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Category: Denmark

Why did I survive, whereas the children died …?

Saturday, August 28th, 1976 a Lockheed C-141A with 27 passengers on board crashed when landing in Kangerlussuaq by the fiord in Greenland. Only four of the 27 persons on the…

Saturday, August 28th, 1976 a Lockheed C-141A with 27 passengers on board crashed when landing in Kangerlussuaq by the fiord in Greenland.

Only four of the 27 persons on the plane survived. Two were native Greenlanders, one person from the American crew – and the young, Danish carpenter Bjarne.

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I woke up during the approach to Kangerlussuaq when the captain told us to put on the safety belts. I stuffed the cigarettes back in my pocket and made myself comfortable in my seat. Through the small plexi-glass window I noticed that we were flying very low.  I could see the sand dunes along Kangerlussuaq fiord, and I remember thinking that we were flying very fast.

Then we hit the ground hard, next the pilot freaked out and he floored the gas as if he was driving a Formel-1 racing car, this gave us a kick back up in the air. I heard later on, that he used to be fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, so he pulled the plane back up as if it were a jet fighter, whereupon one of the wings banked into the ground. And then he panicked.

When I saw the flash from the first explosion I just had time to think: ”Now we are in real trouble.”

Then I remembered that we were skidding out in a circle, so my glasses flew off and were crushed on the floor, and that my friend Bjarne looked at me nervously. Then I hit my head against the seat and passed out. When I woke up again there was another explosion.

For a second I was in shock. I sat in the infernal noise and watched a black American who screamed and screamed. His clothes had completely burned off his body, and with his hands reaching towards heaven he collapsed and was dead.

Finally the seriousness of the catastrophe hit me. Suddenly everything and everybody was on fire. People were burning like torches. Everybody screamed.  Burning fuel was squirting out all over the floor, and the fire was approaching my friend and me. I was panic stricken when my pants burned, and the plane was now a roaring blaze.

Everything had turned into a total chaos of screams, flame, smoke and a searing heat. Everybody instinctively thought: Let me out of here, Out, out, out… You react like an animal in a situation like that. It’s all instinct. Pure drive for survival. You can all kiss my you-know-what. I just have to get out of here. That’s what everybody thinks.

’You are going to die, Bjarne, You are going to die!’ This thought was ripping at my brain. And while the fire was licking up my legs, I fought my safety belt. It wouldn’t open. I pulled and tore at the buckle and thought of only one thing: To get away from the flames. Finally I succeeded in opening it. Then the second explosion occurred, and everything went black…

A short time later I woke up again. 13.210 gallons of burning fuel developed 2.550 degrees Celsius, similar to the conditions in a crematory oven, and everything was still total chaos. There were flames everywhere – and I was on fire as well – and there was pitch black smoke. I wanted out, but I couldn’t free myself.

I was lying among the suitcases, and I couldn’t tear myself free. My feet were stuck. I pulled and pulled, but I was stuck. So at that moment I decided to die. This was it. I was going to end my life, 23 years old, in this plane in Greenland.

I was certain of that, while the screams of those people, with whom I had just been chatting and joking, slowly died down. I lied down flat on my back. This was it. Oh my God, I give up, I’ll just lie down and die.

But suddenly my entire life passed in front of my eyes, and I saw my wife, Jonna, and our two small children, Brian and little Berrit, six and two years old in front of me… Hell no! I had to fight. ”If you don’t succeed doing so now, you will never get free, never get home to your wife and your kids,” I thought.

And then, I don’t know how it happened. But suddenly I found strength! To Hell if my toes stay stuck in those suitcases, I thought. I used my last strength  and pulled hard. And I got free!

How I managed to find the hole out of the plane by the broken tail, and how I managed to get out, I have no idea, but I have been told, that I came staggering out of the plane as the last survivor with several parts of me on fire and steaming from smoke and heat.

