April 9

Denmark had a very brief baptism of fire during WWII. On April 9, 1940 the German Army swept across the unfortified border while simultaneously landing paratroops (the first use of such in combat) and conducting seaborne landings as well. The Danish government, which had been controlled by socialists in the 1920s and 30s, had gutted the military and, while the rest of Europe was girding for the next war, the Danes were laying off career officers, disbanding regiments and basically burning the bridge before they even crossed it.

This made the German invasion, launched at 0400 that morning, a walkover of sorts and by 0800 the word had come down from Copenhagen to the units in the field to stand down and just let it happen. That doesn’t mean isolated Danish units didn’t bloody the Germans up a bit. In fact, they inflicted some 200 casualties on the invaders while suffering relatively few (36) of their own. (More on that in detail here)

There is an upcoming movie from Nordisk Film on that desperate fight scheduled for release next month on the 75th anniversary of that scrap and it doesn’t look half bad.

“In the early morning of April 9th 1940 the Danish army is alerted. The Germans have crossed the border; Denmark is at war against Europe’s strongest army. In Southern Jutland Danish bicycle- and motorcycle companies are ordered out, to against all odds, hold back the forces until the Danish reinforcements can be mobilized. In the fatal hours, we follow second lieutenant Sand (Pilou Asbæk) and his bicycle company – they will as the first Danish soldiers meet the enemy in combat on April 9th 1940.”

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