“Da bedstefar var dreng og Danmark var i krig”. Almindelige danskeres erindringer og selvbiografier om Besættelsen 1940-45
Lene Eklund-Jürgensen: “Da bedstefar var dreng og Danmark var i krig” (When grandfather was a boy and Denmark was at war). Memories and autobiographies of ordinary Danish people concerning the Occupation 1940–45
In the last few years, the Dansk Historisk Bibliografi (Danish Historical Bibliography) database has included a number of autobiographies covering the period 1940–45. These collections of accounts provide a voice for ordinary Danes, describing how they as children experienced the occupation and how since then, they have reflected over that period of their lives. The authors’ autobiographies build up a narrative about the occupation, drawing on both personal experiences and memories and events the authors have been witness to, as well as the memories and experiences of other people that they have heard about or read about. It can often be difficult to separate the memories of these personal experiences from more general reported experiences that many Danes experienced. Autobiographies’ memories from periods other than 1940–45, are strongly egocentric and focus on private experiences, in contrast to the memories about the occupation which focus on the period as a collective experience. This narrative provides a personal angle, where the author’s own experiences are added as a supplement to the overall Danish experience. Most often what is described is the how the authors’ families lived during the war and especially, what their parents did during the war and what they experienced during the war. Often, the authors were too young to remember more than voices and scattered dramatic episodes from the occupation. In general, many of the authors personally remember the military planes that flew overhead and episodes relating to the air battles above Denmark. In addition, the authors describe everyday life, the Germans and the first and last day of the occupation. The episodes, experiences and events that the authors draw on in their autobiographies have been described many times before, but the autobiographies provide a double perspective of the occupation, where the authors both recount their childhood memories and at the same time reflect upon these memories many years later. The autobiographies are excellent source material to study the culture of reminiscing and the use of history.