Some might imagine that you become religious, when you survive a plane crash like this one.  I did not. I am an atheist, and I am convinced that I survived by coincidence and a stroke of enormously good luck. If I hadn’t found a place to exit the plane, I would have been fried just like the others.

On the contrary I believe, that I was lucky to be seated by the wing, and that I was saved because I was wearing incredibly many layers of clothes – from long johns to lots of jackets, because I knew it would be cold in the plane.

During the first 15 years following the crash up to the beginning of the 1990’ies I suffered from horrendous nightmares. I woke up seeing flashes of light and hearing the crash of the first explosion, and I could smell the smoke from the jet fuel during the dream – then I’d jump out of bed.

Fortunately my nightmares have become more and more rare – but for the remainder of my life I will still be plagued by a terrible feeling of guilt because I am alive. Unfortunately, this feeling of guilt has weighed more heavily than the joy of life and of being a survivor.

The feeling of guilt came right away. Why should I survive, and not some of the others? Why wasn’t it my friend, who sat right next to me, who survived? I keep asking myself “Wouldn’t you have been able to rescue some of the others?”

It’s just as if  … I don’t actually know if he who died and burned to death in the next seat were a better person than I. So I keep asking myself why – much too frequently and much too much. But I do try to let it go, to push it away from me, or else I’ll just go crazy.

I’m feeling that my psychic health is much improved, however, it is as if I have become a bit more pessimistic as a result of that plane crash. It actually is not as if I see black holes all around me, but I have a somewhat harder time perceiving the joys. Something is broken in me. I’m no longer the same person. August 28th, 1976 hit me very hard, and my children both feel and see this as well.

Why should I be saved? Why did the guy sitting next to me and the four children die? Thoughts like these have probably trumped living in the moment…

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Bjarne, 65   

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Photo: Nicky Bonne

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The sailor who became a woman

It isn’t so uncommon to be homosexual, but to be born with the wrong body is much worse. That’s what I struggled with through all the years as a man…

It isn’t so uncommon to be homosexual, but to be born with the wrong body is much worse.

That’s what I struggled with through all the years as a man with the name Hugo, and when I reached my forties I feared that I would never be able to succeed in life.  So I tried to commit suicide and ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

I felt that I was now too old to ever live a normal life. I was afraid to tell anybody. It was horrible. I was in the wrong body, and whenever I left the bathroom and passed the big mirror in the hallway I thought that I just didn’t look right.

During the period between 2000 and 2002. I began discussing it with the folks at Denmark’s biggest hospital, but their perceptions differed vastly from mine. They believe my condition is a psychological flaw caused by a bad upbringing, but that’s not what this is all about. You are born this way. It’s something genetic, and it can’t be helped. In the end, I was refused an operation

Then I decided to handle matters myself.
I knew others, who underwent operations by Doctor Preecha in Thailand. He’s tops in the world and he had operated on more than 2,500 before me. I have never had any problems after the procedure. Everything performs perfectly.

He removed my penis, gave me a vagina, and I got to look quite normal.

Now my body is the way it’s supposed to be and today I live a quiet and normal life as Anette. I live alone, but I have not given up on love. After all, you might suddenly encounter love at the library or in a shop. Here you are, grabbing a can of tomatoes and he may be standing right there and say “hi” …

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Anette, 61   

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Watch Anette tell her story – in danish with English subtitles – 8 minutes.

 

 

 

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Walking on Sunshine …

Kim is a member of the crew, who is playing ‘The Book of Mormon’ at Det Ny teater (The New Theatre) in Copenhagen until May this year. The Danish production…

Kim is a member of the crew, who is playing ‘The Book of Mormon’ at Det Ny teater (The New Theatre) in Copenhagen until May this year.

The Danish production of the successful musical has gotten amazing reviews.

Every night before Kim goes out on stage, he looks at his feet and feels grateful.

In this movie, he tells why.

