Kim Malthe-Bruun was an eighteen year-old young man when he began to keep a diary in the spring of 1941. Many of his entries were written in the form of letters to his girlfriend, even though he was not always in a position where he could actually mail them to her. His style of writing indicated that he used these letters to vent his frustration and anger at the occupation of his country by Germany, which began one year earlier.
Kim had signed on as a seaman on a Danish merchant vessel and was traveling to various North Sea ports at this very critical time in the war. His entry on June 27, 1941 was written only 5 days after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The entire region was bristling with wartime activity and Kim was aware that danger was ever-present. There was always the possibility that merchant vessels could be boarded and searched. Also, he knew that censors would most likely read his correspondence. For these reasons, he had to be very careful with his words. On this day he wrote, “I can’t, or rather I’m not permitted to write much, and nothing about where we are. We are continually on the move to avoid you know what. Please write even if you don’t hear from me. I’ve written a letter to you which you probably won’t get because I wrote a lot of things that I shouldn’t have. It’s ‘hot’ here and getting ‘hotter’ all the time, but the gods just have to help me get back to you. I can’t bear the thought of being separated from you and don’t know how I’ll get through the time that lies ahead.”
Kim was torn between two desires. On one hand, he wanted to stay safe until the war was over, so that he could reunite with his loved ones. On the other hand, he loathed the German occupation of Denmark and wanted to do something to resist the invaders. In 1943, he decided to leave the merchant vessel and join the Danish underground resistance movement. Unfortunately, he was captured by the Germans and was executed a few weeks before the end of the war. Ten years after the war, some of Kim’s diary and letters were edited and published in book form by his mother.
You may read about Kim Malthe-Bruun’s experiences in the book titled: by Laurel Holliday.
You may find out more about the Danish resistance to the German occupation here.
December 10, 2015 at 6:00 PM
Teacher Forum: Josef Mengele
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