Introduction from the Book: ”That a whole town could be criminals”
From December to July 2002, a Serbian family of seven lived
hidden in Lemvig.
The family was one out of a larger group of Serbian refugees who were
denied asylum in Denmark.
Many people in and around Lemvig participated actively in hiding the
family and helping them in their everyday life, collecting money,
making research on conditions in their homeland, talking to politicians
to urge them to take up the case once more, involving the media and
so on. The final initiative to obtain permission for all the Serbian
families in Denmark to live and work in the Faeroe Islands also came
Like rings in the water, the discussion spread throughout the Danish
society. Strong criticism of the Refugee Council's and the courts'
superficial way of handling refugee cases started a debate in the
media about the laws and the responsibility of the politicians. By
taking responsibility on themselves and performing civil disobedience
with subsequent court cases, penalties, and the risk of losing their
jobs and positions, the involved Danes finally succeeded, thanks to
stubborn perseverance and a will to solve the problems and find a
compromise with all the involved authorities, from the Prime Minister
This event is the background for our sculptural installation at Hygum
Art Museum, “Through faith, we will overcome”. We have
visited many af those involved, and our concept was to ask every single
person to donate an object, a document or whatever was important to
them and signifies this event.
It is these objects that are installed in the cabinet in the museum
as an archive or monument over a period in the history of Lemvig.
Each object has a label with the name of the donor and a brief, written
During our visits, we made a video of them telling their stories.
These stories have been transcribed directly from the videotape, just
the way they were told, with only a minimum of editing and in the
same order as we filmed them. This is contemporary history at the
“ground level”, told by those who created it – their
thoughts, considerations, fears, and joys. There are repetitions and
contradictions. But this was the way each person experienced it and
acted. We could have continued, since many in and around Lemvig were
involved – so where to stop? – from the grocer to the
mayor, from the school to the congregation at the Apostolic church.
We are still open to new donations for the cabinet at Hygum Art Museum,
and to new stories.
The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben maintained that capitalism
destroys meaning, but art creates meaning. In each their own way,
the stories in this book create meaning, in words and actions. Together,
they orchestrate a new work of art through the human voice. With the
sculptural installation at HM and this book, we want to create a monument
over a spontaneous local initiative of a kind that can change the
world. An example of civil disobedience, which is necessary to counteract
the global forces that are trying to turn large groups of people into
outlaws and are creating the immigrant problems we see in the world
A big vote of thanks to everyone for your support and help with donations
to the sculpture at Hygum Art Museum and the setting in scene for
Also thanks to Katja Løgstrup-Hansen, Marianne Søgård
Sørensen and Nanna Dissing for proof reading, criticism and
advice, and to Lisbeth Hermansen for help in realizing the book and
Finn Thybo Andersen and Kirsten Dufour
1Giorgio Agamben: Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and bare life, State
2Zygmunt Bauman: Globaliseringen og dens menneskelige følger.
Review in the Nationale radio (DR program 1)
A Strange Sculptural Installation.
On November 12,1998, a number of Serbian refugees were refused permission
to stay in Denmark. They were to leave the country before November
26. At Hygum Art Museum, there is a strange sculpture installation
called Through Faith we shall overcome. It is a tall glass cabinet
with a bottom and 3 shelves.
On the bottom and the 3 shelves, some objects have been placed which
are reminders about some people's struggle to save some human beings
and make it possible for them to become Danish citizens. And when
they don´t succeed the first time, then to help them come to
the Faeroe Islands, where we can hope to help them return to Denmark
One of the exhibited objects is a pair of ram's horns like those you
can see on the magnificent animals in the Faeroe landscape. They were
given by Jens Pauli Olsen, who writes: "These magnificent spiral-shaped
horns come from animals living on the steep cliffs of the Faeroe Islands,
where the climate is tough and cold, and the flora is sparse."
This is the story about 21 Serbians from a group of 300, who came
to Denmark, and now in the Faeroe Islands have found a new life, where
they industrious and clever, participate in supporting the society
And it is the story about Lemvig, where two-thirds of the citizens
became criminals so that nothing evil could befall the Serbians when
all the city's leaders helped them - the school director who made
sure their children could go to school, the hospital staff that received
them as patients before the their workday began, the dentist and the
ear doctor, yes, even the police: In the cabinet, you can read a thank-you
letter from Anna Laigaard to an unknown policeman. She wrote: This
story is about a trip Tanja and I took (Tanja is the mother in this
Serbian refugee family).
Anna Leigaard tells how they were stopped by a policeman who asked
to see Tanja´s driving license. Since she didn´t have
one, she became disstressed and gave a false name. The police wanted
to verify her identity on his cell phone, and Tanja began to cry and
Anne Laigaard then told him the truth. He answered Tanja by saying:
"Who are you, to lie to the authority?” After which he
said: ”Drive, and remember your safety belt!”
In the cabinet there is also a clipping from Lemvig's local newspaper,
which tells that the police will not react to anonymous calls in the
refugee case. The chief of Hobro criminal police says that they are
The best-known people in this refugee case were “the idiot and
the theologian”. Kim Larsen, who was a long distance driver
and had been a candidate for the socialist party was "the idiot".
By being out in the world, he had learned about reality. He became
one of the most experienced and sharpest opponents of the system,
which during this period was represented by Minister Thorkild Simonsen,
who apparently did not know anything about what was going on in areas
where life was difficult.
The theologian was Leif Bork Hansen, who had shown civil courage many
times by protecting his fellow human beings, because he believes it
is his duty to care for them. Kim Andersen, laughing, tells that since
I´m not a theologian I must be the idiot".
It is also the story about a family hidden in the attic in the house
of Ribe's reverend, Jørgen Bork Hansen, just opposite Tårnborg.
They were hidden there for 13 months, in peacetime!!
All this and much more is related in a wonderful book published by
Hygum Art Museum( and SAAS), with the title "That a whole town
could be criminals!”. It is dedicated in memoriam to Villy Pedersen,
who participated in the local resistance movement in his youth and
who was the one who took the initiative to hide the refugees in Lemvig.
The texts have been transcribed from videotape interviews with the
persons responsible for the refugees. They are only slightly edited
by Kirsten Dufour and Finn Thybo Andersen.
This is documentation about another Denmark than the Denmark of the
people in power; a Denmark with courageous people who defend true