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 carrer in the twenties, engaging in nationalist movements, a commitment that even rendered in two prison sentences. He was a lawyer and graduated as a doctoral student in law in 1927. He was attracted to the Nazi idea 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. He also served as legal advisor to Gestapo and contributed his knowledge to create a legitimation of Nazi crimes. When Himmler’s deputy, Reinhardt Heydrich, created the Reichs 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, and was involved in 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 Reichsbevollmächtiger in Denmark with overall responsibility for civil matters, an office that included cooperation with the Danish government. When Denmark was occupied in April 1940 it surrender without a fight. In return they were given some form of independence in domestic affairs. For instance, Danish Jews was subordinated to danish laws and not german laws and thus escaped deportations to eastern Europe. But in late August 1943, the germans declared a state of emergency, the danish government was dismissed 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 turn had come to the Danish jews, but Best who probably understood that Germany eventually would lose the war leaked information about the impending round-ups. This gave both time and opportunities for the Jews to escape before the round-ups began. Most fled across the strait to Sweden and only about 500 out of about 7,000 Jews were rounded-up. In total, Jews and none-Jews, about 6,000 Danes were deported from Denmark to countries under germnan occupation. Best motive for leaking information was not based on an idealism but more out of self-preservation to save himself then anything else. 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 might 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).