“We shall never forget this historic act,” Peres tells Crown Prince Frederik.
Following the invasion of Denmark by the Nazis, more than 7,500 members of the Danish Jewish community were ferried in small boats to unoccupied Sweden to escape persecution, a measure financed by the Danish king at the time.
This was a courageous deed by Denmark’s citizens from all walks of life who did not hesitate to act when it was necessary, Peres said. “We shall never forget this historic act,” he told the prince.
Frederik’s visit is in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the rescue. Earlier Wednesday, he attended a memorial ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, where he toured the site. It was “fantastic to be in Israel,” Frederik said.
The president also thanked Denmark for its present day participation in the Middle East peace process, in particular its funding of a health project which trains Palestinian doctors in the treatment of illness for which they were previously unequipped.
The prince, who was accompanied by Danish Minister for Education Christine Antonini, is not only the first Danish royal to visit Israel, but the first Scandinavian royal.
In addition to the President’s staff, the prince was greeted in Danish by fellow countrymen and former government minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, who is descended from seven generations of Danish rabbis and whose son is currently in Denmark working as a rabbi.
When Peres started to tell the prince about the Melchior family’s history, the prince said he was familiar with his father Rabbi Bent Melchior, the former Chief Rabbi of Denmark, who was one of the keynote speakers at the 70th anniversary commemorations in Copenhagen.
Frederik later attended a special commemorative concert at the Jerusalem Theater marking the 70th anniversary of the rescue.