The Occupation is the El Dorado of amateur historians, pdf in Danish with photos, About AirmenDK Updated: 24 NOV 2016

Historian NIELS-BIRGER DANIELSEN wrote an article, here translated by Anders Straarup, published in Jyllands-Posten on 16 March 2016, see pdf-link above.

The Occupation is the El Dorado of amateur historians
Caption of the photo: German troops parade for their Commander-in-Chief in Fælledparken on a Sunday in the summer of 1940. Photo: Holger Damgaard/Polfoto

Many very different people contribute to the exploration of the period of occupation with new views and subject matters very often worth reading, historian John T. Lauridsen states. However, he has a couple of reservations about the contributions of amateur historians to history-writing.

In one respect historian John T. Lauridsen accepted new circumstances when in the 1990's he embarked on the period of the occupation as his field of work.
Till then he had particularly worked with the 1600's - the time of King Christian IV and King Frederik III.

"That is an area where professional historians have been fairly predominant, even if it must be remembered that amateur historians to some extent produce
publications of local history and contributions to yearbooks, also about the 1600's", states John T. Lauridsen, Head of Research of The Royal Library of Denmark.

On the contrary professional historians have never been alone about the period of the occupation. Since 1945 doctors, lawyers, reporters, teachers, officers, and
others have had the epoch-making years from 1940 to 1945 as a serious hobby. This has led to comprehensive websites, lots of forums of debate, and a flood of

"The works of amateur historians fill a gap and often they have new views of areas not yet cultivated by historians. I myself buy publications made by professional
as well as amateur historians. Depending on the individual works each of them might prove valuable," John T. Lauridsen thinks.

Among the amateurs there are scientifically educated people of other professions. Chief surgeon Jørgen Røjel and chief surgeon Jørgen Kieler, veterans of the
Holger Danske, have both written prominent books about their own group of resistance.

"In Jørgen Kieler's work we see an endevour to go to the sources, but first of all it's an account of a former member of the resistance. Jørgen Røjel is the activist
who scoffs at all kinds of passive resistance. They are worth reading - and they are important voices," John T. Lauridsen states. In contrast, we find Peter Birkelund
who with his works about Holger Danske is the professional historian with a more systematic approach to the subject matter, and he views it at a distance in order
to draw weighty conclusions about e.g. the recruiting of the organization and the importance of the actions."

A window to the mood
"Niels Gyrsting's starting-point is his work as a collector. He has published a book about propaganda on poster stamps and beyond that he has procured many
accounts from members of the resistance," says Lauridsen. On the whole, memories are a substantial part of literature. "Mostly they are patriotic in their approach
and often worth reading. Their value is that they give the reader the opportunity to relive the commitment. You cannot re-create that," he points out. "I remember a
late colleague who was a former member of the resistance. When I asked him of his opinion on an article I had written about "portraits of freedom fighters", his
comment was, "You write very well - but you are unable to express the mood of that time."

A fly in the ointment in exciting books
In some cases the Head of Research would like a better professional quality. For instance, his scepticism is aiming at a number of policemen who as amateurs
have published a number of historical books about German terror, certain members of the Schalburg Corps, or criminal activity during the occupation.

"The books are exciting. The fly in the ointment is that they may obstruct projects on a more professional level. Who would like to write a scientific book about
K.B. Martinsen, the commander of the Schalburg Corps, when a biography about him written by an amateur is still selling well?" John T. Lauridsen asks.

With museum as backstop
The internet has growing importance. In that field an amateur historian has received acknowledgement of the value of his work.

A couple of years ago Anders Straarup, a retired teacher, contacted The Museum of Danish Resistance to discuss how his website about allied
airmen shot down over Denmark could be preserved for posterity after his death. According to Curator Henrik Lundbak, Head of the Museum of Danish Resistance,
it appeared that no other institutions undertake to preserve websites.

"Out of common sense we agreed to preserve Anders Straarup's website in the future, as it is a pity if this information gets lost. It is on an ad-hoc basis, as we
have neither the system nor the obligation to be in charge of the preservation of websites." Straarup's approach was motivated by the loss of "Lost Bombers" - 
a valuable site about perished crews of bombers that disappeared after the death of the originator.

One of the 5 portraits of amateur historians in the article is this: Puts planes and airmen on the map

Early on, Anders Straarup began to work with computers, when he worked as a teacher and a guidance teacher at Havndal School near Randers. He benefits
greatly from that now that he cultivates his passion for the period of occupation during his retirement. 72-year-old Straarup has built the website
where he has registered accessible information about more than 3,000 allied airmen who were shot down over Denmark or Danish waters. 1,030 of them are buried
in Denmark, and their graves can be found via the website that also has many visits from abroad.

Among the results of Anders Straarup's work is a memorial stone in Grønhøj near Karup to a crew that crashed there. Among the about 250 attendants at the
unveiling in May 2013 there were relatives from England and Scotland who until then did not know for certain the fate of the member of their family.