Explore the history of the Frøslev Camp
A unique experience awaits you in the Frøslev Camp: The camp tells an extraordinary story from the German occupation during World War II and until today. You become part of the story when you visit the camp and all the museums and exhibitions which the barracks house today. Before your visit, please find more information on the background of the camp here.
The Frøslev Camp during World War II
The story of the Frøslev Camp starts in 1944, when the camp was established with the purpose of housing prisoners of the German Security Policy in the occupied Denmark. The camp was founded on a Danish initiative – to avoid that Danish citizens were deported to the gruesome German concentration camps. It was also a hope that prisoners who had already been deported, could return to the Danish Frøslev Camp. A total of about 12,000 Danes were held prisoners in the Frøslev Camp from August 1944 until May 1945.
Even if Denmark was occupied by German soldiers, Denmark and Germany were not formally at war.
Denmark was considered to be an independent, self-standing country. And therefore, it was possible for the Danish authorities to establish the Frøslev Camp. The Danish state was paying for its construction and operation while the head of the German Security Police in Denmark was managing the camp.
The story of the Frøslev Camp began on 13 August 1944, when the first 750 prisoners arrived to Frøslev from the Horserød camp on Zealand. German commandants, consisting of persons from the SS and the German police, arrived together with the prisoners.
An extraordinary arrangement
The German commandants were not the only ones to arrive to the camp. The Danish authorities had succeeded in talking the Germans into letting the Danish Prison Administration handle the food for the Danish prisoners.
Therefore, the Danish Prison Administration, also known as the Danish Management of the Frøslev Camp, arrived at the camp soon after the prisoners. This agreement expressed Denmark’s privilege when occupied by Germany.
The prison administration had no authorities inside the camp, but were located just outside the camp.
Daily life in the Frøslev Camp
As in German camps, also the prisoners in the Frøslev Camp had a certain amount of self-rule. The German camp commandant appointed a camp leader among the prisoners, a so-called “Lagerälteste”. Also, each prisoner barrack had a barrack foreman appointed, and work foremen were appointed as well. These foremen were to watch their fellow prisoners and make sure that all rules and regulations were observed.
The Frøslev Camp was different from the German concentration camps. In the German camps, the prisoner self-rule often resulted in a tough hierarchy, whereas in the Frøslev Camp it became a shield between the prisoners and the German camp management. One reason was that the Frøslev Camp did not experience the scarcity of food as they did in other camps, and therefore the prisoners in the Frøslev Camp did not have to fight their fellow prisoners to survive.
Previous prisoners of the Frøslev Camp has called it “the strangest concentration camp in the world.” This might refer to the fact that the German camp management was generally quite restrained towards the prisoners. And epidemic illnesses, starvation and humiliations were hardly an issue.
The Frøslev Camp did not quite fulfil its purpose, however. Despite the agreements with the Germans, about 1,600 prisoners from the Frøslev Camp were deported to German concentrations camps, where approximately 230 of them died.
After the Liberation of Denmark in May 1945
Just after Germany had surrendered on 5 May 1945, the Frøslev Camp changed. All prisoners left the camp and it changed its name to the Fårhus camp.
The change of name was a part of the court cases following the occupation of Denmark. The camp was at first used for internment and later as a prison camp for traitors, persons who had been collaborating with the German occupying force. The Fårhus Camp was the largest Danish prison camp for traitors.
The Danish Defence took over the camp in November 1949, and it was now named the Padborg Camp. In the years 1968-1975 it was used as barracks for the Civil Defence.
In 1969 the Frøslev Camp Museum was founded on initiative by previous camp prisoners. The state took on the operation of the museum which became part of the National Museum of Denmark.
Den Selvejende Institution Frøslevlejren – The Self-governing Institution Frøslev Camp
In 1983, the County of Southern Jutland and Bov Municipality established Den Selvejende Institution Frøslevlejren (D.s.i. Frøslevlejren). It was founded on 1 January 1984 and it is thanks to them that you can today visit one of the best-preserved camps from World War II.