Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A not-so-great Dane, and the Reign in Spain

DANISH NAZI recruiting poster. They fought for Hitler against "Bolshevism" on Eastern front and in Baltic countries.

DENMARK has an almost unique right to pride and claim to affection for what its people did during the dark days of Nazi rule in Europe. On October 1-2, 1943, when the Nazis came for Denmark's Jews they found mostly empty homes. More than 7,000 people, the majority of the Danish Jews and some German refugees, had been alerted and assisted to escape overnight, fishing boats, ferries and tugs taking them over the narrow sound to Sweden.

But Denmark's wartime history wasn't all humanity and resistance. Even before the war the newspaper Jyllands-Posten had earned the name Jyllands Pesten, Jutlands' Plague, by its enthusiastic welcome for Hitler's rise to power in Germany, approving the measures taken against the Jews and the labour movement, and longing to see a similar regime in Denmark.

Within days of the Nazis invading the Soviet Union a Freikorps Danmark was being recruited to reinforce the Germans. (About a quarter of the recruits were from the German minority).

Jyllands Posten might have been forgotten if it was not still going today, and made its name as the newspaper which published offensive cartoons attacking Muslims. Much was the joy in the United States, as some Muslims reacted as though conditioned to this provocation. Four young men who took part in a 300-strong London protest have been jailed for inciting "murder" and "racial hatred". In Iran a paper invited cartoons about the Nazi Holocaust by way of retaliation, thereby displaying either ignorance or deliberate displacement of the issues.

Just how misplaced were both the Western enthuthiasm for Danish liberty and the Iranian assumption of blame may be gleaned from this further example of Denmark's freedom of expression:

Holocaust denier using Danish gov't grants to study SS
By Amiram Barkat and Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondents
A Danish Holocaust denier obtained government funding for his studies on the involvement of Danes in Hitler's SS, the Danish newspaper Information revealed Wednesday. The paper reported that Erik Haaest received grants totaling 100,000 Danish krone from the Danish Arts Council, a government-funded body, in 2004 and 2006. In a conversation with the Danish paper earlier this week, Haaest called Anne Frank's diary a "forgery" and refused to renounce earlier publications in which he wrote that the gas chambers never existed and that the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust has been greatly exaggerated.
The Arts Council said in response that it does not deal in censorship and "it is not our job to judge [people's] opinions." Holocaust denial is not illegal in Denmark, though it is in many other Western European countries, including Austria, which jailed British Holocaust denier David Irving in 2005.

Meanwhile in Spain...

SOME people do take cartoons seriously. Spanish police have raided newsagents across the country to seize copies of a satirical magazine which had a front page cartoon deemed insulting to the monarchy.

The cartoon on the front page of El Jueves commented on a government decision to give families 2,500 Euros (£1,680) for each new child. It showed Crown Prince Felipe, the heir to the Spanish throne, "on the job" with his wife Letitia.

"Do you realise what it will mean if you get pregnant?" asked the prince's speech bubble. "This is going to be the closest thing to work that I've ever done".

Honestly! Is nothing sacred?

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