Duke's Boys af Lise Muusmann

Duke's Boys af Lise Muusmann

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The year is 1961. At the school for unwanted boys, called simply ‘the Home’, there are 40 boys incarcerated, aged between 8 – 18 years. These boys have been placed there by the Danish social work authorities. The principal of the school is one Knud Bosse, a sadistic man who violently mistreats the boys. Nobody is spared. Life at the Home is miserable to put it mildly. There is barely any actual schooling, instead there is plenty of work detail to be done in various workshops and market gardens. But one day Dennis, 15, gets the incredible idea of forming a secret Jazz band with some of his mates. Dennis' great hero and Jazz idol is Duke Ellington; Dennis had been taught to play the piano by his late father, who was a Jazz pianist. With fierce commitment, love, and an apparently inexhaustible supply of cunning, Dennis and his comrades manage to smuggle instruments to an outlying barn for 9 boys to form a band. The entire project is top secret – as is a tunnel Dennis finds under the old barn leading beyond the the school’s compound. The secret tunnel becomes of paramount importance for their band and offers a glimmer of light on an otherwise very dark horizon. This is a fictionalised story based on interviews with surviving inmates from Godhavn, an orphanage for unwanted boys, in Denmark. The current Danish government has apologised in August 2019, for the ill treatment and subsequent cover up of events at the Home. Mette Frederikson's apology: “All of you who were placed in orphanages in the post-war era and were so cruelly let down by the community that was supposed to look after you. I want to say this: there comes a day. Today is your day. It is a highly emotional day. I hereby fulfill my promise and today Denmark will apologize for all that happened to you when you were children. In our time there has been serious failure in duty of care and grave abuse carried out on children who were in the custodial care of the community. This happened at a time when the Danish state was responsible for supervising social welfare. As children you were removed from your mothers and fathers and instead of care, you were subjected to abuse. You were told that what happened was your own fault. The most important thing today is to say once and for all: It was not your fault. It was the adults' fault. It was the adults who committed the abuses and those adults who did not intervene. It was the fault of the community that closed its eyes. (…) You lost the one childhood we have in our lives. What you have experienced is, in my eyes, one of the darkest chapters in our history, which contradicts all that Denmark stands for. I cannot take the blame upon myself, but I can take responsibility. You have waited a long time for this, but now you shall wait no more. For the past, the present and our future, I want to look each one of you in the eyes and say: 'I apologize'. I apologize for the wrongs committed against you and your loved ones. For those who suffered then and who still are, and for those whose suffering came after, on behalf of Denmark, I am sorry.'' - Mette Frederikson
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