European Days of Jewish Culture / European Days of Jewish Culture 2024


A very active cultural space, the Danish Jewish Museum has co-organized two major events dedicated to the 400th anniversary of Danish Jewish life and the 80th anniversary of the courageous rescue undertaken by the Danish people during the Holocaust to save their Jews. Interview with Janus Møller Jensen, Director of the Danish Jewish Museum, who tells us about these two events and the even greater importance of sharing them since October 7, 2023.

View of the new entry of the Danish Jewish Museum
Entry of the Danish Jewish Museum. Photo courtesy of the DJM

Jguideeurope: Are you participating in the European Days of Jewish Culture? If so, which events are organized?
Janus Møller Jensen:
We are taking part in the Jewish Culture Festival with guided tours through the city of Copenhagen into Danish Jewish History. Together with the Jewish Information Centre and the Jewish Community, in 2022 we produced a huge map of Jewish Copenhagen taking you through all 400 years of Jewish life in Denmark. It was later developed into a tour through the city as part of a larger project of creating walks through Danish cultural history and heritage throughout the country that have been very popular. We have distributed more than 20.000 maps in Danish and English over the past two years. The curated walk can be seen here: It contains stories of Jewish life, fairy tales and beer – how? You have to come …

This summer, the Danish Jewish Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary on 6 June (the official date is 8 June). In the autumn we are planning two special exhibitions on the rescue and 400 years of Jewish life in Denmark. The exhibition about the fate of the Danish Jews in October 1943 is now travelling in Germany and will arrive at the museum in October. The wandering exhibition about 400 years of Jewish life in Denmark has travelled throughout the country in 2023 and 2024 and will return to Copenhagen in November with stories of Jewish life from a number of cities in Denmark. Where traces of Jewish life, such as burial grounds, are still visible and act as physical reminders of the common Dano-Jewish heritage. Finally we are launching an aquavit – Isidor Aquavit – to tell the story of how the Jewish immigrant Isidor Henius (1820-1901) came to Denmark from Turin in Prussia (present day Poland) in 1838 to revolutionize Danish production of aquavit. We do this to honor his contribution to the development of both Danish industry and food culture. It is made in close collaboration with Nyborg Distillery – a unique product with an excellent taste! And of course it is kosher: (yes it is me pouring the distillate of sweet gale into the aquavit on the picture – it required a lot of tasting to get it right 😊)

What were the major events on the 80th anniversary of the rescue of the Danish Jews?

Last year, the 80th commemoration of the rescue of the Danish Jews were marked and celebrated not just in Denmark, but around the world. The Danish Jewish Museum was involved in commemorative events in Paris, Vancouver, Ottawa and Washington. And at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York an exhibition opened dedicated to “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” with objects from our collection included. It is an amazing exhibition targeted children and families but relevant for all – especially in light of current events. In Denmark the highlight was undoubtedly the official commemoration at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen and the international seminar with a commemorative event in Gilleleje (from where many Jews escaped to Sweden) on the 8-10th October. It was held the days immediately following the attack on Israel, which naturally cast long shadows over the commemorative events. Queen Margrete II of Denmark took part in both commemorative event as well as prime minister Mette Frederiksen and foreign minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. At the museum, we worked hard to create both the visual identity for the commemorative events as well as developing the central homepage, besides the time taken for organizing lectures, exhibitions and publishing books (see We were involved in creating educational material and other publications such as children’s books, graphic novels, etc. Together with the Ghetto Fighters House Museum in Israel we assisted in developing an educational material that has become available in English, Hebrew, Arabic, Danish and other languages are on their way. Part of this material is an animated movie about the flight and rescue of the late rabbi Bent Melchior and his family in October 1943 made by Humanity in Action called Voices in the void. It’s a wonderful film. The English version was officially published in December 2022 at the Perez Centre in Tel Aviv and the Danish version at the National Museum in Copenhagen introduced by the minister of justice Peter Hummelgaard. That was special to us as we participated in or hosted both events. The commemoration was huge, but also severely affected by the attack on Israel and the subsequent war.

Do you perceive an evolution in the interest related to Danish Jewish heritage in the recent years?

After two huge commemorations – the 400th anniversary of Jewish life in Denmark in 2022 and the 80th commemoration of the rescue in 2023 – we do feel an increased interest. The museum and the story of Jewish life and presence in Denmark is more relevant than ever and we are working with colleagues throughout the country to put further emphasis on this. However, we also experience resistance even cancelling of Danish Jewish history in light of events in the Middle East. Some fear for security – or use that as a pretext – others are afraid that a visit to the museum or dealing with Danish Jewish history could be mistaken for taking sides in the conflict. However, we continue to tell the important history of both Jewish life in Denmark and the flight and rescue in October 1943 that have become even more relevant than ever.