Denmark records highest number of antisemitic incidents since WWII, part of a grim European trend

FILE - A soldier of the Danish Army (Forsvaret) guards the Copenhagen Synagogue, Saturday Dec. 16, 2023. The number of antisemitic incidents registered in Denmark since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that that ignited the war in Gaza has never been as high, with the head of the Scandinavian country's small Jewish community calling it the biggest wave since World War II. The figures are in par with what has been reported in other European countries. (Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix via AP, File)

By JAN M. OLSEN Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The number of antisemitic incidents registered in Denmark since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that ignited the war in Gaza has reached levels not seen since World War II, the head of the Scandinavian country’s small Jewish community said Thursday.

“We have seen the the biggest antisemitic wave in Denmark since 1943,” when Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, Henri Goldstein, head of the 1,800-strong Jewish Community, told The Associated Press on Thursday. That was the year some 7,200 Danish Jews were evacuated to neutral Sweden to prevent their deportation to a Nazi concentration camp, leaving almost no Jews in Denmark.

The figures, compiled by the community’s security organization, were on a par with reports in other European countries. Goldstein said that “after Oct. 7, we have seen antisemitism on steroids.”

“We have seen a violent escalation, not least fueled by the uncontrolled spread of hatred on social media,” he said, adding that in 2023, “all 121 incidents were Jew-hatred – and not ‘just criticism of Israel.'”

Of the 121 incidents, 20 were death threats “which we have not since since the 1980s,” Goldstein said, referring to threats made then against two leading figures in the Jewish community – an editor-in-chief and the chief rabbi.

Jews in Denmark were advised not to wear Jewish symbols openly, Goldstein said.

Most of the cases involved hate messages, more than half of them online. The report only mentioned known cases of antisemitism but the community said that “the vast majority of antisemitic incidents are never reported.”

Many European countries have registered a rise in reported antisemitic acts and comments since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

There are currently up to 7,000 Jews in Denmark.

Denmark, which was occupied by Nazi Germany from April 1940 to May 1945, was one of the few European countries whose Jewish population was largely saved from the Holocaust. About 95% of Denmark’s Jewish population managed to escape by crossing the narrow waterway from northeastern Denmark to neutral Sweden in a risky rescue mission between September and October 1943.