Holger, the Guardian of the West

Regular readers know that I have recently become enamored of Holger Danske.

For latecomers: Holger Danske — a.k.a. Holger the Dane — was a semi-mythical Danish hero. He fought against Charles Martel in the early part of the 8th century, but overlooked his differences with the Franks in order to journey south and fight alongside Charles the Hammer in his successful battle against the Saracens.

The Islamic threat from al-Andalus meant more to Holger than his quarrels with his Frankish neighbors, and so he became a hero of the Western World at Poitiers in 732.

That part of his story is recorded in history, but now we come to the myth. According to legend, Holger retired to the old Kronborg castle and entered a twilight sleep in one of its cellars, to awaken only when he was needed by Denmark. Hans Christian Andersen tells the tale:

Holger DanskeBut the fairest sight of all is the old castle of Kronborg, and under it sits Holger Danske in the deep, dark cellar which no one enters; he is clad in iron and steel and rests his head on his stalwart arm; his long beard hangs down upon the marble table where it has become stuck fast; he sleeps and dreams, but in his dreams he sees everything that comes to pass in Denmark. Every Christmas Eve an angel of God comes to tell him that all he has dreamed is true, and that he may go to back to sleep again, for Denmark is not yet in any danger! but if it should ever come, then old Holger Danske will rouse himself, and the table will break apart as he pulls out his beard! Then he will come forth, and strike a blow that shall be heard throughout all the countries of the world.

As a non-Danish person who only recently learned about Holger’s story, I find him very inspiring, an apt symbol for the dire times ahead.

But not everyone agrees with me. A Danish reader recently sent me an email, part of which is excerpted below:

Dear Baron,

I apologize for not having replied to your latest email. I have some doubts about the use of nationalist imagery such as “Holger Danske,” I believe it causes great damage to the “cause,” which is making counterjihad a mainstream issue. I believe the approach of e.g. Robert Spencer and Lars Hedegaard is far more constructive and likely to gain results.

I wrote him back:

I understand your reservations, and I respect them.

Liberty at Tiananmen SquareThe funny thing is, I don’t find Holger Danske to be a nationalist symbol (though, obviously, the Danes consider him to be one). To me, he is the spirit of the West, a spirit which is awakening in its hour of need, and anyone who cherishes the values of liberty and self-determination can claim Holger as their own.

He’s like the Statue of Liberty. Do you remember the demonstrators in Tinananmen Square in 1989, who built a replica of the Statue of Liberty? They didn’t consider it to be a nationalist symbol of the USA, but used it as an icon representing their struggle for freedom.

And so it is with Holger, who put aside his differences with Charles the Hammer to journey southwards and fight alongside his former enemy against the Saracens in 732.

Holger Danske is a worthy symbol for all of us, and I am happy to have learned about him.

But I don’t blame you for being nervous about him — the recent history of nationalism in Europe has not been pleasant.

One is certainly loath to rouse the ghost of European nationalism. We’ve seen enough of that particular shade to last us several lifetimes.

But why does Holger have to be an exclusively Danish symbol? Why can’t the West claim him as its own, the way the Tiananmen demostrators claimed Lady Liberty?

Liberty in ShanghaiIn researching the images for this post, I wandered into an archive of Tiananmen photos from 1989. It’s been almost eighteen years, but looking at those photographs made it feel like just the other day.

Remember all those inspiring photos on the front pages of the newspapers? The crowds of youthful demonstrators with their signs and their zeal for liberty — it seemed as though China would follow the Soviet Union along the path of reform and glasnost.

But it was not to be. The tanks came in, the movement was crushed, and the Western democracies could only express “grave concern” and then resume business as usual after the appropriate interval of diapproval.
– – – – – – – – – –
Watching Tinananmen Square in 1989 was like seeing the tanks stop before they rolled on to Baghdad in 1991, or being a spectator to those American soldiers who were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993. It was something one had to endure; it was necessary for the sake of Realpolitik; but it wasn’t right.

And remember how all those Tiananmen photos stopped after June 4th, 1989? A couple of long-distance views of tanks rolling into the square among the demonstrators, and then that was it. A little outrage here and there, some negative editorials in the Western media, and then down the memory hole with the whole affair. Commerce and diplomacy resumed shortly afterwards.

There were stories of hundreds or thousands of dead students, and of the survivors who were hauled off to the laogai, never to be seen again. But as far as the authoritative media were concerned, those were scarcely more than rumors. Uncorroborated and undocumented.

Liberty demonstrationBut they weren’t. That’s what I found out when I encountered the Tiananmen archives. Thanks to the miracle of the internet, all that information is available to anyone who wants to look for it.

