Sorensen’s Farm in Occupied Denmark, 1943

Editor/Daughter’s Note: During the Second World War my dad lived in occupied Denmark, and moved around the country working on various farms (and occasionally getting into trouble with the German soldiers). 

Came fall I was again looking for a job and found it with a farmer in Rabsted near Tønder, very near the border.

Denmark-Germany Border 1943Soren Sorensen had advertised for a farmhand who would teach gymnastics in his community. I got the job and immediately began teaching the sport to two teams of a total of fifty men and women. My new employer was one of the gymnasts.

Soren was one of the municipal councillors with a strong interest in the social life of the Danish community that made up the 60% of the people there (the remaining 40% were Germans). The two groups seemed to do their own thing but the Danes seemed to be the most active and social.

Soren was a soccer player in the summertime, 42 years old and he had a wife and two boys and two girls as well as a few possible girlfriends!?

His boys biked to city school in Tønder every day so were in a great shape. Came summer I coached and refereed handball, and also took up running and high jumps and I managed to win a few 1500 meter races.

Soren also gave me time off for local agricultural courses and encouraged me to apply for getting in to an agricultural college. He had a penchant for hard work and for getting a job finished – once I saw him working until midnight in the moonlight.

He came from the west coast and when I picked up his mother at the railway station I learned that she spoke a very different dialect of Danish, very difficult to understand and related to English I was told.

I drove a milk wagon for Soren. As his farm was located at the end of the road and stopped at a wide creek, I picked up milk cans from all the other farms enroute to town and was given many errands in town, sometimes as many as twenty. I never wrote them down and never forgot any either.Dad's painting of a milkman and his horse on their route in Denmark,1943Soren was very outspoken anti-Nazi but not anti-German. He was also a womanizer – his sister up the road felt sorry for his wife and I could tell stories about what I saw. His biggest downfall was taking over a German officer’s girlfriend.

In August that year the Nazis rounded up the Danish Police and sent them to concentration camps. A cousin of mine went there too and Soren decided it was getting too hot for him too, and had me help him hiding his guns.

I myself had a nervy experience as I had taken a team of gymnasts to Tønder for a performance. On the way out of town on our bikes, Ove, who was also a boxer, took it out on a drunken German soldier who had stepped in front of him knocking him off his bike.

All hell broke loose and we took off with numerous German soldiers in hot pursuit. In the dark streets, without street lights, it was not easy to see who was who. Passing over a bridge, Gregers, a nineteen year old, was taken prisoner. Well out of range we stopped and discussed the situation, and I decided to go back and find out what I could do about it.

I found Gregers and also a couple of German-speaking girls for translators, and through the girls I explained to the German soldiers that Gregers was merely an innocent bystander caught up in the melee. After a little while, and a couple of missing punches from a soldier, they let me take off with Gregers.

When I left for the agricultural school Soren hired a manager for the farm and went underground. Later at the end of the war I met a girl from Rabsted who told me that Soren had emerged as a leader of a resistance group and was back home again.


5 responses to “Sorensen’s Farm in Occupied Denmark, 1943

  1. I always enjoy your father’s posts. They are so real, if that makes sense. Life must have been so uncertain. I find in interesting that Sorenson wanted an athletic farm hand. 🙂

    • When I was in Denmark in 1965 we went to a farm with a huge house that looked like a Southern plantation mansion. Inside was a large eating area for farmhands, and upstairs a ton of tiny bedrooms making me think that all the unmarried farmhands all lived with the family and the farmer took care of them – even down to making sure they were all fit and well-exercised!

  2. Pingback: Dalum Agricultural School in Denmark, 1943-44 | Albatz Travel Adventures·

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