No Danes are known to have participated in the war on either side. 

One of the few Danes who were actually there was Jørgen Skakke. As a journalist he was a  reporter for the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten and sometimes for Financial Times as well. He covered the war on the American side and in the beginning he tended to be quite critical towards the anti imperialistic ideas that were on the rise in Denmark. Later on he wrote the book “Vietnamkrigen Med Egne Øjne” (The Vietnam War In My Own Eyes). Here he seems to mostly share The Danes point of view from the diary, which is to say that war in itself is so atrocious that we should never walk down that path.

From the start of the war the Danish public was critical towards it. THis was pretty much the same in all of Scandinavia. There were multiple demonstrations – especially from the young people on the political left. Some of the demonstrations turned violent with fighting between demonstrators and the police. The author of the diary writes about people sitting in circles talking in the collectives. This is not all that was happening. 

The Danes perception of events depends on when he left the country. The demonstrations got more and more violent until they peaked around 1969, at the same time as the student uprisings in the United States culminated.

Deo against the war in Vietnam, april 27, 1968. Image from: https://leksikon.org/art.php?n=528

Unfortunately there are no dates or other descriptions that point at any specific timeframe for when it all happened. The only place mentioned is Da Nang which he writes is nearby or at the same geographical height as. He also mentions his friend Thomas (Diary 5) but even though it wasn’t the most ordinary name in Denmark in the 60’ies it doesn’t really lead to anywhere certain. 

I didn’t have a lot of clues when I was trying to figure out who The Dane used to be. The next place I tried was the police. The diary doesn’t say anything about how he left Denmark which left me with a small hope that I would be able to find him in the records of missing persons. Just like murder cases they don’t expire in the judicial systems which means that you can find all the old cases archived, if the person hasn’t been found.

The place to look for this kind of information in Denmark is in a special department of the national archives (Rigsarkivet”. Most of this is not open to the public and getting access wasn’t easy. I had to write a formal request to just get access to a small amount of documents in this part of the archive. Most of it remains labelled secret or as a security risk. 

In the end I was granted access and with the help of an archivist I was able to find 21 names of possible candidates. There were especially many cases of young people going missing in the late 60’ies. Most of them had been found again and had just been on a trip with their friends or had moved into a collective without telling their parents. 

The generation gap is very clear in this period and it is obvious that a lot of youngsters were rebelling but didn’t have the heart or guts to tell their parents. Their rebellion seems to be directed at the world and the system rather than against their parents.

When the initial results of the search had been sorted, there weren’t that many left. First of all it had to be a man. Secondly he had to remain unfound. He also had to be fairly young. In the diary he writes about attending university so I narrowed it down to someone between 18 and 30 years old.

Deciding what years to search in was harder. I ended up going with a timeframe between 1965 and 1972. This covered most of the time where the protests against the Vietnam war were at their highest and there still was a war to travel to. Any earlier than this and he wouldn’t write about the people back home sitting in circles in collective. Any later would make the journey obsolete because the war was ending. 

The war officially went on in the years 1955 – 1975 but the early and later years couldn’t be relevant. The diary doesn’t suggest anything like that. 

Out of the initial 21 I could remove 5 of them right away. they had been found within a year from their disappearance. The way the archives are put together I had to have the archiver help me cross reference the names to find out who had been found again in other years than the one that they had gone missing. By doing this, I could strike another 8 from the list of possible suspects. One guy hadn’t been found until 1998 which made me want to look him up, just to ask him where he had been and what he had been doing. It might turn out to be an exciting story or it could even be The Dane returning anonymously to Denmark. however it seemed too unlikely and I let it go. 

This left 8 people on my list. In the years since my visit to the national archives I have been able to strike another 5 names. 2 of them have been found dead. The other 3 have been on TV in one of those shows where you can get help finding a lost parent because they apparently got a girl pregnant and ran off all those years ago.

That means that my list of people who could be The Dane has been reduced to just 3 men. To protect the names of their families and because I don’t know for sure which one it is – if any of those three, I will not be naming them here, even if that means that I might miss a good chance of getting help from the public.

en_GBEnglish (UK)