The Story of Helge Welling

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Helge Welling was born in 1929 on a farm in Denmark. His stories show how dramatically rural life changed when Nazi Germany invaded Denmark in 1940.

Teaser: 

Five-year-old Helge has disappeared. Will anyone find him?

Baby Carriage

I was born in 1929 on my parents' farm "Haksengaard", Vejen, Denmark. I don't recall any part of my birth, so all of that is hearsay as far as I am concerned. Much later, I recall lying in a baby carriage, looking up at the ceiling and hearing the clatter of the table being set for a meal. I have no idea how old I was.

The Meadow
I remember being with my parents down at the meadow on our farm and wandering off. I am told my parents didn't know where I was. I did––I was sitting in the grass, enjoying the sunshine. I was hidden because the grass was taller than me. I was completely fascinated by the many interesting insects crawling and flying about.

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The story of Helge Welling

Harvest Celebration
Our annual harvest celebration was at the Skodborghus Inn, always nicely decorated with sheaves of grain and fresh dahlias and hollyhocks. First there was a potluck supper. Then the tables were cleared away for the dancing.  

I recall my mother asking me to dance. The musicians played Den toppede høn––a three-person dance. Mom said "Come on, it's easy. We'll help you." Yes, it was easy but the music kept going and going. I was out of breath when it ended.

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The story of Helge Welling

When World War II broke out in 1939, I was ten years old. Early one morning in April 1940, the drone of low-flying German airplanes woke us up. They dropped leaflets saying Germany would save Denmark from British occupation.  

We listened to the radio until it was time to go to school. Danish songs and serious music were interrupted by news that the German invasion had begun. Both German and Danish soldiers had been killed at the border.

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The story of Helge Welling

Food Shortages
By 1943, the situation in Europe was bleak. We were relatively well off in Denmark but conditions were worsening. For quite a while our meals consisted of eggs (from our own chickens) and white bread with watery jam. Our grease and margarine were all used up. There were potatoes but little else.

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The story of Helge Welling

In 1943 a German deserter named Walter Pruess came by my brother Søren's place and asked for shelter. This was serious. The punishment for sheltering deserters was death. We let him live in Søren's attic and work in the orchard, which was sheltered from view. He only went outdoors at night.  

Escape
When we heard that German troops would be billeted on neighbouring farms, we knew Walter had to escape from Denmark. My brother Jens would take him to Sweden. It was a risky proposition, with German guards and checkpoints everywhere.

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The story of Helge Welling

Target Practice
In the spring of 1943, German soldiers came to tell us of a scheduled target practice south of our farm, using live ammunition. We asked how far the bullets would travel and they told us we'd be safe in the fields north of the farmhouse. "Just stay away from the south fields", they said. 

I took a team of horses to harrow one of the north fields. It was a sunny day and it felt good to be out. Soon I heard shots but didn't worry. The north fields were safe.

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The story of Helge Welling

When the war ended I was no longer a child. I had seen enough trucks, airplanes and rifles to last a lifetime. I wanted to be around natural––and peaceful––things.  

I had made my living as a farm worker since 1943. I fondly remember working at the State Experimental farm at Askov. We were always treated fairly and generously. I also worked on farms on the island of Fyn and in Sweden.

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PLAN YOUR VISIT

Museum Hours: Open May 8th until September 7th. Thursday through Monday: 10:00am - 5:30pm. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

 

Year round on Fridays: 10.00 - 4.00 pm

How To Get Here: Take Hwy 54 West of Innisfail, AB - Turn South (left) on Range Road 31 in Spruce View - Straight through the 4 way stop in Dickson, AB. 0.8km south on the right.

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