The son

Title and year
The son, 1939-40

Granite from the island of Bornholm

Axel Poulsen, 1887-1972

Genforeningsparken, Haderslevvej 7, Aabenraa.


Poetry and pathos are recurring features in the work of the sculptor Axel Poulsen, making him the obvious choice for the commissioning of several memorials. These include the Reunification Monument at Fælledparken commons in Copenhagen, and the monuments for fallen soldiers at Mindeparken memorial park in rhus and Mindelunden memorial grove in Ryvangen, north of Copenhagen.

The son is also a memorial, in this case raised in honour of H.P. Hanssen (1867–1942), a prominent “Danish-minded” politician who championed the struggle to reunify South Jutland with Denmark. The main thrust of his work was to ensure that the redrawing of the Danish–German border be based on the opinions of the region’s population, and not on purely political agreements. On the statue’s base, above a relief of Hanssen’s face, an inscription reads (here with our translation):

Trofast Søn af Danmark
Modigt han i ærlig kamp
Moders Sag har værnet

Faithful son of Denmark
valiant in honest battle
he was his Mother’s shield

In 2020, the monument was moved to the newly established Reunification Park (Genforeningsparken) to commemorate the centennial of the referendum that once again made South Jutland a part of Denmark. The new park brings the balcony of the Folkehjem building into focus, metaphorically as part of the region’s poignant historical narrative, and physically as an architectural highlight: In 1918, from this balcony, H.P. Hanssen announced to the citizens assembled there in tense anticipation that the “Aabenraa Resolution” meant that a regional referendum would be held about redrawing the border – which could (and did) lead to the region’s reunification with Denmark.