Holdningsændringer i københavnsk presse mellem 1941 og 1943
John T. Lauridsen: Hot work.
Changes in attitudes in the Copenhagen press between 1941 and 1943
The position of the Danish press and the behaviour of the Foreign Ministry’s press
centre during the German occupation have only been examined sporadically and inadequately.
This is illustrated taking outset in Politiken’s crime correspondent, Vilhelm
Bergstrom’s diary and articles recording two court cases involving communists in 1941
and 1943. The legal proceedings in both cases were commissioned and orchestrated
by the German occupation forces, using Danish courtrooms as the backdrop. In 1941,
the Foreign Ministry’s press centre called on newspapers to write about the case, but in
1943 the head of the centre remained silent while the drama unfolded as the Germans
wanted. There was also a clear difference between the press coverage in 1941 and 1943.
In 1941, the majority of the press coverage was about an international terrorist story
centred on communism as the villain, and there was no lack of violent outcomes in
newspaper leaders. None of them cast a thought for the mindless contribution they
were making to the occupying forces’ anti-communist propaganda. The backdrop for
this was widespread anti-communism in Denmark.
The situation had changed in 1943. It dawned on journalists that they had served
the interests of the occupying forces in their coverage of a brutal murder committed
by communists in 1936, and they wrote their reports on the 1943 case with this in
mind. They were more restrained, even though the murder story in itself was juicy
stuff in peaceful Denmark. As one of the journalists noted, it was time to think about
the future, with the advance of the USSR after the German defeat at Stalingrad, the
political landscape could change very quickly, so it was a bad idea to have been a mere
mouthpiece for the occupying forces. Reflection had taken over.