Oral History

Leif Donde describes his family's escape from Denmark to Sweden

The Germans occupied Denmark in April 1940, but the Danish government remained in existence and was able to protect Danish Jews. In August 1943, the government resigned after refusing to accede to German demands. German police began to arrest Jews in early October. Leif and his family decided to flee, and were smuggled by fishing boat to safety in Sweden. In Sweden, Leif attended school and his parents worked in a garment factory. The family returned to Denmark after the end of the war.


We were told that, uh, that we couldn't bring any luggage whatsoever. That we should put on as many warm clothes as we possibly could, and we went over and stayed overnight with, uh, some friends of my parents, some Christian friends of our, uh, of my parents, and we were told that we would just be staying for one night, which also happened. Uh, and the following morning, we went, the whole family, to the railroad station, and took a train down to the southern part of Denmark. Uh, I remember that, again this happened time and again during the escape to Sweden, that we were told "try not to be conspicuous." That's very, very important. [Interviewer asks: "How did you feel?"] And, well, I would say that I understood that this was serious, but I did also feel that to some extent this was an adventure. I don't think you can expect much else from from a six-year-old kid. Uh, there was definitely an element of adventure involved.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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