Monday, September 10, 2007
As the World War II drew to its close, between 200 and 250 thousand German refugees fled to Denmark from the advancing Red Army. Six months after the war ended, Dr. Kirsten Lylloff became curious as to the great number of babies and children's graves in a cemetery at Aalborg where she used to live and practice. The refugees, mostly women and children, were at first housed in schools and local halls until later in 1945 around 142 camps were set up for them. Danish civilians were forbidden to have any contact whatsoever with the refugees. Dr. Lylloff discovered that by the end of 1945, 13,492 refugees had died in the camps. This included around 7,000 children under the age of five. Most had died from malnutrition, dehydration and curable illnesses such as scarlet fever. Medical assistance was consistently denied the refugees by the Danish medical authorities and the Red Cross. After five years of Nazi occupation from April, 1940 to May, 1945, the Danish authorities were in no mood to play 'nurse' to these unfortunate German refugees. Fear that they would be branded collaborators by the Allies was another factor.