Digest>Archives> August 2007

Danish Lighthouse Tender’s Amazing Role In History


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Photo by: Doug Bingham

Shown here is the Danish Lighthouse Tender Gerda III that was built to service the lighthouses of Denmark, but later the 20-ton vessel along with its brave crew of four played a major role in the events of World War II

At the height of World War II more than 7,000 Danish Jews were smuggled out of Denmark to safety in Sweden. It all happened from the fishing harbor at Gilleleje where about one fifth of all Danish Jews escaped.

One survivor, Leif Wassermann, recalled that his father carried him down into the dark hull of the vessel in the middle of the night and remembered the hushed voices and the crowded condition. He said, “We stayed very low on the floor, we heard there were German patrols outside and we saw flashlights outside.” Although the lighthouse tender was boarded by German patrols they were not discovered and made it to safety.

The Gerda II, which made more than a dozen trips back and forth with Jewish families hidden on board, is now on display at the Mystic Seaport in Mystic Connecticut.

However, let us not forget that although the vessel itself played a major role in war, it was the members of the four-man crew of the lighthouse tender who risked their lives to save others.

This story appeared in the August 2007 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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