Henri Goldstein: “I’ve had a good life as a Jew in Denmark, but there are concerns”

In connection with the publication of his memoirs, entitled “Fragments of a Danish-Jewish Life”, the President of the Jewish community of Denmark, Henri Goldstein gave an interview to the Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper.

You can read an excerpt below:

“As a Jew in Denmark, I have had a good life – even if there have been scratches in the paint

. This year marks 400 years since the first Jews were invited by the king to settle in the kingdom. For centuries there were special conditions for Jewish life in Denmark, but since 1814 Danish Jews have enjoyed equal rights. This was reaffirmed in the Constitution of 1849 and in all revised versions of the Constitution since.

In my childhood home, the rescue of the Danish Jews in 1943 was very important. The 500 or so Jews who were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp had less space in everyday life. This was a flaw in the Danish-Jewish upbringing for those of us born after 1945. That has changed, and today there are detailed descriptions and oral histories of being deported and imprisoned.

When Danish society talks about the Holocaust, for example in the school system, the emphasis is wrongly placed on the fact that the murder of six million European Jews is only one among many genocides.

Every killing is a tragedy, but here it was in Central Europe that it occurred. The Europe that believed itself to be superior to the rest of the world in every respect. Germany captured Jews like animals, degraded them and then murdered them. Baltic peoples, Poles, Ukrainians and Russians took part in this slaughter in the Europe that allowed itself to keep other peoples oppressed in colonies for better or worse – mostly worse.


Antisemitism comes to the fore when Israel is judged on different terms from other countries. When Israel is made the Jew among the nations, as for example in parts of the UN system, it is anti-semitism.

I do not forget a speech by a well-known journalist who, at the end of a TV report, said “you should always take Israel’s statements with a grain of salt”. The nuance was gone. The Israelis are Jews. You know that.

Israel must have untruthful criticism – by definition. Jewish institutions in Denmark are guarded 24 hours a day, and not without reason. So-called anti-Zionists want to kill Danish Jews. The gloss doesn’t matter – it’s antisemitism.


The Danish government, with the support of the Danish Parliament, has launched a plan to combat antisemitism in this country. We as Jews are happy about that – we are grateful for the recognition that antisemitism is a special (old) discrimination that requires a special pattern of action.

The Jewish minority is eagerly awaiting the implementation of the action plan to combat anti-Semitism. We need it, even though we as Jews in this country know that the effect, that is to say less antisemitism, may not be expected for another five or ten years. So it is with educational efforts and cultural changes. We are very happy to participate in the implementation of the action plan. We know the material, that is to say contemporary Jewish life. It includes more than the history of the Holocaust.


As things stand, there is a basis for continued Jewish life in Denmark. But if legislation prohibits the possibility of holding services in the synagogue or circumcising our boys’ children on the eighth day, Jewish life is seriously threatened.

It was a serious blow to Danish Jews when Jewish slaughter, which had been practised for almost 400 years, was banned a few years ago. The Jewish Community was promised imports of meat slaughtered ritually Jewish, so that contemporary Jewish life could continue. It is therefore important that religious freedom does not stop at rituals.

Henri Goldsteins Memoirs: Brudstykker Af Et Dansk-Jødisk Liv (Danish)


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