Rydhave (Villa)


In a finer area in northern Copenhagen called Charlottenlund, the Nazi governor of civil affairs SS-Obergruppenführer Werner Best had his private residence, villa Rydhave. Best had begun his political involvement in the twenties, engaging in nationalist movements, a commitment that even rendered in two prison sentences. He trained as a lawyer and graduated as a doctoral student in law in 1927. He was attracted to the Nazi message of restoring Germany’s greatness and became a member of the Nazi party and SS in 1931. He was ambitious, opportunistic, career-seeking, unscrupulous and advanced rapidly in the ranks and in the Nazi hierarchy. He also served as legal advisor to the Gestapo and contributed his knowledge to create a legitimation of the crimes of which the Nazis were guilty. When Himmler’s deputy Reinhardt Heydrich founded the Kingdom’s central security agency (RSHA) in September 1939, Best became head of department I with responsibility for staff and organization. In June 1940 he was appointed head of civil affairs in France, an office that included the deportation of Jews in France to eastern Europe and the fight against resistance movements in France.

In November 1942, Best was appointed as the Reichsbevollmaeger in Denmark with the overall responsibility for civil matters, an office that included cooperation with the Danish government. When Denmark was occupied in April 1940, Denmark received in exchange for not entering into acts of war against the Germans a certain form of independence in domestic affairs. Danish Jews had escaped the deportations to eastern Europe. But in late August 1943, the germans declared a state of emergency, the danish government was deposed and the military disarmed. In mid-September, nearly 2,000 Danish police officers were arrested and deported to Germany. Politicians, gendarmes, criminals and anti-social were also deported.

In october 1943 the tour came to the Danish jews, but Best who probably understood that the germans were about to lose the war leaked information about the impending raids. This gave both time and opportunities for the Jews to escape before the raids began. Most fled across the strait to Sweden and only just under 500 of about 7,000 Jews were captured. In total, about 6,000 Danes were deported to Germany and occupied states. Best motive for leaking information was not based on an idealism but more on a self-preservation drive to save oneself in the face of the German defeat. After the war, Best was extradited to Denmark and brought to justice and sentenced to death in 1948. The sentence was changed to five years in prison, but he was released in 1951. Best died in West Germany in 1989 at the age of 85.

Current status: Preserved (2015).

Location: 55° 45'25,71 N, 12° 35'40,10 E

Get there: Commuter train to Ordrup station.

My comment:

Since 1946, the villa has been the private residence of the American ambassador. Expect that the security guards may be interested in you if you photograph.

Follow up in books: Höhne, Heinz: The Order of the Death’s Head: The story of Hitler’s SS (1969).