Dalum Agricultural School in Denmark, 1943-44

Editor/Daughter’s Note: In 1943 my dad worked for a farmer called Soren Sorensen who encouraged him to take agricultural courses. Sorensen had run afoul of the German occupiers by running off with one the soldier’s girlfriends so when dad went full time to the school, Sorensen went underground and became a leader in the Danish resistance. 

I arrived November 1 at Dalum for a six-month course. To enter the school it was necessary to have a minimum of two years of farm work as that meant it was easier to understand the theories, and by then I had seven years of work on various farms with different types of farming.

Given a test for educational level I was placed in level 3, the very bottom, but it did not take long to advance due to my farming experience.

It was a crash course. Only chemistry, biology, physics, geology, mathematics and other subjects related to agriculture were taught. We were also taught were the needs and care of farm animals, along with soil types, field layout and much more.

Dad's painting of 'the big ears always listening' in when students phoned home from the Agriculture school in Denmark

Dad’s painting of ‘the big ears always listening in’ whenever any students phoned home from the Dalum Agriculture School near Odense in Denmark.

We were two to a room, and for the first two months gymnastics was mandatory so as to ease the transition from physical work to sitting still, though I think a lot of students needed to go through a boot camp for learning discipline.

I worked hard on understanding physics and chemistry. It paid off when I was called to the blackboard to explain the workings of the formula the teacher had written on the blackboard, and I fired off the answers as quickly as the teacher asked the questions, but I was not even sure I really understood them myself. However I gave all the right answers and when I went back to my seat I wondered, was that me giving the answers or was it a spirit talking through me? I still do not know.

After the two months of mandatory courses I joined a voluntary group of gymnasts and what a difference. I also went for a two-mile run every morning so was bright-eyed and alert at the lectures, and I did well on the exam tests when answering questions at the podium in front of the class. My exam paper on farm planning was kept by my teacher to show future classes of students.

Something interesting here is that my training in gymnastics prepared me for the discipline of mind as well of body. In calisthenics, as in the military, you repeat the exercise till you do it automatically without even thinking, just like a long distance run when after 7-8 km the legs are on automatic and it is no longer an effort.

I would have liked to stay on for the three summer months as well as that would have qualified me for a two-year course at the agricultural college in Copenhagen, but I had run out of money and it was never to be.

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