Knud Dyby, a Danish resister who helped more than 1,000 Jews escape Denmark during World War II — and who was honored by numerous Jewish organizations, as well as the State of Israel — died Sept. 8 in Novato. He was 96.

“To me, it didn’t make a difference what religion they had. It didn’t make any difference what they were,” Dyby said in a 2007 interview with j. “To me, it was just Danes who were in danger.”

Longtime friend Martin Dvorin of Novato called Dyby, a 40-year resident of Marin, “a true hero, and a very popular guy.”

Knud Dyby

Dyby was born in 1915 in Denmark. After completing military service, Dyby joined the Danish national police force. When the Germans moved into Denmark in 1940, he joined up with several underground resistance groups, including Holger Danske and the Danish-Swedish Refugee Service. Altogether, the Danish resistance movement helped evacuate 8,000 Jews into Sweden.

After the war, he moved to the U.S. in 1946, eventually settling in Novato. In the mid-1980s, as more Holocaust survivors began talking publicly about their experiences, Dyby, too, began to share his story and became a frequent speaker at local schools.

He retained a lighthearted spirit through it all. “He was always ready with a smile, a joke,” said his daughter, Susanne Dyby, recalling a trip to Mexico they took around his 90th birthday.

Dyby is survived by his brother, Sven Olsen, and his daughter, Susanne Dyby.

Information on funeral services was pending at press time.

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is a former J. staff writer.