The purpose of this survey is to give a brief introduction to the annual May 4 th ceremony at “Mindelunden in Ryvangen”. “Mindelunden is the official site dedicated to the memory of the Danish resistance fighters who fell victim to the Nazi occupation of Denmark from 1940 to 1945.
Is the date of the Danish liberation May 4 th or May 5 th ? The answer is that both dates are correct. May 5 th is the official date, and the reason for this is as follows:
On May 4 th 1945 at ab. 20:30 The British Broadcasting Corporation announced that the German troops in the Netherlands, North Western Germany and Denmark had surrendered. People spontaneously tore down the curtains needed for the obligatory blackout the Germans had imposed. Instead, candles were lit and placed in window sills, and large crowds of happy people rushed into the streets to celebrate the hard won freedom. However, the official German surrender was not in effect until 8:00 hours the next morning, and consequently the official day of liberation is May 5 th.
Although May 5 th is now recognised as the official day of liberation, is has become a recurrent tradition to arrange candlelight in the windows in the evening of May 4 th . To emphasise the importance of the message broadcast on this evening the annual celebration ceremony always takes place on May 4 th.
This year (2016) the ceremony will begin at 7:20 p.m and conducted with the of “Kammeraternes Hjælpefond”, a foundation established in 1945, whose primary purpose has been to support the resistance fighters and their families. Thousands of people of all ages usually participate, so it is advisable not to be late for the initial proceedings. We regret that no seating arrangements can be made during the ceremony.
The programme for this year’s ceremony:
- a welcoming speech.
- hymns will be played by the Danish Home Guards Orchestra accompanied by N. Zahle’s Choir. In some the public may join in.
- a speech by former secretary of foreign affairs Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
- additional concluding songs.
20:45 p.m.: the celebration officially closes, but the public will have access to the monument.
After the official ceremony has come to an end, the N. Zahle Choir will sing in various locations at “Mindelunden”, i.e. at the commemorative tables for those who died in German concentration camps and were never found; at the plaques for those who succumbed in the KZ camps, but who were brought back and interred in Danish soil.
Finally, the choir will sing in the section of the park where Danish martyrs were executed by German firing squad in front of wooden poles after having been sentenced to death.
A visit to “Mindelunden” is always a rewarding event, no matter the time of the year. But if you happen to be in Denmark on the 4 th of May, do yourself a favour and come to “Mindelunden” to attend the ceremony. Even though speeches and songs are in Danish, you will be certain to find a peaceful and captivating atmosphere there.
The ceremony starts usually on 20.00 (08:00pm) - the music start on 19.40 (7:40pm).Usually several thousand in all ages attends the ceremony so it is advisable to be there no later than 19.30 (7.30pm)