Book Review: Hitler's Savage Canary: A History of the Danish Resistance in World War II


by David Lampe

London: Frontline Books / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xviii, 238+. Illus., map, index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 9781628723717

The Danish Resistance to German Occupation

After W.W. II American veteran David Lampe (d. 2003) settled in England and worked as a free lance writer. His most important work, this very good account of the largely overlooked Danish resistance, was first published in 1957, reissued in 2010, and is now available again.

When the Germans overran Denmark, both they and the Allies predicted that the Danes would offer little resistance to the occupation, hence the “canary” of the title. In fact, they proved to be quite wrong. While wartime Danish governments formally supported non-resistance, ordinary Danes began resisting from the start.

At first this was in passive ways, through clandestine newspapers, posters, and pamphlets. But more militant opposition gradually emerged, carried out by Danish military personnel and ordinary citizens, who conducted sabotage, espionage, armed resistance, and the rescue of Allied airmen. Lampe mixes looks at the organization and leadership of the resistance with numerous tales of its operations, whether successful or not, a few of which are even rather amusing. Lampe’s account of the evacuation of the country’s Jewish population to Sweden is very good, showing how efficient and sophisticated the resistance had become.

Although perhaps not the “most successful” resistance movement of the war – the Germans, after all, never felt it necessary to inflict on the Danes mass reprisals such as they did at Oradour-sur-Glane or all across Eastern Europe, Hitler’s Savage Canary is a very valuable look at one of the least examined resistance movements of the war, marred, unfortunately, by the lack of notes or an index.



Note: Hitler’s Savage Canary is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close