Historic Boat that Rescued Danish Jews from Hitler Finds New Home in Pinellas County


The 34-foot, 10-ton wooden vessel known as “Thor” was used to smuggle Danish Jews out of the nation before Hitler and the Nazis could collect them and deport them to death camps. Approximately 90% of Denmark’s Jewish community fled by boat before the round-up occurred because word had leaked that it would shortly take place.

Among the numerous boats utilized in the undercover operation is “Thor.” Not too long after, 7,200 Jews managed to get out of Denmark.

The Jewish parents of Margot Benstock managed to escape Denmark by sea. The parents of Irene Weiss were also Jews. Together, Tampa Bay locals Benstock and Weiss arranged for “Thor” to be bought from a boat broker and relocated from Denmark to Florida.

Weiss stated, “Hopefully, having the boat there will empower people to make the right and good choices.” She gave her reasons for wanting the yacht to be on display. “I hope that visitors to the museum feel empowered and optimistic.”

The yacht is presently being stored at a warehouse in Largo, but it will soon travel to the St. Petersburg museum to be on exhibit.

“I cried when I saw it for the first time. Benstock remarked, “I really cried,” recalling her initial reaction upon seeing “Thor.” Her father took a boat akin to “Thor” and escaped Denmark. “My father, when he went on the boat to Sweden, he’d already lost his whole family. What was going through his mind is beyond me.

To prevent being discovered by the Nazis, a large number of those fleeing Denmark aboard the boats would conceal themselves below deck.

Weiss remembered, “My dad told me they covered him with fish to hide what they were doing.”

Benstock continued, “My mother just mentioned that she was claustrophobic. “The entire time, she was terrified.”

However, she was still alive because of the many Danes and boat captains who assisted with the rescue. With the new display, both women hope to honor that work.

“The Danes were so good, they were so good to the Jews,” Benstock recalled. “I’m not sure if that would still apply now. However, I sincerely hope that upon viewing it, people will be struck by the decency of human nature.

The new exhibit will make its premiere in 2024 at the Florida Holocaust Museum.

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