Battle of Denmark
The Battle of Denmark was the fighting that followed the German army
Heer (1935-1945)
The Heer was the Army land forces component of the German armed forces from 1935 to 1945, the latter also included the Navy and the Air Force...

 crossing the Danish border on 9 April 1940 by land, sea and air. The German ground campaign against Denmark was the briefest on record in military history.

Motivation for invading Denmark

The attack on Denmark was planned as a part of the German Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung
Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign...

 Süd - the German plan for an invasion of Norway. The purpose was mainly to secure the iron ore shipping from Narvik. In order to capture Norway the Germans had to control the air field outside Aalborg
-Transport:On the north side of the Limfjord is Nørresundby, which is connected to Aalborg by a road bridge Limfjordsbroen, an iron railway bridge Jernbanebroen over Limfjorden, as well as a motorway tunnel running under the Limfjord Limfjordstunnelen....

 in northern Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

. The Luftwaffe high command was in favour of occupying Denmark in order to extend the German air-defence system northwards, making it harder for British bombers to outflank the system from the north when attacking cities in Germany. Additionally, the Norwegian fjords also provided excellent bases for the German submarines to attack in the Northern Atlantic.

German plan of attack

The German High Command planned for a combined assault on Denmark to overrun the country as swiftly as possible, with an airborne assault on the Aalborg air fields and a surprise landing of infantry from naval auxiliaries at Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 in addition to a simultaneous ground assault across the Jutland peninsula.


Although the Danish Army had been forewarned of the attack it was denied deploying or preparing defensive position as the Danish government did not want to give the Germans a provocation for their actions. All that was available to meet the land invasion were small and scattered units of the frontier guard and elements of the Jutland division.

Battle for Jutland

The Danish border was breached at Sæd, Rens, Padborg
Padborg is a Danish border town with a population of 4,486 located on the border with Germany. It is the location where both the E45 motorway, a railway and the historic Danish Army Road, hærvejen, cross the border...

 and Krusaa at 0415hrs. With the Kriegsmarine simultaneously landing troops at Lillebælt the troops at the border were cut off at the outset of the fighting.

Eastern flank


The first clash between the Danish Army and the invading forces occurred at Lundtoftbjerg
Lundtoftbjerg is an area 1 mile south of the small village Lundtoft in the southern part of Jutland, Denmark where the first fightings between Danish and German troops took place in 1940....

, where a Danish platoon armed with two 20 mm guns and a light machine gun had taken up positions covering the road. The Danes briefly resisted before retreating. The Germans lost two armoured cars and three motorcycles, while the Danes lost one dead and one wounded.

Another German column reached Hokkerup a few miles east of Lundtoftbjerg, and also encountered roadblock, this time defended by a force of 34 Danish soldiers. The Danes knocked out three German armoured cars, forcing the Germans to pull back. The Germans set up a 37 mm gun 300 meters away, but only managed to fire one round before being knocked out. The Germans eventually managed to surround and capture the Danish unit, killing two Danish soldiers.

7 km north of Lundtoftbjerg the German forces encountered yet another roadblock defended by two 20mm guns German tanks pushed the roadblock aside and opened fire. One gun returned fire until a German tank drove over it. The gunner attempted to run for cover in the nearby woods, but was killed when a German airplane strafed the road. The second gun malfunctioned. The Danes tried to escape on the motorcycles but the Germans then surrounded and captured them.

In an encounter between Danish and German forces at Bredevad, 10 km north of the border, a German vanguard of 4 armoured cars approached the village. The Danes, just arrived and not even having time to build a roadblock, took cover in a garden and opened fire. A machine gun and a 20mm cannon manned by one and a half platoon fired warning shots. Ignored by the Germans, the Danes then opened fire, knocking out the lead armoured car and killing its driver. A short skirmish followed. The Danes knocked out three more German armoured cars and suffered four casualties. The Germans managed to surround the Danes and force them into submission.

As the Danish forces at Søgaard army camp were preparing to pull back north to Vejle
Vejle is a town in Denmark, in the southeast of the Jutland Peninsula at the head of Vejle Fjord, where the Vejle and Grejs Rivers and their valleys converge. It is the site of the councils of Vejle Municipality and the Region of Southern Denmark...

 where the main force of the Jutland Division was preparing for battle, a short skirmish developed at Aabenraa
The city of Aabenraa or Åbenrå , with a population of 15,760 , is situated at the head of the Aabenraa Fjord, an arm of the Little Belt, in Denmark, 38 miles north of the town of Schleswig. Its name originally meant "open beach"...

 as a Danish rearguard attacked the pursuing German vehicles. After damaging a German tank the rearguard pulled back to Haderslev
Haderslev is a town and municipality on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula in south Denmark. Also included is the island of Årø as well as several other smaller islands in the Little Belt. The municipality covers and has a population of 56,414 . Its mayor is Jens Christian Gjesing,...


