and here and other places they helped actively to monitor the Germans´ movements.
The Coast Police
Other public officers also helped. Vicarages were used for accommodations and many police officers were involved, for instance Thormod Larsen and Jørgen Sandholt from the “Elsinore Sewing Circle”. Some doctors helped to anaesthetize the weakest of the refugees, for instance the young doctor Jørgen Gersfelt, who became a central figure in the Snekkersten-crossings. Gersfelt started to anaesthetize vulnerable refugees, especially children, but soon his house was full of refugees waiting to cross over, and he was thus deeply involved.
Flugthjælperne og pengene
Gerfelt depicted the first period as quite chaotic: All types of boats were used and there were shipwrecks and deaths among refugees as well as the fishermen, who took care of the crossings.
(Oversættes til engelsk)Der foreligger også vidnesbyrd om, at nogle af fiskerne tog sig godt betalt for overfarten.
Gjersfelt´s Boat, Stella
Fra kaos til orden
Erling Kiær from the Sewing Circle confirms this account of the conditions in the beginning.
Gersfelt also described the financial circumstances involving the refugee transports as a motive to enter the activity. The fishermen set prices on the actual crossings, but in the beginning there was, according to Gersfelt, also “unknown go-betweens”, who made easy money on the transports.
Eventually bigger boats were used for the crossings. These could hold up to 20 persons and the crossing to Kobbarverket (The Copper Works) south of Raa, took, according to Gersfelt, approximately less than an hour, while the trip with a rowing boat could take 5 hours. The crossings reached culminated around october 8. -9th, where the coast police on Stella Maris was involved and Snekkersten had turned into a maritime station, until Gestapo finally appeared. Gersfelt´s account is a first-hand view of the situation and there are also memoirs available about the situation seen from the children´s point of view.
The Kayak Club
Children on the Run
Gestapo skrider ind
The activities of the Gestapo had until then restricted itself to the searching of hotels and boarding houses in the area and in some cases (Pension Torbenhus) a few Jews had been arrested. Because of this private accommodation were used in Snekkersten, especially around the harbour. The Snekkersten Inn with the renowned landlord, Thomsen, was the haunt of a great deal of the boat people and became known as “Færgekroen” (The Ferry Inn).
Eventually and especially after the arrival of Gestapo chief, Juhl, the presence of Gestapo was felt with raids on the inn and it culminated with an arrest on Snekkersten harbour, where 12 men were sent to Horserød, but got off with an 8 days stay. Unfortunately this episode did not become known in Copenhagen and the situation in Snekkersten degenerated into the grotesque.
Snekkersten Inn the the 1940´s
The transports now became much more dangerous and the danger came from many sides, also from Sweden, where people, who had already escaped, showed great incautiousness in their letters home to Denmark.
The Gilleleje Tragedy
Because of the tense atmosphere efforts were made to have crossings with bigger ships and a transport of 100 Jews from Snekkersten to Gilleleje was arranged, where a schooner was to sail them across. In this operation there was a certain amount of cooperation with the Kiær-group, and it was Kiær himself, who was in charge of the extensive convoy to the north.
However Gestapo had gotten wind of the operation and on the evening of October 6th 1943 approximately 100 Jews were arrested on the loft of the church. Gestapo-Juhl said later during interrogation that he became suspicious, when they did not want to let him into the church.
Tilbage til Snekkersten
The captives were taken via Horserød to the German concentration camp, Theresienstadt, but the Jews from Snekkersten, except a few, escaped and were accommodated in Espergærde, from where they escaped in the nick of time. Everybody crossed; the last 30 were rowed across in fishermen´s boats. When Gestapo entered Villa Søblik opposite the harbour, the last trip was sailed from Snekkersten itself and instead Humlebæk, approximately 8 kilometres south of there, was used.