My Week in the Rigsarkivet in Copenhagen

The next stop on my tour through archives in Europe was the Rigsarkivet in Copenhagen. Here, the archives are unlike in other cities right in the heart of the city – next to the Christiansborg. That way, it feels like History is part of the present rather than something separate. I went to the Danish archives on the one hand because I am able to understand Danish (even though  about 50% of the documents are in German). On the other hand, it seems quite interesting to retrace how the PTT administration of an occupied country reacted to the creation of the union in which it is formally independent and what kind of strategy it used.

It has been quite a successful week. The documents I found in the archive will be able to fill some of the gaps that existed due to the destruction of German material and add a new layer of information. For example, I could find previous contracts between Germany and Denmark for the area of telecommunications, something that up until now had only been found for postal services.

What is however interesting is the fact that also in the Danish archives one can find a significant rupture in the documentation during the years of the Second World War. Since this project also talks about whether the Second World War was as much of a break in international cooperation as it has often been described so far, this seems to be an important piece in the puzzle. From the point of the existing documents, it appears as if there really is a caesura. On the other hand, in many cases, the cooperation seems to have stopped before the World War had even started – namely in the years 1935-1938. Thus, the questions arise: Which time frames do we mean when we compare cooperation before and after the war? Did the relations really stop or is it simply the documents that are missing?

 


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