None of the more disturbing photos are reproduced here, but the horrors of those few days in June of 1989 are well-documented, as is Auschwitz. They carry a similar impact — all those youngsters, filled with a zeal for liberty, and the horrific and bestial things that were done to them!

Follow the link at your own risk.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

LibertyThe demonstrators at Tiananmen Square took up Lady Liberty as their symbol. They didn’t think of her as an American nationalist symbol, an icon of United States imperialism. Why should they? She stood for what they didn’t have — the right to speak freely, to live their lives according to their own consciences, and not according to the whims of the Socialist State. They knew that America represented those rights, however imperfectly realized.

Why can’t Holger take on the same universality? Why should the Danes claim sole proprietary rights to such an inspiring figure?

Lady Liberty symbolized freedom to the doomed youth of Tiananmen.

To us, to the besieged people of Western Civilization, Holger Danske represents resistance, the newly awakened spirit that stirs in us when we are threatened by the Demonic Convergence of socialism, nihilistic postmodernism, and Islamic fascism.

Jan III SobieskiHolger is not just the avatar of the Danes, or even of the Men of the North. He stands for the West. He is the defender of what we hold dear, of what we have all but forgotten how to fight for.

He is the equivalent of Aragorn at the Black Gate of Mordor shouting, “I bid you stand, Men of the West!”

He stands alongside Charles Martel in 732, and Jan III Sobieski, the savior of Europe at Vienna in 1683. Martel does not belong to the French, nor does Sobieski belong to the Poles. They belong to all of us.

And so does Holger Danske. He is Holger, Vestens Vogter: Holger, the Guardian of the West.

The Danes will just have to learn to share.

Thanks to the redoubtable Kepiblanc for Holger’s new title in Dansk.

27 thoughts on “Holger, the Guardian of the West

  1. I’d say that Holger Danske is the last bastion of pre-medieval European pride – and quite possibly that of Western civilization.

    But luckily, there are other great Europeans nowadays, and one of them was Pim Fortuyn.

  2. As I understand it Holger Danske stood shoulder to shoulder with his former enemies the Franks to turn back a much more threatening invasion.

    So how can he be considered a Nationalist Symbol? He is instead a Symbol of Alliance against Oppression.

  3. You were too accomodating with the remarks about “nationalism”. As if Danish nationalism every hurt anyone.
    This is just liberal code: any self-assertion by a Western country is “nationalism”. Without nationalism, no nations. You can be plenty nationalistic…aka PATRIOTIC…without invading your neighbors.

  4. Baron, your reader must of course have been thinking of the German, Italian and Japanese nationalism of WWII. Which is intuitive, yet, on closer inspection, doesn’t serve that case.

    Those three states then weren’t just nationalistic–their nationalism was the basis of their imperialism. The problem is imperialism, then as now. Imperialism can have various bases, bases other than nationalism: Communism was an imperialism based on economic theory and meta-theory, and Islam is an imperialism based on religious belief. In contrast, Zionism is a nationalism with no imperialistic designs (cf. my map-piece here), and the same goes for the nationalisms of Europe today.

    The times are changed. Just as it’s anachronistic to think in terms of “race struggle” and “class warfare” (my pet peeve with the Leftists), it’s necessary to recognize that imperialism today takes the form of Islam most of all, with the help of the Marxist PC fifth column, while nationalism today is one of the best defense against that two-pronged onslaught. That’s how the land lies in 2007. Your reader needs to get up-to-date.

  5. Dear Baron,
    I couldn’t agree with you more, people need symbols to rally around and Holger Danske is an exceptionally good example, and why not now. I myself use the name Holger Danske to post comments on Jihad Watch and other Bloggs. when I became incensed over the flak that Denmark was taking over the cartoons, and decided to add my insignificant support of Denmark, I used the name Holger Danske to do my posting, I never even thought about it, When it said chose a name for your posting Holger Danske came directly to mind. Unfortunately Baron those pesky Danes got there before us.

    2. Holger Danske
    Copenhagen-based World War II resistance group named for Holger Danske , formed with the purpose of sabotage against the German occupation forces and collaborators, in the spring of 1943. Although many members of the group were arrested, and 64 members died in action, Holger Danske continued to operate (after several reconstructions), throughout the remainder of the war. In May 1945, the group counted c. 350 members, formed into three “companies”, with many subgroups.
    Originally associated with Dansk Samling, the Holger Danske group became part of Ringen in September 1944.
    Throughout its existence, the Holger Danske group carried out approximately 100 sabotage operations, including the famous strike against the Forum in Copenhagen, on August 24, 1943. The group also assassinated approximately 200 informers, at the behest of Frihedsrådet, the “governing board” of the resistance movement.
    During the final months of the war, the group developed into a veritable urban guerilla, striking against the German auxilliaries, HIPO and Sommerkorpset. During an assault on the Lundtofte air field in November 1944, 11 HIPO men were killed.
    Among the leaders of the group were the founder Josef Søndergaard; Jørgen Staffeldt; Jørgen Kieler; Hans Edvard Teglers and Knud Larsen.

