Danes Just Don’t Like Fighting

Palle Lauring has a two-page discussion in A History of Denmark* in which he analyzes the historical reluctance of Danes to spend material, men or money in the interest of a constant state of military defense.

This missing piece in the essential business of self-preservation is  even more significant in the light of another observation he makes elsewhere in the book:

“Even though the central, basic land of Denmark has been obliged to cede various territories, the nation is nevertheless still there….Denmark has maintained her position throughout her 1,000-year old history.  Her inhabitants represent one of the few peoples in Europe that have never suffered from large-scale invasions or population transfers and so today can really claim for the most part to be the descendants of the ‘Danes’ of the Stone Age.”  Yeah for our side!

He  describes this thrift mentality that resulted in their perpetual lack of military preparedness as a “weapons outlook” that concluded money thus spent was “spent unwisely.”

He says, “One sometimes has the feeling that the Danish outlook has never developed beyond the idea that, in time of war, you take your rusty battle-axe down from the wall–or go and try to find it in the woodshed where it has been serving a useful purpose–and sharpen it on a grind-stone…Preparedness has seldom been a strong point in Danish history.  The Danish people are too tied up with everyday life, are blessed with too great a sense of humour to be eternally en garde.  Their mentality dictates their fate.”

Well, that explains a lot.  Whether it’s a good thing is another matter entirely.


*translated from the Danish by David Hohnen, Host & Son, Copenhagen, 1960

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