It is not usual to include a bibliography for a work of fiction, but in this case, where the drama of the historical record is so powerful, it seems possible that readers may want to be assured that the historical environment created in the novel is not made up along with the personal lives of my characters. I was greatly assisted in refining my understanding, and in reconciling conflicting written accounts, by generous Danes with both deep knowledge and personal memory of the times described in the book, particularly the historian Lars Lindeberg. But before I could learn enough to know what questions to ask, there were books, some of which may interest the reader with a specialized curiosity. This is a selected list, excluding guide books and quirky small-press memoirs and such. Not all the books on the list proved equally reliable, and they are certainly not all up to a scholarly standard (though most are), but all were informative in some way I found useful. They would interest a general reader seeking to know more about the amazing events of Denmark’s World War II.
Please note that I have used what editions came to hand, often from private libraries or from used booksellers reached on the internet. I will give here only such information as one would need to track down a copy of a given work, should a reader have such an interest.
Bertelsen, Aage. October ’43 . Translated by Milly Lindholm. Printed by Gross Printing Company. My copy gives no publisher or date. Dr. Bertelsen was a leader of the Lyngby group of school teachers, doctors, ministers and other ordinary Danes who succeeded in smuggling hundreds of Jews to safety from their suburb of Copenhagen. This is a first hand account of his group’s work, plus the work of other such spontaneous groups of rescuers.
Eilstrup, Per and Lars Lindeberg. De Så det Ske Under Besættelsen: Bevar Ro og Orden. København: Forlag Union 1969. The “peace and order” period of the occupation, in a heavily illustrated format much like that of the U.S.’s Time/Life books, in two volumes. Invaluable.
—–. De Så det Ske Under Besættelsen: Gå til Modstand. København: Forlag Union 1969. The period of Resistance.
Flender, Harold. Rescue in Denmark. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963. A highly readable popular account by an American writer and filmmaker
Goldberger, Leo, Editor. The Rescue of the Danish Jews; Moral Courage Under Stress. New York: New York University Press, 1987. A collection of essays and personal narratives by scholars and survivors of the events, intended to separate facts from fable (or kitsch, as I have heard one modern Danish scholar refer with typical Danish reserve, to some of the more mythologizing accounts that flourished a decade or two after the war). Prof. Goldberger was himself among the evacuees; his father was cantor at Copenhagen Synagogue when Rabbi Melchior interrupted slichot services to warn of the impending disaster.
Hæstrup, Jørgen. Secret Alliance, translated by Alison Borch-Johansen, Odense: Odense University Press, 1976. A work in three volumes, of which (maddeningly) I could only obtain the first in English. The secret alliance being the collaboration of the Danish Section of Britain’s foreign intelligence and Denmark’s very slowly developing underground resistance movement.
Jespersen, Knud J. V. No Small Achievement; Special Operations Executive and the Danish Resistance 1940-1945. Translated by Christopher Wade. Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2002. Scholarly military history replacing or supplementing the work of Jørgen Hæstrup on the collaboration between British Intelligence and the Danish resistance.
Kjersgaard, Erik. Besættelsen1940-45: Lusene Slukkes. København: Politikens Forlag A/S, 1980
— Besættelsen 1940-45: Freden Forberedes. Heavily illustrated social history of the occupation in two volumes.
Hong, Nathaniel. Sparks of Resistance; The Illegal Press in German Occupied Denmark, April 1940-August 1943, Odense: Odense University Press, 1996.
Mentze, Ernst. 5 Aaar: Besættelsen I Billeder. København: Berlingske Forlag, 1945. Pictorial history of the Occupation published almost immediately after the peace.
Pais, Abraham. Niels Bohr’s Times In Physics, Philosophy and Polity. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. An intellectual biography.
Petrow, Richard. The Bitter Years: The Invasion and Occupation of Denmark and Norway April 1940-May 1945. New York: Wm. Morrow & Co., 1974.
Pundik, Herbert. In Denmark it Could Not Happen: The Flight of the Jews to Sweden in 1943. Translated by Anette Mester. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 1998. A mature popular account by a Danish journalist who lived through the events of the rescue.
Skov, Niels Aage. Letter to my Descendants. Odense: Odense University Press, 1999. A richly readable first person account addressed to his American children and grandchildren by a Dane who when young during the war became a one-man sabotage unit. Skov has lived in the US for most of his adult life and writes well, so is uniquely able to describe the Danish culture of his childhood, and his war, for an American audience.
Steinbeck, John. The Moon is Down. New York: Viking, 1942. A short novel, also often adapted for the stage, it became a sort of underground anthem for Scandinavians under the occupation.
Sutherland, Christine. Monica. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1990. A biography of the Anglo-Irish born woman who as Baroness Wichfeld became a heroine of the Danish Resistance, for which she ultimately gave her life.
