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Resistance In Denmark

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The occupation of a country subjects both the people and the invaders to a strange game of mutual suspicion: The occupier acts like a new owner and wants the tenants to behave and pay the rent on time, but those invaded feel violated Ð'-- they know the country, by right, belongs to them, and while they cannot physically throw the occupiers out, they may well want to resist the invader's terms. Perhaps, if the invader finds the game is not worth the effort, he will leave. Or perhaps he will start killing uncooperative tenants. But the game gives one major advantage to those occupied: They will define the extent to which they are going to cooperate. And the offender, ironically, will have to defend his ill-gotten gains.

The Danish resisters took the offensive against German occupying forces. Through symbolic and cultural protests, they asserted their right to govern their own lives, and that strengthened public morale Ð'-- which inspired bolder resistance. Through strikes, defiance at work sites, and damage to physical property, nonviolent resisters attacked the economic interests of the invaders. Through underground publishing, an alternate network of communication was established, to subvert the lies of the occupiers' propaganda. By involving so many civilians in strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of opposition, Danish resisters forced the Germans to stop violent reprisals and suspend curfews. They denied the Nazis their prime goal, on which other objectives depended: making the fact of occupation normal.

By definition, a successful military invasion gives the occupier superiority on the ground and in the air, in the ability to use physical force and violence. Despite that, when a military invader loses control of what the people read and believe, of when and if they work, of how they spend their money Ð'-- when the occupiers are constantly on the defensive, as they try to maintain their position Ð'-- their ability to command events is detached from their ability to use violence.

War contorts the history of the nations it touches, but it also exhibits the greatness of their peoples. The Danes challenged the most barbaric regime of the modern period and did so not with troops or tanks but with singing, striking, going home to garden, and standing in public squares. Yet the power they brought to bear in resisting the Nazis did not come only from these things. It came first from the essential decision that tens of thousands of them made, to refuse the terms they were offered by their tormentors Ð'-- and it came from the underground movement they built and



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