Bent Faurschou Hviid, who was born January 7, 1921, later became a member of the Danish resistance group Holger Danske during World War II. Because of his red hair, Hviid was nicknamed “Flammen,” which means “The Flame.” In 1951, he and his Resistance partner Jørgen Haagen Schmith, were posthumously awarded the United States Medal of Freedom by President Harry Truman. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of the United States, alongside the Congressional Gold Medal. The award is not limited to US citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.
If you were to ask the men who were a part of the Holger Danske, they would tell you that no other resistance member was as hated or sought after by the Germans as was Hviid. Leader of the Holger Danske from 1943 through 1945, Gunnar Dyrberg said in the 2003 Danish documentary film, “With a Right to Kill,” that no one knows exactly how many executions “The Flame” performed, but he was rumored to have killed 22 persons. In all, it is said that the Holger Danske carried out an estimated 400 executions…performed by the Resistance agents, but apparently no one man executed more than Hviid.
Hviid grew up during World War I and was 20 when the Germans occupied Denmark. He was not about to just sit back and let the Nazis take over his country…at least, not without a fight. He entered the Holger Danske resistance group in Copenhagen. He was assigned to kill Danish Nazi officials and collaborators…traitors, who in Hviid’s opinion, did not deserve to live.
“Flammen” often partnered with “Citronen” whose real name was Jørgen Haagen Schmith. “Citronen” means “the lemon.” Schmith got this nickname because he sabotaged a Citroën garage, destroying six German cars and a tank. Citronen usually drove for Flammen, who executed their given targets. The two men were the most famous resistance duo in Denmark during World War II. While they often worked together, the Germans put the highest bounty on Flammen’s head that they offered for any Resistance fighter, due to the Faurschou of Germans who were executed by Flammen.
On October 18, 1944, while Hviid was having dinner with his landlady and some other guests, someone knocked at the door. When the door was opened, a German officer demanded entry. Hviid, who was unarmed that evening, quickly went upstairs seeking to escape across the roof. When he reached the roof, he saw that the house was surrounded. Refusing to be taken alive, Hviid chewed a cyanide capsule and was dead a few seconds later.
The witnesses later told of how they could hear the German soldiers upstairs cheering at the sight of the corpse. For the Germans, the form of death that took “The Flammen” out made no difference to the German soldiers. All that mattered was that he was dead. The soldiers dragged Hviid downstairs feet first, repeatedly causing his head to bang against the stairs as they went. I suppose it was a show of disrespect or perhaps, triumph for them, although they did not cause his death really.