Niels was raised in a religious Jewish household. In 1932, the family fled to Copenhagen, Denmark, where Niels's father opened an antique store in the mid-1930s. The Germans invaded Denmark in April 1940, but to Niels, little seemed to change during three years of occupation. Upon hearing of German plans to round up Jews in October 1943, Niels and his family decided to flee. A member of the resistance took them to the fishing village of Snekkersten, from where they were able to cross by boat to Sweden. Niels returned to Denmark in May 1945.
We were in school that day. We saw loads and loads of planes, bombing planes coming one after--I mean hundreds and hundreds of planes coming in, and Germans on motorcycles, horses, dragging cannons and the big tanks all over the place. It didn't take more than a couple of hours 'til they took over the country. Like I said they couldn't resist. Denmark was a very small country. And, uh, life went on as before, except that you are not allowed to walk on this side of the street, in front of the bank. They would post soldiers with, uh, guns and, and steel helmets and things like that in front of the banks and the hotels and important institutions that they wanted to guard. But besides that nothing happened really. The police was in force and the Danish army was...although they were there, they had not much to say or to do, but, uh, they were all...life was continuing the way it was.
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