From 1940-1943, the Danish government pursued a course of cautious cooperation with the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. However, in 1943, with increased turbulence and sabotage by the underground resistance movement, the Germans imposed a state of emergency and disbanded the government. Many arrests and executions followed. By 1945 Denmark was besieged by shortages of goods, generalized fear and unrest. At the end of the war, Danes seethed with anger against Germans.

During its occupation of Denmark, Nazi Germany planted hundreds of thousands of land mines on the west coast beaches of Denmark. Although it violated the Geneva Convention prohibition against making prisoners of war do dangerous work, at war’s end >2000 German prisoners were forced to deactivate them. Many of them died.

 

The joint Danish-German film Land of Mine (Danish title: Under Sandet), directed by Martin Zandvliet, depicts the ethical tension between justice and vengeance in a taut, powerful drama about a team of teenage German POWs under the strict supervision of a bitter, Danish Non-Commissioned officer, filled with rage at his country’s former conquerors.

The film is shocking, moving, violent, tender, heart-breaking and powerful.