Where did he go?

I have practically given up hope of ever finding further evidence to show that the Dane has ever been to Vietnam. I am starting to think that I have to settle for the diary and two photographs. But my search didn’t stop there. 

After having reviewed so much material from the war itself, I started looking elsewhere for proof of his existence. 

The first place I looked was in old newspapers from Denmark. Surely they would write about it, if they ever found a Danish man who returned from the Vietnam War after having fought against the Americans. I don’t know if he would have been prosecuted as a traitor to his country, but I am pretty sure that a story like that would make frontpage.

I have spent countless hours studying newspapers on microfilm from 1976 and a few years forward. But nothing came from it. I have been to Skejby (Near Aarhus in Denmark) many times to read the original newspapers from before 1976 which was the year that they started using microfilm for storage in Denmark. Nowadays it’s a lot easier because so much has been digitized so you can view a lot of it from your own home. Nevertheless I still haven’t found any clues or persons returning to Denmark who could have been The Dane.

Looking at microfilms
viewing microfilms

He might have returned anonymously with a fake story of his whereabouts. After all he wouldn’t be the first person to travel the world and spend years doing so. This was also the time where The Beatles went to India to stay with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A lot of hippies traveled to places like Goa or even Crete, so he could have gotten away with a story like that. 

I just don’t think that is what happened. I don’t think The Dane ever returned to Denmark. I am not even sure if he returned to his old self. I believe that he stayed in the war both physically and mentally.

I moved my focus elsewhere and started looking at other wars.

There weren’t any wars in that region of the world immediately after the end of the Vietnam War. It wasn’t completely peaceful either and there could easily have been smaller skirmishes and local fighting where he could have made a living as a mercenary. 

In 1979 Vietnam invaded Cambodia, which caused China to attack Vietnam. In both cases the Vietnamese won. In Cambodia the Red Khmer were forced to step down as leaders of the country and China withdrew their forces after having lost around 20.000 men in only three weeks. The Chinese lost to smaller militia groups while the main force of the Vietnamese army was occupied in Cambodia. 

There was plenty to do for a Danish mercenary if he had decided to stay. The only question was if he fought alongside the militia or if they somehow let him join the army.

It does seem unlikely that he would be allowed to join the army as a Danish citizen. The best bet is that he was fighting in the militias against the Chinese forces. He could have changed his nationality to Vietnamese, but it is a deadend to look for archives of that since none of these documents have been stored in Vietnam. The chaos after the war does make it hard to follow a trail. 

When the American army left Vietnam, most of the press corps from the western hemisphere went with them. The attention was directed elsewhere and not much was written in Europe or the USA about these acts of war. 

The Chinese propaganda machine has deleted almost everything from this war from Chinese history. After all, their great army lost it all in just 3 weeks to some small militia groups.

It might be possible to find something if one were to look in old newspapers from Cambodia or Vietnam from these years, but I have not had the resources for that, and I wouldn’t really know where to start looking or translating.

At this point in history the cold war wasn’t equally cold everywhere. Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan became smaller battlefields where the great powers fought against each other in a form of proxy war.

It was a kind of cruel testing ground for enginuity, technological progress, their abilities in the field of propaganda, their financial capabilities and a lot of other parameters. But they never met face to face in open war.

Looking at these facts, it was logical for me to move my curiosity to Afghanistan and try to find further clues there. There were still other wars like the Falkland War, but it didn’t fit anywhere in my theories. It was too far away from the Vietnam War both geographically and ideologically. 

There was – and still is – a lot of fighting going on around the world. Some of it is minor skirmishes and some is actual war between two countries. If I were to have any success in my endeavors to find The Dane, I would have to focus on the larger conflicts. The western press isn’t that good at looking beyond our own zones of interest, so it would have to be a war or conflict that affected Europe or the USA, if I should be lucky enough to find anything about a white Scandinavian male fighting there.

Now, in 1979 the Soviet Union decided to openly support the Communist Party that carried out a coup the year before. They did so by marching the Red Army across the border and into Afghanistan. The next step was to get rid of the reigning president and government and substitute them with their own cabinet. 

From 1979 until 1989 they then tried to gain control over the land and the different rebellious groups. The most famous – or infamous – of these groups being the Mujahideen.

map of afghanistan in 1987
Afghanistan in 1987 – The Russians couldn’t win either

This was also a war by proxy and the Americans were present through the CIA. The European countries and NATO supported the rebels in their fight against the communists. Another support came from Saudi Arabia. This was mostly finansial and was motivated by supporting muslims against a regime where religion was forbidden. 

Some of the support for the rebels in Afghanistan was united in MAK (Maktab al-Khadamat), one of the founders of which was Osama Bin Laden. 

MAK was ironically supported by the USA through the CIA. I don’t know if Denmark supported this as well, if they did, it wasn’t official. There is however a rather famous photograph of Lars Løkke Rasmussen in traditional Pakistani clothes posing with an AK47 next to some Mujahideen rebels in 1988. (Lars Løkke Rasmussen went on to become prime minister of Denmark 2009-2011 and 2015-2019)

You can find a copy of the image here on the website of Danish National TV. (Lars is the one with the rifle)

At this time Lars Løkke Rasmussen was head of the youth department of his political party and the fact that he could get this form of VIP treatment by the mujahideen does suggest a connection between Denmark and the rebels. 

There were a lot of different reasons to look at Afghanistan as the next place to pick up the trail of The Dane. Most importantly it was a place and a war where he could combine his communist (or at least socialist) background with his hatred towards America and American soldiers. It could be a new place to seek revenge. It must also be said that because it was a war by proxy there was a lot of money to be made on both sides. 

The search for The Dane moved on to Afghanistan

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