Holocaust memorial

Sometimes, when I look back at my family history I despair a little, so many heroes, so many extraordinary people, that I have to live up to. How can I live up to the person who founded the most brilliant Højskole of Denmark, my great, great grandfather Ernst Trier? What about my own father who died and sacrificed himself for the sake of his people the Bangladeshis? Or my mother who fought so vigorously and unselfishly for my sake? How can I ever compare to these heroes of their time. I do not know, and I suppose time will tell, and perhaps the generations that will follow me will either condemn me or like me.

This is my burden, as all have their burdens to carry, but sometimes I get a little encouraged by the support I get from the memories of the old times. And please, dear reader. There is a story I would like to tell you, the story about my great grandmother Sigrid Trier Hansen, a monumental life of hers, that was intertwined with the fate of Denmark and with the other jews, she tried to help as she had to flee the corrupt machine of Nazi Germany, rolling up through Scandinavia; a rollercoaster fueled by anger, corrupt science, old nordic folkmyths and evil, deceitful arrogance.

This is her story as it unfolded in the aftermath of the purge, the pogrom initiated by the nazis in Denmark, and it all started with a coin.


My Great Grandmother fiddled with her purse, as she brought her finger up to the bell. With a sigh she pushed the button, and a small chime sounded through the door. The door opened and her daughter smiled at her with a nervous twist to her lips. “Please come in, hurry up, we are short of time”.

The old lady, lifted her eyes and said. “There is time, there is always time when you have faith, take it easy dear, I am coming”. With a swirl, she stepped over the doorstep and entered the stately room of her daughter.

“We packed everything mama”, her daughter said, in a nervous staccato voice. Her daughter lifted her hand to the chin of the old lady, put it there in a blink of an eye, and let it rest there, just for a second, perhaps to comfort, perhaps just to feel the chin. ” We need to hurry, the boats are leaving in a few hours, we should be there, or are maybe too late”.

The old lady, looked at her with a furious glance and said. “Do not worry, if we have faith, we will survive. It is our faith always to run, but there will come a day when the running is over, and we will stay in one place. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually the day will come, I can feel, I know. Do not worry, have faith.”

With a sigh the two ladies picked up the luggage and hurried down the stair to drive for the port of Gilleleje, where the fishermen were waiting to bring the old jew into safety.


The wind blew in fierce blasts over the deserted harbour. The small vessels jumped up and down in the water, as the seagulls screamed with their lonely voices over the see. “Again, again” they seemed to scream, as a surreal comment to the small line of jews lining up behind the fishermens boats. Old men, young girls, children, rich, poor, strong and weak were there.

My great grandmother lifted her luggage over the side of the fisherboat, and tried to jump onto the boat. But she was too frail, and she could not jump the half a metre between the boat and the pier.

“Wait, wait” her daughter said, I need to give you something before you go”. With a tired movement of her hips, and a stumbling motion, my great grandmother abruptly turned around. “Please hurry, she said”. “The nazis can be here anytime.”

My grandmother nodded, and dug deep into her pocket. With a cautious movement of her hand, she lifted something. “Gunnar and I, have been saving this for you. It is only to be used in the last emergency, but… you never know”. In her hand a small golden coin glittered in the rays of the waning sun. Perfectly round, minted and presenting the head of the king. A treasure by comparison, dear and expensive. She put out her hand, and slowly reached out for her mother. “Take it”, she said, it might save you. A twittering started in the corner of her eye, and some moist started to clutter beneath her eyes. With a fast movement, she relived her eyes of the moist, and tried with a mixed success to look brave. “Be careful”, she said.

My great grandmother looked in the usual majestic defiance on the sun, and said. “I will return, and as long as I am in Sweden, I will continue to lift the spirit of the Danes. I will talk, and speak and write, all my words will go by heart to the Danes, to lift them up, and make them go through all the nightmares they are facing right now. I will not ever stop, my calling, beware all you antisemitic mongrels and barbarians, all you thiefs and destructors, I will build, not tear down, I will protect not harm”. As she said that, she carefully picked up the coin, and transferred it, cautiously to a secret pocket within her jacket, buttoned the pocket and looked at her daughter, who now looked at her with a small flow of tears streaming down from her bright eyes.

“Thank you”, she said, and “do not worry, I will return before you know it”. With a swift motion of her old hands, she dried up a few of the tears on her daughters chin. “Do not worry, the bad guys always end up taking someone else, I will be fine”.

Her daughter nodded with a sombre mien, but seamed to have collected herself a bit. Small wrinkles appeared on her forehead, wrinkles of defiance and seriosity. “Go, she said, it is time”.

A gnarled fisherman, unceremoniously took hold of my great grandmothers arm a hurled her on deck. “Hurry!”, he yelled. “We need to hurry, the nazis can be here anytime!” With a desperate sprint the old lady ran for the inner cave of the ship, and slowly descended into the maw of the boat. Her luggage spread around her by coincidence and despair. But the gold coin kept secure in the inner pocket of her jacket, secure, as a small token of love given from her dearest, kept as a promise to come home again after the war.


My great grandmother was lucky to reach port after a dramatic voyage over the strait of Øresund. She kept her promise, and talked, spoke and put faith into the Danes as the war went on, and as an honour she was called, by the danes, “Mother Denmark”. As she never stopped her calling, her support and her grundtvigian strive to keep up the spirit of the Danes.

The coin travelled through the family, it was given back to her daughter, who gave to her own daughter, my mother, who gave it to me. As a small token of love, travelled down through the family line, but perhaps also as a charm to remind me of my responsibility that I have tried as a descendant of the proud family of Trier to uphold. Not always perfectly, sometimes in vain, but always as a sincere quest in the service of my country.

Call me stupid, call me ambitious, call me vain, call me anything, but there is one thing nobody can take away from me, and that is my faith. It is my own, and I abide by that. Now, my great grandmother was saved from the Holocaust. Perhaps the coin helped her a little, my Holocaust is a new one. Let us be honest, new nazis are emerging, new perverse deceitful ideologies are cursing and persecuting the jews. As always it is the same story. We are not perfect, but the persecution as of now is unfair, and the Holocaust deniers are just the same as they have always been, sons of darkness and deceit. They crawl along the walls, they hide in the shadow, they try their best to corrupt and destroy, as always.

It is time the new generation stand up and say, as the old generation did. NO! No to persecution, no to lies, no to undercover operations aimed at the heart of good. we need the good guys to stand up and stand with honour and justice, with love and compassion.

That is the lesson of the Holocaust, never again.


Categories: Denmark, Israel, Love, Spirit, war Tags:
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