John Oram Thomas
This book is a historical work about Germany's occupation of Denmark in 1940 until 1945. Before the beginning of World War 2 Denmark was the only country to have signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939. On the 9th April 1940 the German troops invaded Denmark with no warning. Thomas talks about all the underground movements that took place to get Germany out of Denmark. Thomas makes the reader aware of all the different types of resistance groups and movements that managed to successfully remove Germany from Denmark. Some of these were The Princes, Dansk Samling, Dansk Ungdomssamvirke (a youth Organisation), and the most important instrument for maintaining Danish nationalism, the Press.
Thomas defines the aim of his book clearly within his introduction:
This book makes no pretence of being a full history of those stirring times. I have tried only to tell the stories of some of the men and women who played their part in the fight for freedom and, through them, to pay tribute to the many who suffered and died.
This quote shows that Thomas is a very modest and compassionate writer. I think that Thomas has been successful in telling the story of the Danish resistance because he does not claim to know absolutely everything about the subject. Yet he still attempts to provide the full picture. For instance in each chapter he talks about each resistance group of the movement in a lot of detail even listing the names of the majority of those people that were involved in the organisations. Thomas even talks about how some groups were in their missions.
As stated this book is written as a tribute to the Danes that suffered during the Resistance. In anecdotal fashion the author recounts the some of the events which took place during the Resistance in the first person. An illustration of this is in chapter 16 aptly titled the hidden eye as he describes a Danish photographer's, namely Hans Gjerlov's fight against German censorship, Through Gjerlov's account the reader can empathise with his experience because the German invasion was one of betrayal considering the fact that the Danes had signed an agreement with them that they would not be invaded. Despite the author's acknowledgment of the fact that the book is written as a tribute to those who went through this ordeal, it is still possible to accuse his portrayal of events as being biased. As his material is presented from the most favourable point of view of the Danes and their role in the Resistance.
The author has used a lot of primary sources for his information about the movement. This is evident from his use of photographs. Most of the people that were involved in the movement allowed him to use photographs from their private collections. Another example that shows that the author has used a lot of primary sources in this book is when The Princes were trying to smuggle "the world famous physicist" Niels Bohr into Britain. Thomas makes the reader relate to these figures on a more personal level. He does this by using first hand accounts from members of The Princes to recount the event. The reader then gets a first hand view of what happened. This also means that the reader is more inclined to believe and share Thomas's view on the Danish Resistance. The reader can identify with the subject, hence learn more about the movement than what they would if it was told in the third person. A good illustration of this is when Bohr had to travel to Britain.
According to Torp-Pedersen, he (Bohr) was too busy talking to listen to the instructions of the pilot. He certainly does not seem to have appreciated that as he was to travel in the bomb bay of the aircraft, he would be able to communicate with the pilot only through headphones. (Pg. 3 7)
The pilot made the first attempt to talk to Bohr but there was no response. This meant that Bohr had forgotten to plug in his headphones. To ensure that his passenger did not suffocate, the pilot had to fly the aircraft at a low level over the North Sea, so Bohr could receive oxygen. This action meant that there was a very high chance that they could get shot down by the Germans. After the flight was over, the pilot asked Bohr how the journey was, Bohr replied " 'Excellent' I slept beautiful most of the way." I found this to be quite amusing. Thus Thomas should be commended for his ability to make the people in the Danish resistance come to life.
The title 'The Giant Killers' is an appropriate name for the book as it implies that the Germans were big monsters that seemed invincible. However thanks to some Danes remaining in contact with one of the alliances (ie. Britain) they were able to see that the Germans were not invincible. This gave the Danes hope that they could defeat the Germans, and they eventually did. Thus the point can be made that this book can be used to maintain Danish nationalism. This Resistance also separates the Danes from the other Scandinavian countries, because they managed to defeat Germany by maintaining their country's nationalism.
My opinion of this book is that it is a brilliant text for Danish nationalism. The author places convincing arguments to support his case against the Germans. I found this book to be informative and humorous. I think Thomas should be commended for making the Danish resistance movement come to life.