Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz

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Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz

Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz (29 September 1904, Bremen – 16 February 1973) was an attache for Nazi Germany who warned the Danish Jews about their intended deportation during the German Second World War occupation of Denmark in 1943 and arranged for their reception in Sweden. It is estimated that he prevented the deportation of 95% of Denmark's Jews in the resulting rescue of the Danish Jews.

Early life[edit]

Duckwitz was born on 29 September 1904 in Bremen, Germany[1] to an old patrician family in the Hanseatic City.[2] After college, he began a career in the international coffee trade.


In the 1930s Duckwitz was a businessman trading with Scandinavian countries. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and worked for Alfred Rosenberg's foreign policy office but eventually left to work for the Hamburg America Line shipping company. In 1939 the Third Reich assigned him to the German embassy in Copenhagen as a maritime attaché.

Rescue of the Jews in Denmark[edit]

After 1942, Duckwitz worked with the Nazi Reich representative Werner Best, who organized the Gestapo (German secret police). On 11 September 1943 Best told Duckwitz about the intended round-up of all Danish Jews on 1 October. Duckwitz travelled to Berlin to attempt stopping the deportation through official channels.[3] That failed and he flew to Stockholm two weeks later, ostensibly to discuss the passage of German merchant ships. While there, he contacted Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson and asked whether Sweden would be willing to receive Danish Jewish refugees. In a couple of days, Hansson promised them a favourable reception.[citation needed]

Back in Denmark on 9 September, Duckwitz contacted Danish social democrat Hans Hedtoft and notified him of the intended deportation. Hedtoft warned the head of the Jewish community C.B. Henriques and the acting chief rabbi Marcus Melchior, who spread the warning. Sympathetic Danes in all walks of life organized a mass escape of over 7,200 Jews and 700 of their non-Jewish relatives by sea to Sweden.[4]

Duckwitz lived in Frieboeshvile Lyngby Hovedgade 2, Kongens Lyngby.

Duckwitz, apparently assuming that he had done everything he could and possibly fearing exposure to the Gestapo, went back to his official duties.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

After the war, Duckwitz remained in the German foreign service. In 1955-1958 he served as West German ambassador to Denmark and later as the ambassador to India. When Willy Brandt became Foreign Minister in 1966, he made Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz Secretary of State in West Germany´s Foreign Office. Duckwitz remained in this position until his final retirement in 1970. On 21 March 1971 the Israeli government named him Righteous Among the Nations and included him in the Yad Vashem memorial. He died two years later, aged 68.

Portrayal in movies[edit]

Duckwitz was portrayed by Patrick Malahide in the film Miracle at Midnight.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Frye, Amelia. "G. F. Duckwitz and the Citizens of Denmark". Archived from the original on 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  2. ^ "Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz Righteous Among the Nations". Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  3. ^ Frye, Amelia. "G. F. Duckwitz and the Citizens of Denmark". Archived from the original on 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  4. ^ Denmark, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,