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In Køge he is just called Tailor-Fritz. The uncrowned king of smugglers, Fritz Nielsen, 53, is an ordinary little grey man hiding in the crowd. So common that people who have seen him every day for years cannot constantly describe him. He looks like what he is officially: a smooth worker who lives quietly on his disability pension. Yesterday, he was convicted of owing the state over half a million kroner in duties and taxes on cigarettes and spirits, which he has smuggled to Denmark from East Germany.

The tailor from Køge is Denmark's biggest smuggler. Even before the arrest In November last year, he owed the Treasury, which pays him a disability pension, a quarter of a million. Yesterday, the national court upheld the sentence of one year in prison with confiscation of DKK 265,000. Money that the state probably never gets.

The silent smuggler

When Fritz Nielsen is not in prison, he lives in a small apartment, Nørregade 73, in Køge. He has lived in the city most of his life. But not many people in the city know him. He has a few friends that he stays with. On the other hand, hardly any enemies. Police have never found any of his purchases of contraband. Tailor Fritz would rather spend half a year in prison than speak. When he was arrested in the big Køge Bay smuggler / spy case in 1959-60, he was jailed for a year without telling the tolls and the police anything. The silent smugglers began his amazing life as a tailor. But he quickly got tired of putting his legs on the table. He has always been strongly politically engaged, for years a member of the Communist Party of Denmark, and in 1937 he volunteered for Spain, where he fought in the civil war against Franco. For two years he joined the front, was wounded three times and later highly decorated for his efforts. When he went home, he worked as a tailor again after a time of recreation. He was married for a short time but divorced fairly quickly. He has two boys, one forwarder in Germany, the other student in Copenhagen.


A few days after the German occupation of Denmark In 1940 Fritz Nielsen began as smuggler. Trafficker. He helped many political refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, from Zealand to Sweden. Later, he actively joined the resistance movement. He was in Jutland, where he received English paratroopers, trained saboteurs and published illegal magazines. That was the last time he was taken by the Germans. He was put in Horsens train house. The English paratroopers were afraid that he would speak out over him during the gestures of torture. That is why they were planning an Escape coup. Fritz Nielsen had been told to stay clear. Everything was arranged when a prison officer spoke and the plan leaked. The Danish police handed him over to Gestapo in Copenhagen, and he was sentenced to five years in a German war court. Later he was still given a sentence of five years. It was the punishment that made him invalid. He got TB from his stay in the German concentration camps. When he came to Sweden with Bernadotte in 1945, his one lung was destroyed. He started working in 1947, but in 1950 he had to spend six months in hospital. He has since received disability pension. In addition, he has worked with a little of each, in a rubber factory, in a paint shop, as a merchant. He has traded in everything from farms and ships to cars. But first and foremost: smuggling.

Sentenced as an Eastern spy

He was the principal in the great Køge Bay case in 1959. He was sentenced to two years in prison for espionage in favour of East Germany. Shortly thereafter, he received a nine-month sentence for smuggling. And when the punishment was imprisoned, he continued. Until November last year, when he was arrested in Skælskør harbour with 800,000 cigarettes in the fastest smuggling boat the Tolderne has ever seen: A motor yacht with two six-cylinder engine that gave a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour. Denmark's biggest smugglers are currently out of the picture. But the case is not over. His accomplice, Carl Emanuel Petersen (who was sentenced to three years in prison for espionage in the Køge Bay case), fled from Skælskør. He is being chased by the customs, police and intelligence services. He is associated with a large number of mysterious settlements in South Zealand, Lolland Falster and Mon. So far, he has led everyone behind the lights, even when he was visiting smuggler contacts in Copenhagen. He lives in East Germany, where Fritz Nielsen also has many connections. Why did he continue with his smuggling after the 1960 conviction? It's a bit of an enigma. He's not a gangster. Just a little grey man disappearing into the crowd.