Join us for a book talk with C. Flemming Heilmann on his translation of Halfdan Lefevre’s The Men in Denmark’s Freedom Council, out now from Telemachus Press! Heilmann will discuss the seminal work first published in Danish in 1945, and his work in translating it for a broader audience.
The Men in Denmark’s Freedom Council is a story of Denmark’s resistance leaders, their underground movement during Nazi occupation and how they coordinated the nation’s freedom fighters to mount military confrontation of the enemy. Their 11-member Freedom Council went on to form a government-in-waiting in anticipation of liberation, to run the country pending restoration of democratic elections. Each member’s family background and career are vividly depicted. Halfdan Lefevre had from the start of World War II, documented the genesis and evolution of the resistance movement and its struggle against Nazi occupation since April 1940. He was the recording scribe for the underground Freedom Council and author of illegal leaflets and news communiques distributed by the resistance. His scholarly account offers details of the German invasion, the government’s quick surrender, and then the emergence of the resistance movement, which led to the establishment of the crucial Freedom Council.
The German invasion came as a shock to the Danes, as they had a non-aggression pact with Germany and just wanted to live in peace. Denmark’s government was replaced by a multiple-party national government which chose to comply with most Nazi demands, so as to survive and minimize the loss of blood and treasure suffered by other countries over-run by the German war machine. This policy was initially accepted by many Danes, but far from all. The narrative relates how resistance cells were spawned across the country. However, they lacked coordination and cohesion which limited their impact and caused overlap and waste. It was the handful of leaders of a group that was to become the Freedom Council, who then initiated coordination and cohesion. In the months after the occupation an embryonic sense of national unity soon emerged, bringing together all classes and political parties. Denmark coalesced as an evolving freemasonry. People cheered their king; gathered in communal singing of national songs, appreciating anew the patriotic lyrics; they took every opportunity to proclaim their Danishness. Shame over the puny military resistance to the invasion prompted the raising of monuments to those who fell during the limited confrontation. Behind broad national solidarity, a rejection of the government’s compromising policies emerged.
This program will take place in-person at Scandinavia House; RSVP required.
About the Author
Christian Flemming Heilmann was born in Malaysia to Danish parents and studied at Cambridge University, where he graduated with degrees in Economics and Law. He has since held executive and CEO positions in the manufacturing sector focused on the consumer goods packaging industry, mainly public companies listed on Johannesburg, Toronto and New York stock exchanges, and has most recently been associated with investment in and management of buy-outs of distressed businesses, with multiple directorships in public and private companies in South Africa, Western Europe, Canada and the USA.
In 2017 he published Odyssey Uncharted, a memoir of World War II childhood and education on four continents, set in mid-20th century history, and in 2019 published his second book, The Unacceptable Face, charting a career on three continents under apartheid, extreme socialism and disparate iterations of capitalism. His translation of Halfdan Lefevre’s The Men in Denmark’s Freedom Council, a 1945 history of the Danish resistance movement under Nazi occupation during WWII, was published in February 2022 by Telemachus Press.