Occupied Denmark: German Goals

Figure 1.-- Live in Denmark after the World War II German occupation at first went on for civilians with little change. This photograph was taken by newspaper photographer , Erik Petersen. Four Copenhagen children are pictured here dressed up to celebrate the Shrovetide festival.

The NAZis did not have the racial goals in Denmark that they had in Poland and the East. The intrest in Denmark was to 1) exploit the country economically to support the war effort and 2) make the Danes and Denmark part of the New Order leading to a greater Reich after the War. For the Danish people, there was a minimal German imprint. Few German soldiers werre seen on Danish streerts. Life went on much as before the invasion. The major impact was in the economic sphere. After the military occupation was secured, the German Foreign Ministry attempted to negotiate or more precisely implement an economic union with Denmark (summer 1940). Then Goering and his Four-Year Plan attempted to oversee the Danish economy. Eventually the Reich Economics Ministry took control. The Germans abandoned the idea of economic union. The German persued more limited measures. They established a ministerial Eastern Committee to expand Danish industry in the Eastern areas seized by the Barbarossa offensive (June 1941). The overall NAZI goal was to become the economic center of a self-sufficient continental Europe. Thus German could function and continue the War depite the British naval blockade. A major goal in Denmark as in other occupied areas was to obtain food for the Reich. Denmark wa a food exporter, especially dairy products. Much of that food was marketed in Britain. After the German invasion, agricultural production was redirected to the Reich. [Lund] Here the Germans were very successful. Before the War, less than 25 of Danish exports went to the Reich (1939). This rapidly shifted and the Reich was soon receiving 75 percent of Danish exports (1941). Estimates suggest that during the War, the Danes supplied 10-15 percent of the Reich's food supplies. Also important was Danish cement and naval shipyards. The shipments to Germany without any counterflow of German products caused economuic problems in Denmark. Danes experienced price inflation. The Danish Government was forced to impose food rationing.


Lund, Joachim, Denmark and the ‘European New Order’, 1940–1942 (Cambridge University Press, 2004).


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Created: 6:55 AM 7/10/2006
Last updated: 7:04 AM 10/31/2009