“It happened overnight.” On April 9, 1940, German forces invaded Denmark, where they would remain until surrendering in 1945. Also overnight was the start of a Danish resistance movement—not the result of government initiatives, but rather the selfless actions of individuals who risked their lives.
Through anecdotes, accompanying quotes and archival photos, award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson tells the stories of some of these heroes in Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark. For example, Tommy Sneum was a young flight lieutenant in Denmark’s air force until it was grounded, at which point he turned to gathering information and discovered a new German Freya radar system. With harrowing events rivaling any Hollywood thriller, Tommy evaded death many times to take this information to Great Britain, where he was asked to serve as their first wartime spy in Denmark. Other resisters include Niels Skov, who started as a lone saboteur, using a screwdriver and matches to set German vehicles and buildings on fire, and student activist Jørgen Kieler, who was influential in an illegal newspaper and sabotage group.
In between their stories, which sometimes intersect, Hopkinson weaves big-picture historical information. The author also devotes portions of the book to resisters’ efforts to help 7,220 of Denmark’s 7,700 Jews escape to Sweden and the concentration camp internment of arrested resisters. She reveals moments of light in a dark time and encourages readers to ask themselves, what can one person do?