King Christian X of Denmark and the Jewish Star. I have a friend here in Berkeley who was born in Denmark. I have known her for over 40 years. She is a retired U.C. Berkeley professor who grew up in Copenhagen during World War 2 when Denmark was under German occupation. She has told me several times that one of her most vivid wartime memories was seeing King Christian X riding through the streets of Copenhagen on his horse in a military uniform and wearing a yellow Jewish star on his tunic. I don’t argue with her about this, but that never happened. My friend is not the only Dane who remembers seeing this. Lots of people in Denmark remembered seeing King Christian wearing a Jewish star to protest the persecution of the Jews. A lot of Americans also remembered seeing photographs of King Christian wearing a Jewish star. I think the first time I heard this story was when I saw the movie ‘Exodus’ with Paul Newman when I was a teenager. The King Christian Jewish star story is in that movie – and in other movies as well. Now the story is partially true. King Christian X did ride through the streets of Copenhagen on his horse every day during the war and in a military uniform, but he never wore a Jewish star. This story illustrates a strange thing, collective false memory. It’s not unusual for an individual to remember something that never happened, but sometimes, hundreds or even millions of people distinctly remember something that never happened, and they all remember the same thing. Collective false memory has always fascinated me.
Casablanca. I know people who have seen the movie ‘Casablanca’ many times and who very clearly remember Humphrey Bogart saying: “Play it again Sam”, but that line is not in the movie. When people who have seen ‘Casablanca’ multiple times are asked what was the most memorable line in the movie, the Number 1 answer is always: “Play it again Sam”. The Number 2 answer is: “Drop the gun, Louie.” That line is also not in the movie.
Shazaam. This is even stranger than people’s memories of ‘Casablanca.’ Do you remember the movie ‘Shazaam’, made in the 1990s and starring the comedian Sinbad, who played a genie? A lot of people remember seeing this movie very well. Thousands of people have commented about ‘Shazaam’ and written reviews of it online. You can sometimes find DVD copies of this movie being offered for sale on Ebay. The only problem is that no such movie was ever made! So how come so many people remember seeing ‘Shazaam’? And what do you suppose people get, if anything, when they buy a DVD copy of this movie on Ebay?
The Mandela Effect. The Mandela Effect refers to people who remember of the death of Nelson Mandela in prison in the 1980s. This started in 2010 when a woman shared her memories online of the day that Nelson Mandela died in prison in 1985. Very quickly, lots of other people who also remembered the death of Nelson Mandela in prison began sharing their memories of that day. Thousands of people have now posted online their memories about Mandela’s death in prison on blogs and in chat rooms. I have read some of these memories. Many people distinctly remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the shocking news that Nelson Mandela had died in prison. However, Nelson Mandela did not die in prison. He was released from prison in 1990 and was elected president of South Africa. He died at his home at age 95. Although Nelson Mandela’s death in 2013 was front page news all over the world, people are still posting their online memories of the day Nelson Mandela died in prison.
The Lindbergh Confessions. In 1932, the 1 year old son of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped. A large ransom was paid to the kidnappers, but the child was never returned. The murdered body of the infant was eventually found in a wooded area near the Lindbergh home. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby was front page news all over the world. Within days of the kidnapping, people started walking into police stations across the United States to confess to the crime. Police were astonished at the number of confessions they got and the sincerity and detail with which some of these people told their stories. Ultimately, over 200 people confessed to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. Some of these people were just publicity seekers, but most of them were ordinary people with no prior history of doing anything like this. Keep in mind that it was common knowledge that kidnapping and murder were capital crimes in New Jersey, where the Lindberghs lived. In other words, these people knew that they were confessing to a crime that was punishable by death. Most of these 200 people had never been to New Jersey, and some of them lived in foreign countries. There were people in England, Scotland, and Germany who confessed to killing the Lindbergh baby even though they had never been to the United States or ever traveled outside their home country.Editor’s Note: In case you were wondering, Yes, a great many articles have been published in psychiatric journals about both the Mandela Effect and the Lindbergh Confessions. And Yes, I realize that this is another one of my stories that sounds so improbable that people are going to check it out to see if I made it up. – Mark.
About King Christian X of Denmark. Although he did not wear a Jewish star, King Christian X was sympathetic to the plight of the Jews. How do we know that? In 1943, King Christian was tipped off that the Nazis were about to round up all the Jews in Denmark and ship them to death camps in Germany. The king asked members of the Danish resistance to meet with him at the palace to discuss this matter. The king told the resistance that they had a moral obligation to smuggle the Jews out of the country before the Nazis nabbed them. The king promised to help them with information and cash. True to his word, the king did supply them with much of the money they needed to finance the operation, and it was an expensive operation. A lot of people had to be bribed and paid off. (Everyone in Denmark knows the story of how the Danish resistance smuggled the Jews out of the county, but strangely, I’ve never met a Dane yet who knew that King Christian personally financed the operation.) At considerable personal risk, the Danish resistance along with many private citizens transported nearly all of the Jews in Denmark to Sweden in small boats. Sweden was neutral throughout the war. Below is a photo of a Danish fishing boat taking Jews back to Denmark in 1945 after Germany surrendered. Also below is a photo of King Christian X riding through the streets of Copenhagen on his horse during the German occupation. Notice that the king is not accompanied by bodyguards or policemen. What European king would do that today?