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Refugees

At least 2.400 individuals escaped to Denmark during WWI.

One of Southern Jutland’s greatest heroines is the Girl from Kamtrup – Karen Poulsen (1888-1981). She helped 200-400 refugees cross the border into Denmark.

During WWI, escape attempts also took place across the border at Gelsbro. In 1915, Hans Peter Hansen from Tiset and his fiancée were successful in reaching the other side, settling in Seem after the war. Peter Madsen, likewise from Tiset, was not so lucky. He failed to make it across and was sentenced to five years in jail for attempting to escape.

Escape to Denmark

While historians estimate that at least 2.400 individuals escaped to Denmark during WWI, attempts at escape did not always end well. An unknown refugee is buried near Varminglund. When he tried to pass the border illegally, he was challenged and shot. The locals buried him in the ditch and laid an iron bar across the spot.

Karen Poulsen from Kamtrup

Karen Poulsen (1888-1981)One of Southern Jutland’s greatest heroines is the Girl from Kamtrup – Karen Poulsen (1888-1981). She helped 200-400 refugees cross the border into Denmark. Her fiancé was killed during the world war in 1914, and the people smuggling began in 1915 after she had helped one of her brothers when he deserted.

She gained positions as a servant in farms close to the border and bribed German border guards to look the other way.

Karen Poulsen came into the German authorities’ searchlight, and on 21 November 1917, she herself had to escape to Denmark.

After the war, she married a baker, Johannes Hemming Erik Ditmar Hansen. They ran a confectionery in Copenhagen and are buried south of the city, in Koege.

Karen Poulsen bei Gelsbro 1916
Karen Poulsen at Gelsbro 1916

 

The German Customs Office in Gelsbro

During WWI, escape attempts also took place across the border at Gelsbro. In 1915, Hans Peter Hansen from Tiset and his fiancée were successful in reaching the other side, settling in Seem after the war. Peter Madsen, likewise from Tiset, was not so lucky. He failed to make it across and was sentenced to five years in jail for attempting to escape.

Peter crossed the border during farm-working

Peter and Iver were brothers. They lived on a farm called Bavngaard on Koldingvej 74 – which had been a German customs office up until 1907. The farms’ fields touched the border into Denmark in two corners. Peter was at home on leave from the war effort. One day, he and his brother went out to spread manure on the field – up and down, along its boundary, where the German border guards were patrolling. The brothers made sure to “walk in step” with the Germans, so that they had their backs to them on every second turn, with the result that the brothers were out of shooting range at one point, and quietly but surely could cross the border successfully.

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