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Resistance and Rescue: Denmark and the Holocaust

June 10–October 1, 2023, Gallery Obscura

During the massive German occupation of much of Europe during World War II, the people of Denmark rescued more than 90% of the country’s Jewish residents from German deportation, brutal internment and starvation, and systemic murder. In the early 1990s, photographer Judy Glickman Lauder took portraits of Danes who had protected or rescued Jews and of Jews who were rescued. The stories accompanying each photograph convey the power of moral courage in confronting hate and atrocities.

The German occupation of Denmark began in April 1940. Unlike in other countries, the Danish government was allowed to continue to control its domestic affairs. For the next three years, Danish Jews were not required to register their property, identify themselves based on their religion, or give up their homes and businesses. The Jewish community continued to function and hold religious services.

Then, in August 1943, the German military commander in Denmark declared martial law, took control over the Danish military and police forces, and implemented a plan to capture and deport Danish Jews. Some German officials warned non-Jewish Danes, who in turn alerted the Jewish community.

Danish authorities, Jewish community leaders, and countless private citizens mobilized a massive operation. The Danish resistance, assisted by many Danish citizens, organized a rescue operation that helped hide Jews and move them to the coast, where fishermen ferried them to neutral Sweden. In just a few weeks, about 7,200 Jews and 700 of their non-Jewish relatives traveled to safety in Sweden.

Despite these rescue efforts, about 470 Jews in Denmark were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto camp in occupied Czechoslovakia, but Danish protests deterred the Germans from transporting them to killing centers. After the war, almost all of the survivors returned to Denmark, where most found their homes and businesses intact because local authorities had refused to allow the seizure or plundering of Jewish homes.

About the Artist

Judy Glickman Lauder is an internationally recognized photographer, humanitarian, and philanthropist. Her work is held in private collections and public institutions around the world, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Her photographs related to the Holocaust were published in the monograph Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception (Aperture Foundation 2018). These photographs are the subject of two traveling exhibitions—Holocaust: The Presence of the Past and Resistance and Rescue: Denmark’s Response to the Holocaust—which have been presented at scores of institutions around the world. Other works by the artist are collected in Upon Reflection: Photographs by Judy Ellis Glickman (2012). She also authored For the Love of It: the Photography of Irving Bennett Ellis (2008) about the work of her father, a physician with a passion for photography, who took several photographs for Eastman Kodak Company advertisements.

Sponsored by Drs. Bruce Barnes and Joseph Cunningham in memory of Moïshé and Rivelé Sztrymfman, who were deported from France and killed at Auschwitz, and in honor of Héna Sztulman, who bravely, steadfastly, and selflessly rescued and protected their son, Isaac.

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About Gallery Obscura

The museum's new Gallery Obscura space features exhibitions created or presented in collaboration with community institutions and school and youth programs, projects focused on Greater Rochester, and exhibitions from the collections that are thematically related to regional events or that support other museum initiatives and programming. 

Exhibition Proposal Submissions 

Please submit exhibition proposals for the Gallery Obscura to [email protected]. Proposals should briefly describe the project and include 6-10 sample images or links to moving media content. Because of the structure of exhibition scheduling, not all proposals can be considered. Single-artist and artist-organized exhibitions will not be considered.