Museum of Jewish Heritage to open exhibition on the rescue of Danish Jews during WWII

The Museum of Jewish Heritage's new exhibit opens on Oct. 15.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage’s new exhibit opens on Oct. 15.
Photo courtesy of the Museum of Jewish Heritage

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is set to open a new exhibition this month commemorating the extraordinary rescue of Denmark’s Jewish population in 1943, when members of the resistance movement helped save thousands of Danish Jews from the Nazis during World War II. 

The exhibit, called “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark,” will open at the Battery Park museum on Oct. 15, and will display first-hand testimonials, archival materials, photographs, recordings, and other artifacts of the efforts, which saw the underground insurgency smuggle more than 7,000 Danish Jews across the water to Sweden, which had remained neutral during World War II.

The opening coincides with the 80th Anniversary of the heroic effort. 

While subjecting themselves to extraordinary risk, Jews and non-Jews alike participated in the rescue operation, and managed to bring 95% of Denmark’s 7,800-person Jewish population to relative safety, rather than being deported to Germany under the orders of Adolf Hitler. 

The new exhibit, which will include considerable educational outreach, is designed for visitors aged 9 and up, and hopes to illustrate the theme of moral courage that is still relevant, and necessary, in modern times. 

“Courage to Act is a special opportunity to reflect on the Holocaust, one of the darkest moments in history, while also considering our individual capacity to act with bravery,” said Regina Skyer, a trustee of the museum. “These are lessons we can all remember in times of moral difficulty, and they’re particularly important for children as they grapple with our past and build our future.”

With the help of the award-winning firm Local Projects, the exhibition will use state-of-the-art technology, such as holograms and immersive visuals to give a haunting and inspiring account of the courageous collective action. 

“We’ve been fortunate to work with Local Projects to bring this innovative exhibition to life and discover new ways to educate the public, particularly young people, through engaging technology,” said Jack Kliger, the museum’s President and CEO. “As the number of Holocaust survivors decreases and we confront resurgent antisemitism, we must proactively engage new generations in the fight for a better world. Our charge is to inspire and equip young people to be compassionate citizens and leaders.”

Ellen Bari, an author and award-winning museum curator, serves as the project director for “Courage to Act,” and says she hopes visitors will be inspired in their own lives by the courageousness of those who helped save Denmark’s Jews.  

“Eighty years later it seems almost impossible that the people of Denmark took such acts of courage,” said Bari. “Yet those who risked their lives to save their neighbors saw it as simply ‘the right thing to do.’ It’s the simplicity of that reasoning that underscores how truly incredible this story is. I am honored to share these acts of courage with young people, as they think about opportunities in their own lives for positive action and their own potential.”

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is located in Battery Park. For tickets, head to their website