Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz (September 29, 1904, Bremen – February 16, 1973) was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 attache who warned the Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 Jews about their intended deportation in 1943. It is estimated that he prevented the deportation of 95% of Denmark's Jews in the resulting rescue of the Danish Jews
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...


Early life

Duckwitz was born on September 29, 1904, in Bremen, Germany to an old patrician family in the Hanseatic City. After college, he began a career in the international coffee trade.


In the 1930s Duckwitz was a businessman trading with Scandinavian countries. He joined the Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 Party in 1932 and worked for Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

's foreign policy office but eventually left to work for the Hamburg America Line
Hamburg America Line
The Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft was a transatlantic shipping enterprise established in Hamburg, Germany during...

 shipping company. In 1939 the Third Reich assigned him to the German embassy in 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...

 as a maritime attache. He died in 1973.

Rescue of the Jews in Denmark

After 1942, Duckwitz worked with the Nazi Reich representative Werner Best
Werner Best
Dr. Werner Best was a German Nazi, jurist, police chief, SS-Obergruppenführer and Nazi Party leader from Darmstadt, Hesse. He studied law and in 1927 obtained his doctorate degree at Heidelberg...

, who organized the Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

. On September 11, 1943, Best told Duckwitz about the intended roundup of all Danish Jews on October 1. Duckwitz travelled to Berlin to attempt stopping the deportation through official channels. That failed and he flew to Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 two weeks later, ostensibly to discuss the passage of German merchant ships. While there, he contacted Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson
Per Albin Hansson
Per Albin Hansson , was a Swedish politician, chairman of the Social Democrats from 1925 and two-time Prime Minister in four governments between 1932 and 1946, governing all that period save for a short-lived crisis in the summer of 1936, which he ended by forming a coalition government with his...

 and asked whether Sweden would be willing to receive Danish Jewish refugees. In a couple of days, Hansson promised them favourable reception.

Back in Denmark on September 28, Duckwitz contacted Danish social democrat Hans Hedtoft
Hans Hedtoft
Hans Hedtoft Hansen was Prime Minister of Denmark from 13 November 1947 to 30 October 1950 as the leader of the Cabinet of Hans Hedtoft I and again from 30 September 1953 to 29 January 1955 as the leader of the Cabinet of Hans Hedtoft II.Hedtoft was a Social Democrat, and had taken over the...

 and notified him of the intended deportation. Hedtoft warned the head of the Jewish community C.B. Henriques and the acting chief rabbi Dr. Marcus Melchior
Marcus Melchior
Marcus Melchior was acting chief rabbi of Denmark in 1943 at the time of the rescue of the Danish Jews.Marcus Melchior came from a prominent Jewish family in Denmark...

, who spread the warning. Sympathetic Danes in all walks of life organized a mass escape of over 6000 Jews over the sea to Sweden.

Duckwitz, apparently assuming that he had done everything he could and possibly fearing exposure to Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

, went back to his official duties.

Later life

After the war, Duckwitz remained in the German foreign service. In 1955-1958 he served as West German
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 ambassador to Denmark. On March 21, 1971, the Israeli government named him Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

 and included him in the Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....


External links

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