  6. T-shirts! I need Holger Danske T-shirts! One with Vågner on the bottom and another with Vestens Vogter!

    C’mon Baron! Let’s start a movement!

  7. Lady Liberty has always been an international symbol. She was a gift from France, afterall.

    She was also one of the first things immigrants to Ellis Island would see and I have a (satirical)poster of her holding Das Kapital and a Sov-style sickle which was produced by the Polish underground in the 80s.

    I get your point Baron, but somehow I just don’t see the old Viking having quite the same global appeal.

    It’s great if the Danes take him up as a symbol but we’ve all got our own historical/mythological symbols of freedom and we should embrace those. Lady Liberty is one of the few that is truly universal.

    Having recently seen the awesome “300” on IMAX I think we might be waking up to a new one…

  8. It’s a nice sentiment, Nick. But let’s see… how do we want to symbolize our willingness to stand and fight, perhaps unto death, for “The West” and all its endowments, Classic Beauty holding book and torch, or really grim looking Viking Dude with a helmet and sword?

  9. Perhaps Barbarossa is starting to stir as well- or does he have too much baggage, being a Crusader and all?

    Love the Holger story. Perhaps we need to have a “super-friends” group started, with all the semi-mythical heroes of the West. Holger Danske, Barbarossa, Arthur… Doesn’t Roland fall in that group as well?

  10. Michael,

    I would say both. To preserve the beauty in our civilisation, we have to release the beast. Both are necesssary. They compliment each other.

  11. Exile,

    I’ll go along with that. But I got this disturbing image of Holger standing with his arm around Liberty and holding a beer bottle in the other hand.

    /Carlsberg, of course!
    //I know, I know. I’ll get some help…

  12. Dear Michael

    Holding a bottle of Carlsberg in his hand I don’t think so. I have passed the good gentlemen on several occasions and I have always had the feeling that the good Gentleman dropped off to sleep after having supped his filled of the good old viking brew, which by the way was normally liberally dosed with magic mushrooms. Berserker’s didn’t get there name by drinking prissy drinks like Carlsberg or Tuborg they got it by drinking beer laced with hallucinogenics. The Vikings certainly knew how to brew beer before Menheer Jacobson standardized the quality of Carlsberg. The Vikings brewed special beer for when they had to pull there boats overland to get to another river, a tradition that is still carried on by the Breweries by brewing special brews for special occasions like Christmas and Easter. When Holger wakes up he going to have a hangover and be decidedly piss off, so look out.

  13. Yorkshireminer,

    Not only that but the brew was probably warm. That alone would piss me off!

    /not a Viking
    //apropos Turing word: bznpxoff

  14. Nick —

    It’s great if the Danes take him up as a symbol but we’ve all got our own historical/mythological symbols of freedom and we should embrace those. Lady Liberty is one of the few that is truly universal.

    I totally agree. But Holger is not a symbol of Liberty; he is a symbol of Resistance. He stands for the necessity of armed struggle against those who would destroy our civilization.

    We need both symbols. Each is essential in its own way, and they must be kept separate from one another.

    Without Holger to protect her, Lady Liberty would be unable to raise her torch to guide the wretched refuse to the golden door.

  15. Dear Michael,
    my Grandfather used to say that there are no bad beers, just that some are better than others. I personally would not drink a Carlsberg or a Tuborg or my favorite Danish beer Hancocks Gold beer from Skive unless it was cold. I would certainly not drink my favourite English bitter beer, Marstons Pedigree unless it was at cellar temperature. Maybe the different ways of brewing brings out the best of a beer at the different temperatures. While Europe went one way, by using bottom fermenting yeast and storing it for at least 30 days at a low temperatue to let it mature, we in the British isles kept to a top fermenting yeast and moved the beer out to the different pub to mature in the cellars. A good beer is a good beer whether it is a Danish lager beer or an English Bitter beer. To me it a bit like comparing apples and pears a somewhat useless occupation. I just know that I like to drink my lager cold and my bitter warm. We still have that choice, Holger didn’t, and we wont have even that choice if the muslims get to run the show.

