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The concentration camp Fröslevlager (Frøslevlejren) in Frøslev near Padborg / Denmark
The story of a Danish concentration camp in Fröslev
An approach to the Frøslevlejren meeting point near Padborg
Frøslevlejren is a museum and meeting place near Padborg in Fröslev, Denmark and is located close to the border with Germany. I have known for a long time about the existence of the former concentration camp. Today I happened to drive into the surrounding forest with our little daughter, spontaneously we decide to visit this concentration camp in Denmark.
Arrive in Fröslevlejren
A small sign on the roadside in Padborg indicates the Fröslevlejren meeting place. We turn off and park in front of the large wooden entrance gate in the middle of a beautiful heath-like forested landscape.
We stay in the Bulli for a while, at the moment we are the only ones with a German license plate. Around us, children, families and old people come out of the cars and head for the Fröslevlejren concentration camp with the barbed wire and watchtowers that have been preserved.
Tangible silence in Fröslevlejren
It is quiet with us in the VW bus, I breathe this unreal atmosphere and am full of reserved respect for what I want to discover.
If the Second World War is still particularly visible in its own way today, it is because of its non-wipeable traces in Denmark. Shame spreads, but also gratitude to meet each other today with friendship and with open borders.
Humility towards the people who have been open to us for a long time and do not ask for the removal of the countless concrete bunkers on the most beautiful beaches.
At eye level. Respectful. Free
And then comes a small gesture that particularly touches me at this moment: Our 14-month-old girl waves from the car to the Danish visitors and smiles impartially.
We slowly get out, we walk slowly through the gate, past the watchtower with its headlights on and see the many barracks painted red. Ironically, beautiful and framed by well-kept lawns, a central watchtower with its large Appelplatz awaits in the middle of the complex.
The café in the first barrack is a little strange, on the outside squares decorated with fresh flowers and the advertising sign for the ice cream shop.
Sun in the fog
Sign of hope.
But maybe that’s exactly what symbolizes that after a morning hope is carried through the flowers and the ice reflects the cheerfulness that has returned to this formerly tragic and sad place.
„The question arises: do we really want that again? "
The history of the Fröslevlejren concentration camp until 1945
The occupation of Denmark
Denmark was actually neutral at the beginning of the Second World War. A non-aggression pact had even been concluded. But that did not prevent the German regime from occupying Denmark as early as 1940.
The Danes protested, but initially remained in Danish hands as royal family, administration, police and judiciary. But at the beginning there was resistance against the occupiers and against everyone who worked with them.
The situation worsened increasingly for the Danish population. The government found itself unable to do so and resigned on August 29, 1943. This also ended the willingness to come to terms with the occupiers to some extent.
The emergence of the Fröslevlejren concentration camp
Concern for the resistance fighters.
On the contrary, more and more Danes were drawn to the resistance. They disturbed the occupiers with all their options. They received support from the English, who dropped weapons, explosives and logistical aids from the aircraft.
While until now, Danes who have been captured have only been deported in rare cases, the number of prisoners has grown and with it the concern that they could be deported to Germany. There were no Jews in this country for a long time, they were able to flee to neutral Sweden in time.
The Danish administration offered the occupiers to set up their own camp so that the resistance fighters could be reasonably assured. The Gestapo then got involved and approved the construction of the camp in Fröslev, which was run as the Fröslee police prison camp.
One year before the end of the war, it went into operation unfinished on August 13, 1944. Originally designed for 1500 prisoners, 5500 prisoners were still counted here in the last month of the war.
The Danes took responsibility for the care, but could not prevent the occupiers from imposing forced labor.
More than 12,000 prisoners went through this camp, 1,625 people were deported to German concentration camps alone. 220 people, who were initially housed in Fröslev, fell victim to the murderous regime.
The history of the Fröslevlejren concentration camp from 1945
The settlement with the occupiers
With the surrender on May 5, 1945, the tide turned. The resistance fighters took over the camp and arrested members of the German minority and those who worked with the Germans during the occupation.
However, Denmark as a state acted quickly and took back the monopoly on violence, and the internment and penal camp was now named after the neighboring village and was henceforth called Fårhus camp. Some 5,500 people were locked up in this area. In order to enable an appropriate punishment, laws have been passed with retroactive effect. The term “legal settlement” was created for this situation. However, the punishment was directed against concrete acts, but not against the National Socialist sentiment. However, prisoners were released without charge after weeks or months.
The Danish Red Cross was responsible for the supply. However, this became very difficult with the increasing number of occupants. So there were some deaths during the camp.
The last inmates were released in 1949.