Danish Queen Margrethe II and German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck inaugurated a new museum on Saturday dedicated to refugees who have made the Nordic country their home.
Flugt – Denmark’s Refugee Museum – was established on the site of a former refugee camp in Oksboel, a town near the west coast of Denmark and only 95 kilometers (60 miles) from the border with Germany .
Museum director Claus Kjeld Jensen said the museum intends to tell the story of the biggest refugee flow Denmark has ever seen, referring to the 250,000 Germans who fled to the country at the end of the day. end of World War II.
Tens of thousands of German refugees were buried in the Oksboel camp.
The museum said it is also committed to highlighting the plight of today’s refugees, including those from Vietnam, Chile, Bosnia, Syria, Afghanistan and, more recently, Israel. Ukraine.
Large video screens have been installed at the museum where visitors can hear the stories of the refugees in their own words.
“Being a refugee is not something you decide. It’s not a personal choice, it’s something that happens,” said Sawsan Gharib Dall, a stateless Palestinian woman born in a refugee camp in Lebanon. and who lived there until she ran away and arrived in Denmark in 1985, says in a video.
Opened to the public on June 29, the museum was funded by private donations, the German federal government and the government of Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein.
Danish Queen Margrathe II and German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck attended the museum’s opening
What was the Oksboel refugee camp?
Some 250,000 Germans fled the Soviet Red Army to German-occupied Denmark during the final months of World War II.
Oksboel was the largest of several facilities set up to house refugees and around 37,000 people were placed there from 1945 to 1949.
The camp was guarded by armed soldiers and barbed wire fences, and nutrition and medical care were poor.
But it had its own mayor, city council, court and police department. The refugees have also established a number of churches, hospitals, schools and even a cinema.
Most of the newcomers to Denmark were women, children and the elderly, and at one point they made up 5% of the total population.
However, a 2005 The Spiegel The article reveals how thousands of German refugee children died from malnutrition and a lack of medicine for curable diseases.
At the time, Germany’s reputation was so tarnished that Danish doctors refused to treat them unless their disease posed a risk to the general population.
Around 37,000 Germans were housed in the Oksboel refugee camp in the post-war years
Danes criticized for immigration limits
More than 650,000 of Denmark’s 5.8 million people are immigrants, and 208,000 are listed in state statistics as descendants of immigrants.
However, the museum opens at a time when Denmark has imposed more limits on migration, a move that has drawn international criticism.
According to government statistics, only 2,717 people have applied for asylum in Denmark this year.
Denmark received only a small part of the more than one million people who arrived from Africa and the Middle East during the 2015 migration crisis.
More than 11,500 people applied for asylum in Denmark, while 1.1 million did so in Germany and 163,000 in Sweden in 2015.
In 2016, a law was passed allowing authorities to seize jewelry and other property from refugees to help fund housing and other services.
In practice, it has only been implemented a handful of times.
Denmark has revoked residence permits for some Syrian refugees declaring parts of Syria “safe”.
The government in Copenhagen has also toyed with the idea of opening camps for asylum seekers in Rwanda, although it still does not have an agreement in place, unlike Britain.
mm/sms (AP, dpa)