Yahil, Leni. The Rescue of Danish Jewry: Test of a Democracy. Translated from Hebrew by Morris Gradel. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1969. An exhaustive scholarly study of the crisis and the rescue.
It was particularly difficult to find reliable in-depth accounts of life inside Ravensbrück, where most female Danish Resistance fighters were sent from Frøslev, but one could not simply infer the specifics of life there from some better documented camp. As an all-women’s camp (there were male prisoners in its satellite camps, but not in the main camp) it had to differ from others. Has it been written of less because it was all women? I can’t say; it may be because it was conceived as a work camp, (although there was plenty of death there) providing slave labor for Siemens and other employers, rather than the more spectacularly shocking extermination camps. The profits Himmler realized on renting out his captive labor force was the primary point of Ravensbrück for the Nazis until late in ’44, when the approach of the Russian army caused Auschwitz officials to send many of its female prisoners west to Ravensbrück, and a gas chamber was finally built there, probably in early winter of 1945. Nazi officials at Ravensbrück destroyed their own records and made every effort before the Russians reached them to kill all prisoners who had worked in the gas chamber or been victims of experiments (to prevent their testifying at coming war trials). Therefore relatively little documentation remains except first person survivor accounts, and they tend to vary widely, depending on when in the war the survivor was at the camp, how long after the fact she recorded her memories, and who she is or was. Thanks mainly to the fact that internet search engines got better and better as I was pursuing this book, and also to the fact that Vebe Borge, who is working with a Polish director on a documentary film about Ravensbrück, suddenly crossed my path with sources I had missed, I feel confident that I’ve come as close as one can at this remove. And it’s important; the more horrible a story, the more important that its daily details be accurate, as it’s the facts about soap and salt and soup and underwear that make you realize that this story happened to real people.
Anthonioz, Genevieve de Gaulle. The Dawn of Hope: a Memoir of Ravensbrück. A remarkable story of what happened when the officials at the camp realized that if they lost the war, and one of their dead was the niece of the leader of the Free French, things would go worse for them. (What happened was solitary confinement, which for the strong minded came as a life-saving relief from normal life at the camp.)
Marette, Fanny. I Was Number 47177. Geneva: Ferni Publishing House, 1979. A vivid, well-written memoir by a French Resistance fighter who arrived at Ravensbrück in 1944. First copyrighted in 1964, so written closer to the fact than many.
Morrison, Jack G. Ravensbrück: Everyday Life in a Women’s Concentration Camp 1939-45. Princeton: Marcus Wiener Publishers, 2000. A professor at Shippensburg University gives a thorough overview, from the camp’s history in the early days of the Nazis, through liberation by the Russians in 1945.
Poltawska, Wanda. And I Am Afraid of My Dreams. Translated from the Polish by Mary Craig. London: Hodder & Stoughton,1987. First published in Polish in 1964, this is a stunning account by a young Polish Resistance fighter who spent from 1941-’45 at Ravensbrück and was one of the famous “rabbits,” victims of gruesome experimentation and known throughout the camp as “Nacht und Nebel” prisoners, earmarked to disappear into the night and fog instead of ever living to tell their tales.
Reck-Malleczewen, Friedrich Percyval. Diary of a Man in Despair. Not about Ravensbrück as such, but in aid of remembering, while immersed in the above, that there were Germans of conscience and principle who loathed what was happening to their country, a valuable antidote to the National Socialists on view. Reck-Malleczewen’s journal begins in 1936 with the death of Spengler, and ends with his own death in Dachau.
Roux, Catherine. Red Triangle. Translated from the French by S. and L. Van Vliet White. Geneva: Ferni Publishing House, 1979. First copyrighted in Paris, 1969. A quite artfully written first-person account from another French political prisoner who was in Ravensbrück for many months in 1944.
Sommer-Lefkovits, Elisabeth. Are You in This Hell Too? Memories of Troubled Times 1944-1945. Translated from the German by Marjorie Harris. London: the Menard Press, 1995. Arrested in autumn of 1944 with her young sons, the author, who is Jewish, was sent first to Ravensbrück, then to Bergen Belsen. The title question is addressed to a skeletal woman she meets at the latter and with difficulty recognizes as her sister.
Ten Boom, Corrie. The Hiding Place. Written with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. Famous novel-like story of a young Dutch passionate Christian whose faith is undimmed by Ravensbrück.
Tillion, Germaine. Ravensbrück: An Eyewitness Account of a Women’s Concentration Camp. Translated from the French by Gerald Satterwhite. New York: Doubleday/Anchor, 1975. Remarkable book, both a first-person account of Tillion’s life at Ravensbrück from 1942 to 1945, and an academic study of the subject by the prominent anthropologist she became. Mme. Tillion was head of the Department of Graduate Studies at the Sorbonne at the time of publication, and an internationally recognized expert on the phenomenon of slavery and imprisonment.