Historic Lejre, Denmark 1944

Editor/Daughter’s Note: This is an excerpt from my dad’s journals of memories. 

I landed a job as farm foreman at Viggo Fransen’s farm near Lejre on Zealand. Viggo was the town’s mayor and did not have time for the farm.

Lejre was at one time Denmark’s capital but as the landmass rose the town became further and further inland. Being inland it was no longer attractive to a seafaring nation and Roskilde, on the water’s edge, became the new capital, and then later Copenhagen.

In Viking times the town was a training camp for tens of thousands of warriors coming from all over Scandinavia. The wood for their ships were built from the then-plenty of forests of oak and beech wood. The landscape around Lejre is dotted with Viking graves.Dad's painting of a gravesite in Denmark, 1944In modern times five wrecked ships were dug out of Roskilde fjord and are now housed in a large museum. They were likely sunk in a battle between two tribes of Vikings as there were no others in the region to challenge them.

I participated in athletics in the community but did not train very much as the working hours were long and the war had caused shortages of parts for machinery and oil and grease.

Occasionally I participated in competition and in particular the regional competition between eleven sports clubs on north Zealand with four athletes from each club.

I was a good long-distance runner, not noted for speed but for stamina, and racked up a lot of points for 1500- and 10000-meter distance running as I came in second in a field of 44 participants.

Transportation became a problem because of a shortage of bicycles, never mind cars and trucks. The few vehicles that ran used wood and charcoal in place of gasoline with the burners only providing 60% of the energy of gasoline.

The tires on my bike were stolen one night even though I had hidden the bike under straw in the barn. I rode one of the farm’s horses, Prince, to the sports field in the evenings where I found another pair of tires on the black market. They had obviously been cut off and vulcanized back together so maybe I bought back my own tires?

Dad's painting of the horse called Beast, 1943

Daughter’s note: Dad’s painting of the horse called the Beast, 1943. I think this might be Prince, the timing is about right.

In the fall Viggo’s two sons, one a painter and the other a carpenter, had run out of work because of the lack of paint and lumber. The old farm became quite handy for them and I was out of work again.

I hoped to land a job as herdsman for a year. Every day I would scan the paper for farmhands wanted and go on my bike to find the advertiser.

On such one trip I nearly landed in the soup when I asked for directions. This fellow I asked must have been a Nazi spy but seemed to know the countryside well.

Coming back from my mission, the farmer I visited had phoned Viggo and told him that the Gestapo had searched the farm and then shown him pictures of me at my old job standing by a milk wagon, obviously a picture taken by one of Soren Sorensen’s enemies. By being associated with him I was also guilty of belonging to the resistance.

Of course I stayed out of sight till the coast was clear. My employer Viggo understood my dilemma as he had a relative who had also gone underground like Soren. But more than 99% of Danes worked together to protect other Danes.

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