Haderslev had a garrison of 225 men of the Jutland Division, which defended both the barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 in the town and the road leading into it. In the first fightings at the southern outskirts of Haderslev a Danish 37 mm anti-tankgun with a crew of five attacked the approaching tanks, which returned fire. Two tanks were damaged, but two of the crew were killed and the rest wounded. Just around the bend, another roadblock covered by two 20 mm cannons put up resistance. The Germans laid down heavy fire and a Danish soldier was killed, but the Germans were effectively pinned down. The fighting continued for ten more minutes until the order to surrender was received from Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. The Germans were then allowed to proceed into the town of Haderslav, but the Danish garrison stationed there had not received the order to surrender and fired on the Germans when they arrived, resulting in a battle. One German motorcycle trooper was killed and two tanks were damaged during the attack. Two Danish soldiers were killed while defending the barracks, and three Danish civilians were killed in the crossfire. However, the Danish garrison gave up when the order to surrender from Copenhagen finally came through.
Tønder garrison

The first fighting in Western Jutland occurred against the garrison at Tønder
Tønder is a municipality in Region of Southern Denmark on the Jutland peninsula in south Denmark. The municipality covers an area of 1,278 km², and has a total population of 40,367...

. The first skirmish happened at Abild
Abild is a village and parish in Falkenberg Municipality, Sweden. The parish is a part of Slöinge rectory. Abild is first mentioned in writing in 1431, it was then written Apulde. The origin of the name is probably the old Hallandic word for wild apples, apuld....

 where two German armoured cars were knocked out by a 20 mm anti-tank gun before the Danes were forced to retreat. Further on, at Sølsted the Germans were completely halted, losing one armoured car and having another damaged. Only after receiving air support from three Henschel Hs 126
Henschel Hs 126
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1970 . ISBN 0-356-02382-6....

 aircraft were the Germans able to push the Danish forces out of their positions and back to Bredebro
Bredebro is a town with a population of 1,486 in Region of Southern Denmark in Denmark on the Jutland peninsula. The town was the original home of the ECCO shoe manufacturing company....

. when the men of the Tønder garrison reached Bredebro the order to capitulate had been issued and the fighting was over.
Abild and Sølsted

At Abild, a Danish 20mm gun crew knocked out two German armoured cars of the German 11th Motorized Regiment before pulling back. At Sølsted, a Danish antitank unit consisting of less than 50 men set up a defensive position with a 20mm gun on a road. When a force of the German 11th Motorized Regiment approached, the Danes opened fire as soon as the first German armoured car came within firing range. The first German armoured car was knocked out and ended up in a ditch, while the next continued forward, but pulled back after being hit. It was hit several more times, but was able to fire back. German infantry attempted twice to outflank the Danish positions, but both attempts were met with heavy fire and became bogged down. Seeing that his attack was failing, the German regimental commander radioed for support. Three German Henschel Hs 126 planes soon appeared. The aircraft bombed and strafed the Danish force, until the Danish commander ordered his troops to fall back to Bredebo.

Airborne landings

At approximately 0500hrs the first attack in the world made by paratroopers took place. 96 Fallschirmjäger
are German paratroopers. Together with the Gebirgsjäger they are perceived as the elite infantry units of the German Army....

s jumped from nine Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

 transports to secure Storstrøm Bridge
Storstrøm Bridge
Storstrøm Bridge is a road and railway arch bridge that crosses Storstrømmen between the islands of Falster and Masnedø in Denmark....

, connecting the island of Falster
Falster is an island in south-eastern Denmark with an area of 514 km² and 43,398 inhabitants as of 1 January 2010. Located in the Baltic sea, it is part of Region Sjælland and is administered by Guldborgsund Municipality...

 with the mainland, and the coastal fortress on Masnedø
Masnedø is a Danish island between Zealand and Falster. The island covers an area of 1.68 km² and has 156 inhabitants. Masnedø can be reached by the Masnedsund Bridge from Zealand or the Storstrøm Bridge from Falster...

 island. The Germans expected heavy fighting around the fortress, but much to the surprise of the elite troops, only two privates and an officer were found inside. The landing opened the way for a battalion of the 198th Infantry Division to advance on Copenhagen by land.