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Kim, 40   

6 minutes, in English

 

 

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Sugarbabe & Sugardaddy – the open relationship

She is young and comes from Poland, he is 31 years older than her and from Denmark. For three years they have been together as a couple. The last two…

She is young and comes from Poland, he is 31 years older than her and from Denmark.
For three years they have been together as a couple. The last two years in an open relationship where they allow each other to have sex with others. Oliwia dates older mature men and she receives luxurious gifts, fancy dinners and expensive trips. Carsten dates other young women. And sometimes they have a threesome with another woman.

‘I have been sugardating for two years and I have met men from all over the world. I am extremely attracted to the luxurious life which includes expensive clothes, expensive restaurants and expensive hotels. I love my life, although it has occasionally been a struggle because I come from a Catholic family in Poland, and sometimes Carsten and I also have to deal with jealousy. Today we have both accepted that our partner has sex with others.’
Oliwia, 24   

‘When the energy stagnates in a lake, the water begins to rot. You find the same mechanism in a relationship. It is necessary to interact with the surroundings. We love each other, and we still challenge our relationship every single day, because it ties us closer together. There are still so much, we would like to explore sexually with other partners but also the two of us with a third person. I love to experience the differences in women – not only sexual but also culturel. Before I met Oliwia, I had three lovers and seven mistresses at the same time. I lived in a polyamorous relationship, and all my lovers knew each other.’
Carsten, 55   

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Video in English – 12 minutes.

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The last goodbye to my old class teacher

A few years ago I read that my old class teacher had died, and I was so moved, that I wanted to go to his funeral. I kind of needed…

A few years ago I read that my old class teacher had died, and I was so moved, that I wanted to go to his funeral. I kind of needed to be there. I believe that we all meet people at a certain time of our lives, who we, without even knowing it, will be deeply affected by.

At the funeral I met his wife, and I know that we met back at school when I was a pupil, and suddenly I remembered that she said the most incredible things to me when I was a boy.

She had the ability to see through me, and somehow she made me aware that there were positive things about going to school. Things I could not see because I in my 5th or 6th year stopped trying, and my good grades dropped.

The funeral ended up being quite moving, because I suddenly felt that so much of what I had kept inside of me, was released in that church …

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Pete, 62    

 

 

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I’m no longer just the worried mother …

Deep inside I am filled with happiness and gratitude, and I feel extremely lucky. I’m living together with a wonderful man. I love him and he loves me. And I…

Deep inside I am filled with happiness and gratitude, and I feel extremely lucky. I’m living together with a wonderful man. I love him and he loves me. And I have a wonderful daughter.

When I look at her I think: ‘We made it. We made it! ‘
We have had stormy conflicts where I have been convinced that I lost her forever. ‘Now she travels to the United States, and I will never see her again’, I thought.

But it all ended happily.

Today she is 29, and she is studying to be an actor. She is really happy with her choice of education, and sometimes she even asks me about things. How amazing, that I can help her.
She is becoming an actor, and now I actually have some knowledge, that I can share with my daughter. Knowledge that she can use for something. I’m no longer just the worried mother …

Today I have a power that surprises me.

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Hella, 55   

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I died in 2005 …

I died a weekend in 2005. I was out with my friends, and halfway through a go-cart race, my head suddenly dropped down on the steering wheel, and I crashed…

I died a weekend in 2005.

I was out with my friends, and halfway through a go-cart race, my head suddenly dropped down on the steering wheel, and I crashed into the tires that encircled the track. I had stopped breathing; I had no pulse and my friends immediately started resuscitation.

At the hospital, I was put on a medical ventilator and they cooled down my body temperature to 30 degrees until the following Tuesday. Then I woke up and slowly came round.

The next day, I was moved to a larger hospital in Odense, where I was in the Coronary Care Unit. From there I could see the red rooftops of the ward where they treat patients with cancer – and I really loved my own situation.

I was alive. I did not have cancer. I was just tired. But I was able to enjoy even the smallest things in a positive way.
I was treated well – the nurses and doctors were sweet and friendly. And I was alive and I would soon be able to get back home to my lovely wife and my two daughters.

