Rivlin participated in a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the rescue of Denmark’s 7,000 Jews by the general population. The country’s entire Jewish population was assisted in hiding from the Gestapo before being sent to Sweden on fishing boats in October 1943.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen also attended the ceremony during which the protesters carried signs saying “stop the hypocrisy,” referring to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the situation in the West Bank.
Representatives of Denmark’s Jewish community and other Danish officials participated in the event, which was held in a Church attic where Danish clergy concealed about 80 Jews before they were sent to safety in Sweden. Jews were also hidden in private homes and in other locations throughout the Scandinavian nation.
Earlier on Thursday, Rivlin placed a wreath at the memorial for the Danish Resistance Movement, which headed the operation to save the country’s Jewish community. The president was accompanied by Danish Defense Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen.
The two-week rescue mission was planned and carried out largely by local authorities and the Danish underground resistance. It was made possible after a tip on Nazi raids on Jews from Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, a German diplomat and attaché based in Copenhagen who's still referred by Danes as "the good German."
More than 90 percent of the community survived and found their possessions intact, guarded by their gentile neighbors, upon their return after the war. About 500 Jews were arrested in Nazi raids and deported to concentration camps.
During the event, the president met with a number of Holocaust survivors who were rescued in the operation including Dan Katznelson, Hanna Skop and Tove Udsholt.
As a child, Tove was adopted by a Danish Christian family. After the war, she chose to remain with her adopted family in Gilleleje, where she still resides.
Hannah fled Nazi Germany to Denmark, along with her family. She, her brother and her mother were then smuggled into Sweden. After the war, she returned to settle in Denmark.
Dan Katzenelson’s family was arrested by the Germans while trying to escape. He and his mother were deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp; they were subsequently sent to Theresienstadt. After the war, Dan returned to Denmark.
On Wednesday, President Rivlin and his wife Nechama met with the Queen of Denmark Margrethe II. Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen was also present.
The president expressed his condolences for the death of Prince Henrik, Queen Margrethe’s husband, earlier this year. He thanked the queen for her efforts to commemorate the rescue of Denmark’s Jews and her positive relationship with the Jewish community and with Israel.
Rivlin spoke of the development of the bilateral relationship between the two countries in civil and security affairs, and of the opening of the Innovation Centre Denmark in Tel Aviv and the boost it is giving to bilateral developments in commerce, science and technology.
He also spoke of the close relationship between Israel and Denmark on matters of health, education and civil administration. Rivlin invited Queen Margrethe to visit Israel in the near future.