Friday, November 17, 2006

The most important fact in my country’s history: Denmark

Painting by Niels Simonsen, Frederiksborg Slot.

So for this one I'm going to quote the Danish poet Klaus Rifbjerg's essay Oh! To be Danish.

"If we look at the country's history and geography, then two things have been decisive in making us what we are: We are surrounded by water, and we've lost all the wars we've fought since the year dot. [...]

Most Danish kings have consistently managed to support the losing side. Every time the country threw itself headlong into battle, defeat was guaranteed. It cost us our Swedish possessions, the loss of Norway and the duchies in the south, and when the Napoleonic wars arrived, we not only had to hand over our navy to the English, but our allies were so kind as to come to our assistance, giving the Spanish mercenaries the chance to burn Koldinghus to the ground. In 1864, the Prussians and the Austrians captured a large part of South Jutland, and if anybody thinks that the Three Years' War was a "real" victory, they need only look at the records which tell a very different story. During the German occupation between 1940 and 1945, there were twice as many people engaged in active service on the German side than there were members of the resistance. Attempts have since been made to convince the population that the resistance movement won the war, but deep down we know that isn't true. The thing that brought us almost unscathed through the Second World War was a policy based on compromise and compliance, common sense and a well-developed ability to recoup outward losses by inward gains."
The picture at the top of this post is from the Danish withdrawal at Battle of Dybbøl in 1864 where the Danish army was defeated by the Germans.

March 21st 2003 Denmark joined the US-led coalition in Iraq and for the first time since 1864 Denmark has declared war on another state.


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