    Deep Regards


  16. Any metaphor in a storm.

    If the image of Holger wakes one person to the threat of the jihadist infil-trators undermining the West, let a million Holgers
    start kicking the somnambulists out of their multicultural fugue state.

  17. I have yet to find anyone in this fight to not use analogies to The Lord of the Rings, and it is fascinating to me that I am not alone in this. Actually, when the first movie was released so shortly after 9/11 I thought that it would become an iconic statement in terms of Western identity and what we now face, as well as the rekindling of this identity and leadership (has not everyone quoted the now famous Aragorn poem….”Not all those who wander are lost”, etc.).

    Pardon my ongoing fascination, but even Walid Phares in his book Future Jihad makes the analogies. Everything fits far too well! I recently even used yet another picture from the films for a post on CAIR’s Ahmed Bedier’s complaint of this incessant attacking by “a small band of critics”. I hope the irony wasn’t lost on him. I used a picture of the Hobbits huddled under the tree roots as the Ringwraith starts ‘sniffing’ towards them. I used a picture of the ring itself in a different post about calls for the return of the caliphate (also a Bedier post…LOL).

    I am happy to see another reference, Baron! I need to start just using Tolkien’s own artwork, but people recognize the pics from the films more. Damn, I’m a geek. Alas, now back to that 1st Edition Silmarillion…..see, told you I was a geek.

  18. I agree with Zionist the younger, the problem is imperalism – as it is with Islam right now. It is the imperialist ambition that makes them dangerous to the world.

    Basically they want to rule everything.

    Concerning nationalism – well, a nation, or townstate, is originally considered a culture (Aristotle) and supporting the culture you stem from is a good thing, gives you your own little corner of the world.

    And, ah Holger Danske. You know, you are welcome to share this mythical figure with us.

    But please consider the following: I know this might sound a little weird, but the way we danes see Holger Danske – we basically hope that he will be there in times of need. Actually standing there all alive. It is probably the last little piece of superstition we have left in our culture – but we consider this little corner of our faith sacred. We do not care about science, God or whatever when it comes to Holger Danske, after all he is the basic anchor of our people.

    In the modern, fast, internet world this sounds stupid, I know – but please consider the powers you are playing with. You are at the very roots of the Viking culture with Holger Danske, and that culture is both extremely powerful, dangerous and beautiful.

  19. Without Holger to protect her, Lady Liberty would be unable to raise her torch to guide the wretched refuse to the golden door.

    Baron, that just send shivers down my spine (the good kind)

  20. I am a latecomer to this thread, but as it was me the Baron was replying to in his email, let me just add a few comments before it vanishes into the archives.

    First, I agree that the use of symbols such as the Statue of Liberty can be powerful and constructive. My main objection to the use of “Holger Danske” has more to do with its place in the context of Danish everyday life.

    For all you non-Danes, and especially the American contingent, it is important to understand that our flag, as well as other symbols of Denmark, play a much less prominent role here than say, the Star and Stripes or the Battle of Alamo do to you. Flags are something you fly when the weather is fine or it’s somebody’s birthday – crudely speaking. Flags are generally not something you wear out of “pride of being Danish.” Doing so would probably get you laughed at, or you would be suspected of being a nostalgic right winger. Don’t forget that the only political party that does fly the flag demonstratively, the Danish People’s Party, are frowned upon for this very reason by many, despite the fact that their nationalist attitude is very, very subdued contrary to the reputation they hold.

    This is the reason I believe it will damage the cause of counterjihadism on a larger scale. I am not justifying it, just stating this as a matter of fact. Any political movement that tried to revive such symbols would be taken apart by the MSM (to the extent that they would get any mention at all) as loonies of the far right fringe.

    What we need, IMHO, is for counterjihad to become stueren, meaning literally “housetrained,” a polemical term in the Danish debate that refers to something a former Danish PM said about the DPP not being.

    Stueren would imply counterjihad becoming an issue across the political divide, as the realization that is needed is for everybody to understand that the divide that matters is islam vs. the khafir. This effort would be severely hampered by the use of nationalist symbols such as “Holger Danske,” with its – rightly or wrongly – connotations of loony Danish racism.

    In another thread somebody mentioned the BNP and the Sikhs forming an alliance in the UK. If this means the BNP is on its way to shedding its loony racist past, this may be a hint of the kind of across-the-spectrum alliances I am talking about.

  21. Count me in, Baron. I purchased the Holger Danske golf shirt yesterday and I buy Danisg Butter Cookies when I can (Boy, that makes me a real anti-Jihadist, doesn’t it?!) But I fight on a paperwork front. In my job, I have access to many Islamic documents published in such places as Saudia Arabia and Pakistan. And I’m reading and photocopying for all to see… –Timbre

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