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1947-1950 execution site 

  
 1Stars10px  - darkometer rating: 4 -
  
execution site 1947 1950 A rather obscure and nearly forgotten site on the edge of Christiania in Copenhagen where Nazi collaborators from the occupation during WWII were executed after their controversial trials in post-war Denmark.

>More background info

>What there is to see

>Location

>Access and costs

>Time required

>Combinations with other dark destinations

>Combinations with non-dark destinations

>Photo

   
More background info: for the general background of the Nazi occupation of Denmark see under Frihedsmuseet.
  
The Danes were not all about resistance during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Denmark from 1940 to 1945. There were also Danish Nazis who collaborated out of conviction as well as some utilitarians who profited materially from collaboration. And, as in France and elsewhere, there were also women who had affairs with German soldiers during that time.
  
After liberation in May 1945, the tables turned drastically. There was a general mood for reprisals and revenge. So punishment of Nazi collaborators became an immediate pressing issue in post-war Denmark. The reinstated Danish legal system within weeks after liberation began contriving amendments to the penal code. And under pressure from the public mood this included bringing back the death penalty, which had formally been abolished in Denmark in 1930.
  
The new laws were approved in parliament but remain controversial. The main issue was that the laws allowing for capital punishment were so-called “ex post facto” laws, i.e. they would apply retroactively to deeds that at the time they were committed would not have been punishable by death. The opposite end of “ex post facto” laws is amnesty, when a milder form of punishment (or no punishment at all) is chosen than would have been the law at the time of the deed. That’s the less controversial form and is more widely accepted. However, “ex post facto” laws that prescribe a heavier form of punishment retroactively are seen as not permissible in many countries’ constitutions and such a ban also forms part of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the equivalent in the USA (though not in Great Britain).
  
At the time, however, as Danish resentments towards the occupation and collaborators still ran high, such reservations were a minority view.
  
And so the Danish Collaborator Trials took place in Copenhagen and sentences were handed down between 1947 and 1950. Well over 10,000 persons stood trial and were sentenced as collaborators or traitors, but only just over a hundred were indeed sentenced to death. Out of these, 78 sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court. No foreigners were sentenced to death, only Danes, and this included only two women. Several of the sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment (including for the two women). But still, 42 death sentences were carried out, namely by firing squad at two locations. Twenty-nine of these at a then military site in Christianshavn right in Copenhagen.
  
A wooden shed on a concrete foundation with a drain in the centre was erected and the executees had to stand inside facing the firing squad on the open side of the shed.
  
This wooden shed was later dismantled so only the concrete foundation remains at the site today.
  
  
What there is to see: not much at all. There is only the old, now cracked, concrete foundation plate of the former execution shed left in situ. The metal drain in the centre of the plate, presumably for washing away blood, was hardly visible when I was there in August 2023 because of grass that had grown in and around it. But I’ve seen older photos (e.g. here – external link, opens in a new tab) that must have been taken when the site was still in better shape or had been cleaned up (the cut grass around the edges does suggest that too). Another difference was that I found the foundation surrounded by a set of small boulders. These must have been placed there later. Why I cannot say.
  
There is no commodification of any sort at the site, no memorial or information plaque, no fence, no nothing. If you don’t know what you’re looking at this would be totally unremarkable. And I should guess most people walking past this secluded site these days indeed won’t pay any attention to it at all.
  
  
Location: in a forlorn, secluded, leafy place on the old outer ramparts of Copenhagen in what these days is part of the Freetown of Christiania, towards its northern end, a bit under 1 km (950 yards) from the bridge that connects the outer ramparts to the inner ones and the centre of Christiania proper.
  
Google Maps locator: [55.67995, 12.61357]
  
  
Access and costs: a bit hidden, but not too difficult to track down; free
  
Details: only reachable on foot or by bicycle (cars and motorbikes are banned in this part of Christiania and there’s no public transport). Coming from the south first walk all the way through the main part of Christiania with all its counterculture life and head to the second bastion to the east. Here there’s a footbridge crossing the wide moat to take you to the outer ramparts. Turn left and carry on along the path until you come to the third of the old military V-shaped red-brick buildings (now all converted). The site is near the tip of the V on your right.
  
Coming from the north, e.g. from the Skibene på Holmen Cold War and Navy museum, head east and cross the moat on Refshalevej. Turn right into Forlandet and then take the first right into the path along the outer ramparts (by the no-cars sign beyond the car park here). Head south until you come to the first V-shaped red-brick building and the site will be on your left at the tip of the V-shape in the grass.
  
The location is freely accessible at all times, but to actually see it you’d want to get there in daylight, of course.
  
  
Time required: just a short moment to locate the site, and to stay for a minute or so of reflection before moving on.
  
    
Combinations with other dark destinations: in general see under Copenhagen.
  
Geographically the nearest other dark site would be the Skibene på Holmen Cold War and Navy museum to the north-west (see directions above). And of course the main part of Christiania to the south-west.
  
More closely related thematically, however, would be the Danish Resistance Museum and Mindelunden, but these are a good distance away.
  
  
Combinations with non-dark destinations: see under Copenhagen.
  
  
   
  • execution site 1947-1950 execution site 1947-1950
  
  
  
  

 

 

  

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