The resistance fighter from Risinge
At the end of the Second World War, leading members of the nobility were censured for having sided with the Nazi occupiers. But that is not the full story; many members of the Danish upper class were active members of the resistance.
It is not easy to track down information about the resistance fighter Jørgen Christian Bille Brahe. However, the local archives in Kerteminde contain a number of fascinating photos. The pictures were taken in 1945 and show the 29-year-old baron wearing the uniform of the Royal Horse Guards, proudly displaying the blue freedom fighters’ armband on his left arm.
There are photos showing him speaking with the local doctor, with other resistance fighters and with leading figures in the Kerteminde resistance movement – including Count Ulrik Knuth from Stenagergaard.
The fact that information about him is hard to come by reflects the somewhat overlooked story of how the Danish nobility made a significant and active contribution to the Danish resistance movement during the Occupation.
Nobles in the resistance movement
In 1943, a new association was set up – ostensibly with the aim of promoting agriculture. It was the work of six members of the Danish upper class, including Jørgen Bille Brahe, Count Ulrik Knuth and Lennart Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Lehn from Hvidkilde. In actual fact, however, the association had been established to organise a major part of the resistance movement on Fyn.
Fully 14 percent of the male Danish nobles were members of the resistance movement. By way of comparison, only 2 percent of the general Danish population were involved with the resistance, a total of 85,000 men and women.
“It’s good for our class”
During the occupation, a number of leading members of the Danish nobility were exposed for their close ties to the Nazis. This reputation could easily spread to the entire upper class – and it was not a stain that was easily washed off. The noble resistance fighters did their work in secret; for obvious reasons.
It was this consideration that was probably weighing on Count Lennart Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Lehn’s mind on the night before he was executed by the Germans. His letter of farewell to his parents contained the following lines:
“Oh, if only I had the sight of your happy faces before me – happy because I gave my life for Denmark. Promise me, oh, promise me, my dear parents, that you will be brave and happy! Remember that it’s good for our class that one of us gave his life for the Dannebrog [the Danish Flag].”
The manor tales are written by Linda Corfitz