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Reidar Dittmann

Tonsberg, Norway

Reidar was the third of four sons born to religious Lutheran parents in a small seafaring and whaling town along the Norwegian coast. Reidar's father was a civil servant. Reidar attended public school and dreamed of becoming a musician.

1933-39: Although I was not interested in politics, I sympathized with our Jewish neighbors who had come as refugees from Germany. In fall 1939 I was saddened when Germany attacked Poland and the USSR attacked Finland. Several days later, my oldest brother passed away. On Christmas Eve, as my aunt and cousins joined us at our home, we learned that my uncle had also died--his merchant ship was sunk by a German submarine.

1940-44: I was arrested 6 months after the Germans occupied Norway. My crime was disorderly conduct and leading young people in singing anti-German songs. My sentence was 6 weeks imprisonment. After being released, I joined the resistance and helped sabotage our local shipyard. When a new ship sank upon launching, I was arrested again. I received a life sentence, but the Norwegian Nazi government amnestied 1,000 political prisoners in February 1942. After my third offense, the Germans deported me to Buchenwald.

Reidar survived 30 months of captivity in Buchenwald. Released to the Swedish Red Cross on March 18, 1945, he returned to Norway before emigrating to the United States in 1945.

 

My father, Reidar Dittmann, died on December 29, 2010 at the age of 88.

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