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Yellow Star, Selection Three

The Yellow Star, The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark
Selection 3

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Authors Note
Legend: a traditional story sometimes popularly
regarded as historical but unauthenticated; a myth
-THE CONCISE OXFORD DICT1ONARY 8th EDITION

The story of THE YELLOW STAR is a legend. It may be disappointing to the reader as it first was to this author to learn there is no proof that the story ever occurred. I learned of it as a scrap of a tale told to me by a stranger. Its imagery was so compelling, and its humanity so palpable, that I wanted to know more. Over the years, despite collecting various oral versions of the story, researching documents and works of fiction (most notably Lois Lowry’s moving novel, NUMBER THE STARS), I found onlyunauthenticated references to King Christian’s legendary defiance.

And I learned of many facts that in their own right were as powerful as the legend itself. I learned that

  • The beloved king of Denmark did indeed ride unescorted and unprotected through the streets of Copenhagen.
  • Stories about the king’s support of Danish Jews began to circulate throughout Europe as early as 1943, including his threat to wear the yellow star in solidarity with the Jews.
  • No Jews within Denmark were forced to wear the yellow star.
  • Among the Nazi-occupied countries, only Denmark rescued the overwhelming majority of its Jews.
  • Over 7,000 Danish Jews were smuggled to Sweden in fishing boats, 12 to 14 at a time, by a group of Danes called the “Helsingor Sewing Club.”
  • Of the almost 500 Jews deported to Theresienstadt, all but 51 survived due in large part to the Danish government’s intercession on their behalf.

Yet the legend only grows stronger. Why? Perhaps because we need it. The allegory of the yellow star used by the Nazis to divide and shame became in this legend a symbol of unity and hope. It is a story that should be told.

What if it had happened? What if every Dane, from shoemaker to priest, had worn the yellow Star of David?

And what if we could follow that example today against violations of human rights? What if the good and strong people of the world stood shoulder to shoulder, crowding the streets and filling the squares, saying, “You cannot do this injustice to our sisters and brothers, or you must do it to us as well.”

What if?

-C. A. D. 2000

The author and publisher invite you to read in more detail about the Nazi occupation of Denmark during World War II and the Danish resistance movement. (For links to important sources on the subject, visit the Peachtree Publishers Web site at peachtree-online.com.)