Goldberger, Leo

Goldberger, Leo

Vukovar (Yugoslavia), Opava, Copenhagen

Goldberger was born in 1930 in Vukovar, Yugoslavia. His father, an Orthodox Jewish cantor, received his training in Vienna and moved to Vukova for his first position. From there the family moved to Opava, formerly called Troppaw, in Czechoslovakia for a better position. When his father was spit on by a Nazi in Opava, the family moved again, in 1934, to Copenhagen, Denmark, where his father became one of the two chief cantors. Goldberger has three brothers.

Goldberger explains the history of the Jews in Denmark and of the culture of the “Viking Jews.” He states that Denmark has no history of major anti-Semitism, only of what he calls “petty anti-Semitism.” He believes Jews integrated with the Danes, but did not assimilate to the point of losing their own culture.

He details why the Jews were not acted against when Germany invaded Denmark and gives the reasons why the Danish government resigned on August 28, 1943. After the Germans started to rule Denmark by martial law, measures against Jews were immediately enacted. Goldberger’s father narrowly avoided being arrested during a round-up of Jewish VIPs by hiding in the cellar of their building and then fleeing to their summer home near Helsingor, north of Copenhagen. On a return trip to Copenhagen to conduct services during Rosh Hashanah on September 29, 1943, his father established contact with the Danish underground movement through the help of a non-Jewish woman he had met by chance.

The Danish underground facilitated the Goldberger family’s escape to Sweden by arranging and paying the cost of smuggling them on a fishing boat from Dragor, near Copenhagen, to Malmo, Sweden. Goldberger explains the details of the entire hiding and escape episode during the interview, as well as their life in Sweden.

Upon their return to Copenhagen after the end of World War II, the Goldbergers, as well as the other members of the Danish Jewish community, found all their living places and assets in full order. The Danes had not confiscated or disturbed anything. After Goldberger’s father, however, found out that all of his eight brothers and their families perished during the Holocaust, he became disenchanted with Europe and moved his family to Canada. Goldberger went on to study psychology and specializes in stress and how people adapt to it and cope with it.

Goldberger also explains why he was knighted by the Danish queen and why he thinks Sweden opened its borders to the Danish Jews.