But then problems arose when the doctors discovered, that my coronary arteries were completely blocked. Strange. I had been a professional football-player, and I have never been smoking. So I had a Quintuple bypass operation. Five of the coronary arteries were bypassed.

Before I could go back home I got infections and had to stay longer in hospital. Finally I could return home after a 32 days stay at different hospitals.

Since then I have been living in the present moment.

We have bought a caravan, we travel to Southern Europe, we play golf, we have fun with our daughters, and we are always trying to be positive. I am trying to get the best out of every situation. It can be difficult sometimes, but it is worth fighting for.
No one can take away my life.

And on my mobile I have this Dire Straits song as a ringtone:

‘There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife. You do the walk, you do the walk of life … ‘

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Hans Peter, 61   

 

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I wish my dresses could tell me stories …

I love my dresses! I have more than 250 – most of them are from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I buy them on ebay and in thrift shops all over…

I love my dresses!

I have more than 250 – most of them are from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I buy them on ebay and in thrift shops all over the world. I prefer the dresses from America and England, because they are usually in great condition and the quality is superb.

Sometimes I am lucky to find beautiful handmade dresses and even designer dresses at a very low price.

Wearing these dresses makes me feel quite feminine and special, because they are so unique. I especially love the colours and the shapes of these vintage dresses.

I wish they could tell me stories about the women, who loved them – their hopes and dreams about the future, and also stories about the parties and concerts they were at.

Somehow these dresses have souls.

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Henriette, 42   

 

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I still have all the pictures in my head …

In the twilight of an autumn day in 1966, we were a bunch of kids who rode our bikes to get to a garden filled with pear trees. In our…

In the twilight of an autumn day in 1966, we were a bunch of kids who rode our bikes to get to a garden filled with pear trees. In our opinion, the owner had far too many pears for him to eat alone, so we stuffed our pockets with pears. When we wanted to get back home, I was the first to cross the road.

I was nine years old.

When I turned to see if my six year old little sister Karen was behind me, I saw her being hit by a car and she was killed instantly. There was no time for me to warn her.
I still have all the pictures in my head. I see the bicycle underneath the car, and the crumbled bicycle frame, that sparkled while being pushed across the asphalt. I did not see my sister, because she had been thrown into the air.

That day, my bright childhood had suddenly turned into a black night.

My parents came running towards us and some of our neighbours took care of my two brothers and me while my father and mother rode in the ambulance to the hospital. When they returned home in the evening, they woke me up and told me that Karen was dead.

For a long time after the accident, I was filled up with a blend of guilt, sadness, despair and desperation, and I am grateful that my parents decided to have another child, and I was allowed to witness the birth of my baby brother the year after Karen’s death.

It was probably the best healing of the pain at all, that I within a year experienced death in a very brutal way, but also was allowed to experience the birth of a new baby.

Life gives and life takes, and today I am 60 years old and the Danish Minister for Culture.

And my baby brother I witnessed being born, is the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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Mette, 60   

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The freedom of being a fisherman

I bought my little fishing boat two years ago. It was an old dream to get it and be a part time fisherman, and I enjoy going out fishing once…

I bought my little fishing boat two years ago. It was an old dream to get it and be a part time fisherman, and I enjoy going out fishing once a week, although it does not make me a millionaire. I have paid 300,000 Danish kroner for the old boat, and last year I earned 40,000 kroner.

I sell the fish here at the port to private customers and the rest os the fish I sell to a fishmonger in my hometown.

I have named the boat ‘Maja’. That’s the name of my sister. My girlfriend and I have no children and she would not let me use her name. She comes from a large fishing family, where all the boats have alway been named after the girls’ names. She does not want to be a part of that game anymore.

The best thing about fishing alone? Freedom. And the fact whether is’s a success only depends on me.

The rest of the week I work as a handy man on an estate.

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Jakob, 40   

 

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