The Statue’s Origins
A bronze statue of the figure Holger the Dane, or Holger Danske, was commissioned for Hotel Marienlyst in Elsinore in 1907. The plaster figure on which the statue was based was set up in the casemates of Kronborg and gradually became much more famous than the bronze version. The statue was sculpted by Hans Pedersen-Dan.
In 1985, the plaster cast had to be replaced with a concrete replica because the plaster cast had been ruined by the damp climate of the casemates.
For centuries, Holger the Dane has been an important national symbol for the Danish people.
The legend did not originate in Denmark at all, however, but appeared for the first time in Chanson de Roland, a principal work in medieval French literature. Holger the Dane appears in the work as one of Charlemagne’s great warriors named “Ogier le Danois”.
Later the tale of Holger the Dane wandered northward, appearing for the first time in Scandinavia around 1510. A Danish version of the tale was published in 1534 entitled “Kong Olger Danskes Krønike”, or The Chronicle of King Olger the Dane. As the author Christiern Pedersen came from Elsinore, the heroic figure became naturally associated with Kronborg. The book was republished several times and was a primary source of inspiration for the Danish populace’s knowledge and awareness of the bearded giant Holger the Dane.
According to the legend, when the kingdom is threatened by a foreign enemy, the stone figure will turn into flesh and blood, and Holger the Dane will rise up to defend his country.
The legend of this heroic mythical character was also a source of inspiration for literature and music. Hans Christian Andersen, for instance, wrote the fairytale “Holger the Dane” in 1845, and B. S. Ingemann wrote a poem in 1837 about Holger the Dane that later found favour when it was set to a melody written by composer J. C. Gebauer.
Various other parts of Europe have their own “giants” who sit dormant waiting to emerge and rescue their country in time of need. In Poland the figur Knight” and sits in the Tatra Mountains. In Germany, Frederik I Hohenstauffen, nicknamed “Barbarossa” sits in the “Barbarossahöhle” in the Kyffhäusser Mountains south of the Harz. Legendary figures are also found in the Baltic States.
In other words, this is a common European legend handed down partly in novels and poems and partly as wandering folk tales.
The Holger the Dane Resistance Cell
The fact that the legend was an important element of the national psyche is evidenced by one of the most important resistance cells during the German occupation of Denmark from 1940 to 1945 which operated under the name “Holger Danske”.
Holger the Dane on Film
The story of the legendary figure Holger the Dane was told on film during an exhibition in 2010 to February 2011. You can still see the film below:Last updated:: Monday, July 23, 2012