Mr. Herman Boraks was born on September 21, 1904 in Copenhagen Denmark to Pinchas and Sara Boraks. His parents emigrated from Seidlce Poland at the turn of the 20th century. They immigrated to Copenhagen due to the persecution of Jews in Poland at that time. The Russo-Japanese war was going on and Herman’s father was a soldier in the Russian army. Upon his return back to Poland, he met Ms. Sara Milgram and they got married. Herman’s parents decided to move to Denmark in order to have a better life for themselves and their future children. The move to Denmark was very difficult but Herman’s father had close friends there who helped the Boraks come to Denmark. His parents already had a daughter named Basha when they moved to Denmark. Seven out of Pinchas and Sara’s eight children, including Herman, were born in Denmark.
Herman’s father taught at a college in Copenhagen and his childhood was tough but fun. He cannot recall any anti-Semitism in Copenhagen during his upbringing. Jews were treated wonderfully in Denmark and he never knew the religious differences growing up. There was a great relationship between royal family in Denmark and the Jewish community.
Herman’s father passed away in 1921 and in 1923, he and his younger brother moved to the United States to “make something of ourselves”. It was tough being away from his family but he kept in close touch with them and sent money to Denmark on a regular basis.
He heard about the Jewish persecution in Germany and was apprehensive and slightly worried about his family but was confident that this would not take place in Denmark due to the great relationship between the Jewish and Christian community there. When Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, direct contact with his family was cut off. His friend in Detroit knew someone in Sweden who was able to contact Herman’s family. He sent money and letters to his friend in Detroit who then sent it to his contact in Sweden who then sent the money and letters to Herman’s family. He was one of the few people in America who knew exactly what was going on in Denmark due to his contact. His brother and brother-in-law joined the underground army and were involved in the bombings of important Nazi paths and roads.
During occupation of Denmark, his entire family was underground and he felt helpless to make their situation better. Even though, he could send money to them and write to them, he was in constant fear of what could happen and he could not be there to help his own brothers and sisters. This feeling was greatest when martial law was declared in Denmark, under Nazi commander Werner Best, and all he could do for his family was pray for them. Throughout all this, his family never complained but thanked the Lord for the kindness of the Danish people.
The underground movement and the Nazi occupation all came to a conclusion on one fateful night. There was confidential information that Nazis were rounding up all the Jews, given to a Christian a minister in the Danish Government, who was a friend of Rabbi Marcus Melchoir in Copenhagen. They spread around the message “don’t go home” and helped the Jews to escape. Herman’s family had only minutes to get ready and could pack clothes and one extra bag. They had to forcibly cover the mouths of the children so as not to make any noise since there were Nazi spies all over. They were put on boats and taken to Sweden. The Swedish government supported this move and they helped Herman’s family hide once they got to Sweden. A total of approximately 6,000 Jews escaped on this night, September 30, 1943. Herman’s family was separated once they got to Sweden where they lived either underground or with a Christian family.
Luckily, all members of Herman’s family survived this terrible ordeal and Herman places the credit of his family’s survival in the hands of the Danish people. Their kindness and determination to do the right thing in the face of death along with the bravery of the Jewish community is something remarkable and something we all should all wish to emulate.