The illegal press in Denmark opposing German occupation grew to impressive size and influence by the end of World War Two. But its origins were modest, springing up from the small banned Danish Communist Party and informal friendship groups in 1941.
On the basis of case files of the Prosecutor for Special Affairs office, Sparks of Resistance traces the early antecedents of the illegal periodical press, such as dissident leaflets, stickers, chain letters, posters, graffiti, symbols, songs and movie demonstrations that proceded the illegal periodical press. The development of the illegal press, its ability to engage the Danish population and change its political consciousness and official Danish policy is examined both as a practical accomplishment (the physical feat of news gathering, production and distribution) and a political one (What groups produced the early illegal press? How did the illegal press gain persuasive power and organizational efficacy? What issues and themes did it focus on?)
The workplace/familial networks used to circulate the illegal press and collect financial support for itself and the public's suspicion of the-controlled legal press combined with that press' silence about news and issues of great public interest, gave the illegal press an agenda-setting and opinion-forming advantage, despite its illegality and smaller size. The subversion of the official policy of accommodation was in part effected through the illegal press' focus on the fiction of Danish sovereignty, by creating immediate symbols to embody the enemy and by being civil disobedients creating the issue of whether German or Danish authorities retained jurisdiction in these cases.
Nathaniel Hong is an American journalism historian with research interests in the relationship of dissident presses and public policy debate. He has lived in Denmark numerous times and did research for this book during a recent Fulbright fellowship.