The Langkilde legacy
The Langkilde family like most Danes in New Zealand, contributed greatly to Denmark and New Zealand through The Danish Association during the 2nd World War.
The Association’s aim was the liberation of Denmark from German occupation. The Association collected enough funds to present a fully equipped ambulance to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Christoffer Langkilde was the first secretary of the Association in 1942 and then later became the Vice President and then President. His daughter Poula Langkilde Christie was also an office holder in the Association. Ingeborg Langkilde, Christoffer’s wife set up the Danish Sewing Circle which encouraged Danish and New Zealand women to provide clothes for Denmark. Reportedly tons of clothing was sent to Denmark at the end of the war.
The Danish Association became the Danish Society (Inc) in March 1946, by now Christoffer was ready to retire but Poula continued on the committee .and later her husband served on the committee.
Poula Langkilde Christie wrote a book, Candles and Canvas, about her Danish childhood starting in the Manawatu where the family arrived in 1907. t is Poula’s account of her early life in New Zealand and their local community in which they lived, that provides a lasting legacy.
Her parents had come from good middle class homes, Christoffer from a beautiful farmstead Christianslund, in Bogense on Fyn which had been the seat of the family for generations and her mother from a gracious home in Copenhagen. Christoffer and Ingeborg’s dream was to make their fortune in New Zealand and return to Denmark. Instead the family experiences poor living conditions and poverty in early New Zealand, first in the Manawatu, then the Bay of Plenty and the King Country. It took 40 years for Christoffer to find the success he was looking for and by that time it was to late to return. The children’s upbringing was totally Danish in language, traditions and values which Poula explores that in her book
The radio interviews below were recorded in 1991, when Poula was 84. Her Danish language skills are still present and she relates aspects of her early life
The Danish Sewing Circle in Auckland
On Wednesday the 4th March 1946, the Auckland Star published a short article based on a letter written by Ingeborg Langkilde, the wife of the President of The Danish Association in New Zealand. This Association set up in 1942 was set up to support Danes and work for the freedom of Denmark, during the Second World War.
All Danes in NZ took their support of Denmark very seriously. Ingeborg Langkilde, established the Danish Sewing Circle. Their goal was to provide clothing from New Zealand to Danes who not been able to obtain new clothes during the war. Both Danish and New Zealand women sewed clothes for adults and children in Denmark.
It appears that the clothing arrived after the war.
I thought you would be interested in the article as the information is obtained from a letter written by Ingeborg Langkilde. As you can see from the photograph, the letter is now deteriorating.
I have transcribed the article from the Auckland Star below:
News of the safe arrival in Denmark of cases of clothing sent by the Danish Sewing Circle in Auckland has been accompanied by graphic letters from leaders of distributing organisations, recipients of clothing from Danish “Lottes”. A “Lotte” is a woman, who during the occupation years was officially attached to the Air Defence and secretly attached to the Resistance Movement.
The clothes were distributed throughout Denmark under the direction of Crown Princess Ingrid, who is president of the committee responsible for the distribution of clothing from abroad.
A school teacher on the far-flung island of Bornholm in a letter states that one morning on arriving at school he noticed a strong smell of camphor. The cause was revealed when a small boy proudly walked up to him and in new clothing and holding a card which read, “From the Danish Sewing Circle and their New Zealand friends”.
Three children in that school had been clothed. The teacher immediately converted his usual lesion to a religious one, revealing to the children that practical love still existed in this world of hatred.
One letter from the Town Hall in Aarhus, which is typical of many, described the tears of gratitude with which the people received the garments, the quality of which had not been seen for five years. Even the women who distributed the clothing ran their fingers through the woollies to get the thrill of the luxurious warmth
Boys’ shirts in Denmark have been made out of roller blinds, which in turn were replaced by brown paper. One woman purchased a tent, which was converted into a shirt and a tablecloth. Stockings made out of hemp made the children cry, as they were scratchy and lacked warmth. Many children never had underclothes and some had never worn pyjamas.
The tiny island of Strynø, with only 500 inhabitants, received enough gifts from New Zealand to clothes 29 mothers and children.
In view of the fact that firing is almost unprocurable in Denmark, the garments were doubly appreciated being among the first to reach Denmark and in good time for winter.
This article is part of a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and photographs prepared and maintained by Mrs Hadrup during the war years.
Had she known that we would be looking at it and treasuring it, 78 years later, she might have been a little more careful with her cutting and pasting.
All praise to her for her diligence. She has left us an invaluable collection of information. It is a snapshot of life as experienced by Danes in Auckland during the war years.
You can read more newspaper clippings from the war years that Mrs Hadrup cut out and pasted in her Album scrapbook. Just look up the Danish Society website: www.danishsociety.org.nz
Point to About and then scroll down to History.
Karen Andersen Yates
Recollections of Poula Langkilde Christie early days in New Zealand.
Poula came to New Zealand as a baby in 1907. She became the first secretary of the Danish Association, later Danish Society in Auckland in 1942. Poula’s recollections were recorded by Danish Radio in 1991. Hear her story, in Danish, here…