75 minutes later hundreds of paratroopers landed in Aalborg, the main city of northern Jutland, in order to secure the main military target in the entire operation Weserübung Süd: the airfield of Aalborg. This was planned to be the bridge to the invasion of Norway. The Fallschirmjäger
are German paratroopers. Together with the Gebirgsjäger they are perceived as the elite infantry units of the German Army....

s did not encounter any resistance and in less than an hour, German planes in huge numbers began to land on the runways. More than 200 landings and take-offs were recorded the first day, most of them transporting troops and fuel to Fornebu Airport
Oslo Airport, Fornebu
Oslo Airport, Fornebu was the main airport serving Oslo and Eastern Norway from 1 June 1939 to 7 October 1998. It was then replaced by Oslo Airport, Gardermoen and the area has since been redeveloped. The airport was located at Fornebu in Bærum, from the city center. Fornebu had two runways, one...

 in Norway.

Naval landings

In order to capture the connections between Jutland and Zealand the Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 landed more troops from the 198th Infantry Division at Funen
Funen , with a size of 2,984 km² , is the third-largest island of Denmark following Zealand and Vendsyssel-Thy, and the 163rd largest island of the world. Funen is located in the central part of the country and has a population of 454,358 inhabitants . The main city is Odense, connected to the...


At the same time troops landed in Korsør and Nyborg thereby cutting of the connections between Funen and Zealand. The troops in Korsør meeting no resistance hurried towards Copenhagen which they reached at noon.

A little before though, at 0355hrs the Germans had made a surprise attack in the southernmost city of Denmark, Gedser. The ordinary ferry from Warnemünde was crammed with German troops. Soldiers were swarming in land and cutting of the telephone lines. Immediately after armoured motorcycles followed, rapidly pacing towards the Storstrøm Bridge
Storstrøm Bridge
Storstrøm Bridge is a road and railway arch bridge that crosses Storstrømmen between the islands of Falster and Masnedø in Denmark....

 to capture it together with the paratroopers.

Capture of Copenhagen

To secure the quick surrender of the Danish authorities, a capture of the capital city was considered essential. At 0420hrs the 2,430 ton minelayer Hansestadt Danzig, with an escort of the icebreaker Stettin
Stettin (icebreaker)
Stettin is a steam icebreaker built by the shipyard Stettiner Oderwerke in 1933. She was ordered by the Chamber of Commerce of Stettin . The economy of the city of Stettin strongly depended on the free access of ships to and from the Baltic Sea...

 and two patrol boat
Patrol boat
A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties.There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine and/or estuarine or river environments...

s, entered the Copenhagen harbour with battle flags
Reichskriegsflagge was the official name of the war flag used by the German armed forces from 1867 to 1945. A total of seven different designs were used during this period.-Imperial Germany:...

 flying. The harbour was covered by the coastal artillery
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

 guns of Fort Middelgrund, and the newly appointed Danish commander ordered a warning shot to be fired. But the newly arrived recruits of the fort could not make the cannon function. After the landing of a battalion of the 198th Infantry at 0518hrs, the German forces captured the 70-strong garrison of the Citadel
Kastellet, Copenhagen
Kastellet, located in Copenhagen, Denmark is one of the best preserved fortifications in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners...

 - the headquarters of the Danish Army - without firing a single shot. The next target of the German forces was Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace is the winter home of the Danish royal family, and is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It consists of four identical classicizing palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard ; in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg's...

, the residence of the Danish royal family.

Amalienborg and capitulation

When the German infantry arrived at Amalienborg they were met with determined opposition from the training company of the King's Royal Guard
Den Kongelige Livgarde
The Royal Life Guards is an infantry regiment of the Danish Army, founded in 1658 by King Frederik III. It serves in two roles: as a front line combat unit, and as a guard/ceremonial unit to the Danish monarchy...

, which repulsed the initial attack, suffering three wounded. This gave Christian X
Christian X of Denmark
Christian X was King of Denmark from 1912 to 1947 and the only King of Iceland between 1918 and 1944....

 and his ministers time to confer with the Danish Army chief General Prior
William Wain Prior
William Wain Prior...

. As the discussions were ongoing, several formations of Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

 and Dornier Do 17
Dornier Do 17
The Dornier Do 17, sometimes referred to as the Fliegender Bleistift , was a World War II German light bomber produced by Claudius Dornier's company, Dornier Flugzeugwerke...

 bombers from Kampfgeschwader 4
Kampfgeschwader 4
Kampfgeschwader 4 "General Wever" was a Luftwaffe bomber unit during World War II. The unit was formed in May 1939. The unit operated the Dornier Do 17, Junkers Ju 88 and Heinkel He 111 medium bombers, with later service on the Heinkel He 177 heavy bomber...

roared over the city dropping the OPROP!
OPROP! was a German leaflet dropped over several Danish cities in the Battle of Denmark on April 9, 1940. The leaflets were signed by the head of Operation Weserübung Süd, general Leonhard Kaupisch...

