The code is apple crates

The escape helpers must be careful, so they use false names and code words.

By Nete Balslev Wingender, Copenhagen City Archives

In late October 1943, shipowner Knud Lauritzen receives a letter stating:

Dear Klausen,

Seeing that you have always been so willing to help me, I have done my best to get you some more apples, and after much difficulty I finally have them. Since you have such a large family, you can probably use all eight crates, which contain the same variety, and another very small crate, which I hope you will handle with care, as the apples in the small crate are easily bruised.

The letter is signed E. Selde.

Breaking the code

The letter is not what it purports to be.

To conceal the actual meaning should the letter should fall into the wrong hands, codes were used. What Knud Lauritzen (codenamed Klaus B. Klausen) can decode is that his contact in Jutland (codenamed E. Selde) has eight adult Jews and a small child who will be transported to Copenhagen en route to Sweden.

In October 1943 Knud Lauritzen receives more letters from his contacts in Jutland about shipments of apple crates. The shipowner and his wife Kirsten also house Jewish refugees in their home in Granhøjen 16, Gentofte. At the same time, Lauritzen’s ships are already sailing refugees across the Sound in early October. Lauritzen contributes large amounts to finance the escape.


Knud Lauritzen and his contacts are not the only people who for safety reasons use codes when they mention Jewish refugees on the telephone or in letters. Books, beer, cinema tickets and, as in the above letter, apples, are common codes for Jews among the escape helpers.

Knud Lauritzen also guards himself against forged letters by making sure that he and his contacts all have signed samples of their codenames.

Photo: Birthe is the codename of one of Knud Lauritzen’s contacts in Jutland. Photo: private collection.

aeble brev

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