A Boat That Conjures Up Denmark’s Finest Hour

Good morning. It’s Wednesday. We’ll look at a boat that is the centerpiece of a new exhibition, even though it’s anchored more than 130 miles away. We’ll also look at the new charges that Representative George Santos now faces.

Credit…Museum of Jewish Heritage

One of the most important items in a new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan is not on display there. It is anchored 134 miles away, in Mystic, Conn.

It is the Gerda III, a 40-foot-long cargo boat that carried Danish Jews to safety in Sweden in 1943, before the Nazis could round them up and deport them to concentration camps. The museum could not moor the boat in the Hudson River, which the museum overlooks. The Hudson was “not hospitable” to a wooden vessel long accustomed to saltier water, said Jack Kliger, the president of the museum.

So it commissioned a smaller replica to tell the story, along with interactive displays and hologram-like narrators.

And the history behind the exhibition — “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark,” which opens on Sunday — shows “what whole communities can do” when they act together and make a moral choice not to be bystanders, Kliger said. The Danish fishing fleet served as a pipeline “for efforts from the Danish church, the Danish police, medical students and ordinary citizens,” he said. ”

It was clear by October 1943 that the Germans occupying Denmark intended to deport the country’s Jewish population. The Danish resistance mobilized, assembling a flotilla of everything from kayaks and rowboats to cargo vessels like the Gerda III. The destination was Sweden, which had guaranteed Jews asylum and was just across the strait known as the Øresund — about as far, Kliger said, as Connecticut is from Long Island by boat across Long Island Sound.

Kliger said the effort rescued 95 percent of the Jewish population of Denmark, sending Jews to Sweden in groups of 10 and 15 at a time aboard fishing boats like the Gerda III. By some counts, he said, 50 Danes were involved for every Jewish person who was ferried out — more than 7,000 in all. The Gerda III alone carried 300.

“It was a working boat, part of the Danish Lighthouse and Buoy Service, servicing lighthouses,” he said. The crew “would come out with the cargo, go to the lighthouse between Copenhagen and Sweden, and instead of returning to Copenhagen, continue onward on the dash to Sweden, which was not what they had charted.”

Credit…Dennis Murphy

The Gerda III, with a top speed of eight knots, could make the lighthouse run in a couple of hours. It could manage to go on to Sweden and return before the Germans realized it had been gone a little longer than it should have been gone. The crew worked fast: Kliger said that Jews who had disembarked in Sweden sometimes turned around to thank the crew, “and the boat was already gone, to make it back and not be discovered.”

The Gerda III had been on the water since the 1920s, carrying supplies, mail and lighthouse keepers to an installation at the entrance to the Øresund. It was one of 300 boats used to evacuate Jews to Sweden; Kliger said that only two others are known to still exist. Denmark donated the Gerda III to the museum in 1989, and it was restored in a Danish shipyard before making the trip across the Atlantic.

Kliger said that when he went to Denmark a couple of years ago to retrace the route across the Øresund, he met a man who had been evacuated when he was 9 years old. “He remembered being herded into the hold under nets and tarps and being told to be very quiet,” Kliger said.

“The first half of the trip was in Danish waters that were German-patrolled,” he continued. The crew told the stowaways, “When you hear the boat slow down, when you hear boots on the deck, you have to be absolutely silent.” The sound of the boots receded, and the boat went on.

After a while, Kliger said, “The hold opened up, the flashlight came in, the boots came down the steps. They thought they were done. But they heard a soldier say, in Swedish, ‘Welcome to Sweden.’”


Expect sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s. At night, temperatures will drop to the low 50s.


In effect until Nov. 1 (All Saints Day).

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Credit…David Dee Delgado for The New York Times
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George Santos faces 10 new charges

Representative George Santos was accused of creating a fictional $500,000 loan to his campaign to help him qualify for a Republican committee program.Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Representative George Santos is facing new charges, including an allegation that he stole the credit card information of people who had made campaign contributions when he ran for the House.

The new accusations were made in a 23-count indictment that added 10 new counts to the earlier charges against Santos, a Republican whose district includes parts of Long Island and Queens. The new charges include making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsifying records submitted to the commission; conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States; and wire fraud.

As for the allegations about credit cards, the prosecutors say that Santos used a donor’s card number to charge $15,800 to his campaign in December 2021, exceeding the election-cycle limit for individual contributions to a candidate’s committee. The indictment said the donor “did not know of or authorize charges exceeding such limits.”

The prosecutors said Santos had later charged the same donor $44,800 more without the donor’s knowledge or permission.

More than $11,000 of that money was transferred to Santos’s own bank account in August 2022, the indictment said.

Santos was also accused of swindling $50,000 from two other donors using a fake nonprofit group — and using the money to buy designer merchandise and settle personal debts.

Much of the updated indictment dovetailed with allegations prosecutors had made against Santos’s campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, who last week admitted her role in fraudulently reporting a $500,000 loan from Santos to his campaign, which was fictitious.

My colleagues Michael Gold and Grace Ashford write that the accusations against Santos seem distinctly different from the typical corruption cases that ensnare politicians and involve allegations of quid pro quos. The misdeeds ascribed to Santos appear to have more in common with those of an everyday grifter.

Santos refused to comment on the new charges, telling reporters in Washington on Tuesday that he had not recently checked his phone but had no plans to resign. A lawyer for Santos, Joseph Murray, declined to comment.

The indictment became public at the end of a day on which Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat who held Santos’s seat until January, announced that he planned to run in 2024. Suozzi did not run for re-election last year, instead challenging Gov. Kathy Hochul and losing to her in the Democratic primary.

“The madness in Washington, D.C., and the absurdity of George Santos remaining in the United States Congress is obvious to everyone,” Suozzi wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We need more common sense and compassion and less chaos and senseless fighting.”



Dear Diary:

It was a Sunday afternoon in August. I was walking home and about a block away from my apartment in Sunnyside when a woman approached me.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said with a slight accent. “Do you know how to tie a necktie?”

She was holding two black ties. She explained that she, her husband and her son were going to a funeral. Her husband and son wanted to wear the ties but didn’t know how to tie them.

Could I do this without a mirror, I wondered. It turned out to be one of those things you never forget, like riding a bicycle.

I did one, and then the other, each time leaving a loop large enough to lift over my head.

The woman thanked me, and I said it was one of the most unusual requests I had ever received.

“I was trying to find a cleaner’s,” she said, “but then I saw you.”

— Gary Matson

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Hannah Fidelman and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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