A pamphlet is an unbound booklet . It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths , or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book...

. Faced with the explicit threat of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 bombing the civilian population of Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, and only General William Wain Prior
William Wain Prior
William Wain Prior...

 in favour of continuing the fighting, the Danish government capitulated at 0600hrs. in exchange for retaining political independence in domestic matters.

Fate of the Danish Air Services

The entire four squadron-strong Danish Army Air Service was stationed at Værløse
Værløse was a municipality consisting of only one parish also named Værløse in the former Copenhagen County on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark. The municipality covered an area of 34 km², and in 2005 had a total population of 18,649...

 near Copenhagen. In anticipation of the German invasion, the squadrons had prepared to disperse to airfields all over the country, but this had not been accomplished by 05:25 when Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 planes appeared over the airbase. As the German aircraft reached Værløse, one Fokker C.V-E
Fokker C.V
Fokker C.V was a Dutch light reconnaissance and bomber biplane aircraft manufactured by Fokker. It was designed by Anthony Fokker and the series manufacture began in 1924 at Fokker in Amsterdam.-Development:...

 reconnaissance aircraft was getting airborne, but was shot down by a Messerschmitt Bf 110
Messerschmitt Bf 110
The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often called Me 110, was a twin-engine heavy fighter in the service of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110, and nicknamed it his Eisenseiten...

 flown by Hauptmann
Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian and Swiss armies. While "haupt" in contemporary German means "main", it also has the dated meaning of "head", i.e...

Wolfgang Falck
Wolfgang Falck
Wolfgang Falck was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace during World War II. He was one of the key organisers of the German night fighter defences.-Military career:...

 at an altitude of 50 metres. Both crew members were killed. The German Bf 110s then strafed the base while sustaining heavy anti-aircraft fire, destroying 11 aircraft and badly damaging another 14 as they taxied to take off, wiping out most of the Danish Army Air Service in one action. The Danish Navy Air Service remained at its bases and escaped damage.

1st company of the 11th battalion

While most of the Danish Army followed the order to capitulate one unit refused to give up. The commander of the 4th Regiment, based at Roskilde
Roskilde is the main city in Roskilde Municipality, Denmark on the island of Zealand. It is an ancient city, dating from the Viking Age and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network....

, Colonel Bennike, believed that the order to surrender had been forced on the government by the Germans and that Sweden too had been attacked. Instead of surrendering Bennike boarded the ferry to Sweden in Elsinore
Helsingør is a city and the municipal seat of Helsingør municipality on the northeast coast of the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark. Helsingør has a population of 46,279 including the southern suburbs of Snekkersten and Espergærde...

 and went into exile. After the misunderstanding was later cleared up, some of the Danish soldiers stayed in Sweden while others returned to Denmark.


The German high command tried to stage the attack on Denmark as a peaceful invasion in an attempt to score propaganda points. Accordingly the German losses were never released. The Germans succeeded very well in this as most of the world believed Denmark did not put up a fight against the invasion at all.

But in 2005 the archives of the Danish weapons manufacturer DISA ('Danish Industrial Syndicate') were disclosed. DISA produced the Danish 20 mm cannon that took out so relatively many German vehicles. The Germans were naturally very interested in this weapon and forced the syndicate to export them to Germany. And in selling them to the German army they got their best argument from the Germans themselves: they told the company that 203 soldiers had been killed by the guns in Jutland.

The exact German losses are still not possible to acquire. Apart from the casualties at the front, a few aircraft were shot down or crashed and a ship sank after hitting a mine in the Great Belt.


The rapid Danish capitulation within six hours resulted in the uniquely lenient Occupation of Denmark
Occupation of Denmark
Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark began with Operation Weserübung on 9 April 1940, and lasted until German forces withdrew at the end of World War II following their surrender to the Allies on 5 May 1945. Contrary to the situation in other countries under German occupation, most Danish...

, particularly until the summer of 1943, and also in postponing the arrest and deportation
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 of Danish Jews until nearly all of them were warned and on their way to refuge in Sweden
Rescue of the Danish Jews
The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. On October 1st 1943 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported...

. In the end, 477 Danish Jews were deported, and 70 of them lost their lives, out of a pre-war total of Jews and half-Jews at a little over 8,000.
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