Henny and Her Boat (2022 Edition)

Henny and Her Boat (2022 Edition)

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by Howard S. Veisz

Denmark's World War II rescue of its Jewish population was a shining example of courage, morality and national resolve.

Three years after the Nazis invaded Denmark, they set a plan in motion to capture the country's Jews in a single night and send them on the path to annihilation. Word of the plan got out seventy-two hours before the Nazis were set to pounce, triggering a nationwide effort to warn and hide the Jews. On the night of the scheduled raids, the Gestapo came up almost empty-handed. The chase, however, had just begun. The only safe place within reach was Sweden, and the only way to get there was by boat.

Danes organized escape routes on hundreds of boats from points all along Denmark's eastern shore. Gerda III -- Henny's Boat -- was one of the most successful. During a month of clandestine crossings, at least three hundred Jews, ten to fifteen at a time, were saved by Gerda III and the people associated with it.

Twenty-two-year-old Henny Sinding was at the heart of Gerda III's rescue missions. Working with the boat's four-man crew, a university-based resistance group, and a young navy cadet with whom she was falling in love, Henny escorted Jews from rendezvous points around Copenhagen to a warehouse attic overlooking the boat and then, in pre-dawn darkness, onto the boat itself. Gerda III's crew completed the escapes, traveling past German warships and mines to Swedish ports.

When the Jewish rescue operation was done, Henny's team became a leading armed resistance group, conducting daring sabotage missions throughout Denmark, and Gerda III continued to be a lifeboat for persons hunted by the Nazis. Their story epitomizes the story of a nation that rose from a humbling surrender to battle the Nazis and hand the Gestapo its most glaring defeat.

The book is an expanded and enhanced version of the work originally published as Henny and Her Boat, Righteousness and Resistance in Nazi Occupied Denmark.