The Danish cell

Design: Ida Balslev-Olsen

The first volume of Peter Øvig’s books about the Blekinge Gang follows the gang members from their time in high school, through their first robberies and up to 1980, when one of the central members of the gang was killed.

The story begins in the late 1960s when the communists Gotfred Appel and Ulla Hauton gather a group of young people around them and send them to a military training camp in Jordan operated by the PFLP, ‘The People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine’.

Under the cover name of ‘The Apples’, as early as the first half of the seventies the group functioned as an illegal cell which procured weapons and money for the Palestinians by means of a series of the greatest heists in Denmark’s history, which the police have never been able to clear up.

The Danish cell formed part of an international network which also included the Baader-Meinhof gang and ‘Carlos the Jackal’. The gang’s most important member was Appel’s right hand man, the charismatic and womanising fireman Holger Jensen, who for ten years was to lead the gang’s criminal and international activities.

‘The Danish Cell’ is the first independent volume of two which narrate the documentary history of the Blekinge Gang based on conversations with people involved and confidential police and secret service archives.

In August 2007, the first volume of The Blekinge Gang received an award from the Danish Art Fund on the grounds that the book “is a deeply fascinating document, in which a whole arsenal of rhetorical ploys and devices were used to unravel, chart and bring to life one of the most bizarre episodes in Danish post-war history.”

Published in Danish only (Gyldendal, 2007)


“One reads 440 pages with all your nerves on edge. Because Øvig is able, with eminent linguistic precision, by changing points of view and leaps forwards and backwards in time to orchestrate his enormous research material with virtuosity – a journalistic, historic and artistic fete of the rarest and most important kind.”
Jakob Levinsen,

The film based on the book

“With his books about the Nazi Occupation, Øvig made new and surprising contributions to Danish history (read: repression) about five dark years. And with this book about the Blekinge Gang, Øvig confirms in no mean terms that he is probably the present times’ brightest, most searching and at the same time most incredibly readable documentary writer.”
Michael Kristiansen,
Berlingske Tidende

“Peter Øvig Knudsen sets new standards for documentary narrative … that much-abused critics’ cliché ‘hair-raising reading’ is on this rare occasion appropriate.”
Svend Skriver,
Ekstra Bladet

“Peter Øvig Knudsen’s book is an eye-opener. In these times of terrorism topping the agenda in the Western World, it is truly surprising just what he is able tell about this sectarian and strongly left-wing group.”
Jens Nauntofte
P1 Morgen, DR

Posts on the book\’s blog