The Helsingør Crossing
The Helsingør CrossingThe so-called ’Sewing Club’ that raced to save Jewish refugees in WWIIConny Palmkvist
The first-ever full account of one of Europe’s most daring wartime humanitarian operations.
A plucky group of unassuming Danes and Swedish security police risked their lives to orchestrate the safe passage of as many endangered Danish Jews as possible across the Øresund to save them from the grasp of the occupying Nazis.
The four founding members of the group—a bookbinder, police officer, police clerk, and newspaper editor—assumed the seemingly innocuous code name of The Helsingør Sewing Club and, with the help of the police in southern Sweden, they managed to ferry almost 1,500 persecuted Danes to Sweden by the summer of 1944.
Putting his own life on the line, the Sewing Club’s fearless master, Erling Kjaer, dubbed the ‘Red Carnation’, would cruise across the Øresund in whatever boat he and his comrades had been able to procure, from tiny fishing boats to a speed boat, dodging mines and German warships. This is the story of how he and the other anonymous ‘carnations’ in the Danish Resistance collaborated with Swedish counterparts to help fellow humans in their hour of need, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Because it was the right thing to do.
Drawing on previously unpublished first-hand accounts and extensive research into both the Danish and Swedish citizens involved in the operation, Palmkvist completes the picture by weaving together the hitherto untold half of the story to render an engaging historical narrative in the spirit of Antony Beevor.
‘An outstanding book about courage and morality, well substantiated, exciting and at times so moving that I got tears in my eyes and had to take a deep breath before I continued reading.’
— Aftonbladet, critic’s choice
‘In the hands of an inferior stylist, it would’ve become an overly literal and overloaded work. But here, every word finds its place, with selectiveness and restraint and in longer sections the author remains behind the scenes. The fate-heavy, tension-focused, tension-driven material speaks for itself.’
‘Palmkvist brings to life the bookbinder who risked his life to save the Danish Jews.’
— Helsingborgs Dagblad
— Norra Skåne
‘There are stories that need to be told many times, as malign forces want us to forget; they fear the past, because it tells the truth about them. It is such a story that Palmkvist highlights in his reportage, The Helsingør Crossing.‘ — NST
‘The book alternates between relateable, well-researched reportage style and formative, literary elements when the author offers up his narrative and thoughts. It thus becomes a captivating and important depiction of human courage and sacrifice.’ — BTJ ¿¿¿¿¿
‘I just finished reading your book. I sat, with tears in my eyes. Every person reading it will be moved, most to tears, others just overwhelmed as they learn what happened many years ago. I’m not usually at a loss for words, but today I am.’
— Benni Korzen, Academy Award-winning film producer