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Grini Concentration Camp


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Grini prison camp (NorwegianGrini fangeleirGermanPolizeihäftlingslager Grini) was a Nazi concentration camp in BærumNorway, which operated between 1941 and May 1945.

Grini was originally built as a women's prison, near an old croft named Ilen (also written Ihlen), on land bought from the Løvenskiold family by the Norwegian state. The construction of a women's prison started in 1938, but despite being more or less finished in 1940, it did not come into use for its original purpose: Nazi Germany's invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940, during World War II, instead precipitated the use of the site for detention by the Nazi regime. At first, the Nazis used the prison to detain Norwegian officers captured during the Norwegian Campaignfighting. This use was discontinued in June 1940, when Norway capitulated. The prison was then used to house Wehrmacht soldiers, until a concentration camp was established on 14 June 1941. The first detainees were sent from Åneby concentration camp, the use of which was at the same time discontinued. Shortly afterwards, the ranks of prisoners were increased by detainees captured during Operation Barbarossa. The camp was run by Schutzstaffel and Gestapo personnel, who renamed the camp Polizeihäftlingslager Grini. The name corresponds to a nearby farm and surrounding residential district located a short distance southeast of the camp, but historically the area at Ilen had no connection to Grini farm.

At first inmates were detained on the premises of the original prison, but in 1942 an extra barracks had to be built to enlarge capacity. Grini was used primarily for Norwegian political prisoners, but the detention of more regular criminals followed. Many were held at Grini before being shipped to camps in Germany; 3,402 people in total passed through the camp en route to camps in Germany itself. Similarly, many teachers who took part in the civil disobedience of 1942 were held at Grini for one day before being taken to Kirkenes via Jørstadmoen. A small number of foreign citizens were also held there. Altogether, 19,247 prisoners passed through Grini, and at most (in February 1945) there were 6,208, although not all of these actually sat at Grini at a given time.

The total number killed at Grini is unknown, though the Gestapo and police often used the area for purposes of torture and at least eight people were executed there. British airborne troops sent by glider to sabotage the Norsk Hydro heavy-water plant during Operation Freshmancrashed in Norway due to foul weather. The five uninjured survivors were taken prisoner and held at Grini concentration camp until 18 January 1943, when they were taken to nearby woods, blindfolded and shot in the back of the head by the Gestapo. This was a war crime, in breach of the Geneva ConventionExecutions normally took place at Akershus Fortress or Trandumskogen.

Camps in other parts of Norway, including FannremKvænangen and Bardufoss, were organized as part of the Grini system. German forces also maintained a military camp at Huseby, not far from Grini.

Other than guards, the German occupiers devoted few personnel to the camp. Since many politicians, academics and cultural personalities were detained at Grini, a certain level of internal organization was established. Prisoners worked in manufacturing, agriculture and other manual labor. Much of this manual labor took place outside the camp. Some detainees maintained their pre-war specialties, such as literary historian Francis Bull who secretly held several lectures, and managed to publish three books with material written during his three-year stay at Grini.

The diet at Grini was poor. After the war, it caused a certain stir in the populace when it was perceived that Nazi prisoners of the liberated Norway were treated better than prisoners of the Nazi regime; among other things the diet in Norwegian prisons was much better. On the other hand, Grini was more hospitable to resistance prisoners than the similar camps in Germany.

On 7 May 1945 Harry Söderman, who was in charge of the education of the Norwegian police troops in Sweden, arrived in the camp and ordered commander Zeidler to arrange an assembly, first for the 5,000 male prisoners, and then for the 500 females. The women were released immediately, while the male detainees were asked to stay in the camp for a few days until transport could be arranged, and leadership of the camp was handed over to the prisoners' representatives. Prisoners from Møllergata 19 and Victoria Terrasse were transferred to Grini the same day.

After the liberation of Norway in May 1945, the prison was used for Norwegians tried or convicted of treason or collaboration, as a part of thelegal purge in Norway after World War II. Since the name "Grini" was now associated with the Norwegian resistance movement, hence seen as heroic, the camp was renamed Ilebu. The new name also reflected the actual location of the camp better. 3,440 people were imprisoned here in July 1945. The conditions in the camp were unhealthy, with beri-beri breaking out in the summer. A guard reported that punitive exercise was used in a harsh way. on 13 October 1945 Utrykningspolitiet performed a razzia. During the razzia, prosecutor Lauritz Jenssen Dorenfeldt and the wife of camp director Helge Gleditsch were wrongly rounded up in the yard.

It was closed in 1951 but reopened in the same year under the name Ila as a "landsfengsel og sikringsanstalt" (national prison and security institution), a prison for criminals serving long-term sentences.

Much of the camp, including the barracks, has been torn down. One preserved barracks building today stands at Kadettangen. There is also a museum, the Grini Museum, near today's Ila prison.  The preserved barracks was moved back in 2010.


Prisoner~Ernst Gervin


Ernst Ancher Gervin 

(6 December 1908 – 27 January 1978)

Was a Norwegian magazine editor.

He was born as Ernst Ancher Hanssen, but changed his name to Gervin in 1948. He was the editor-in-chief of Norsk Ukeblad from 1934 til 1952 and Hjemmet from 1952 to 1964. From 1965 to 1976 he worked for the publishing house Gutenbergshus, where he was responsible for the comic Donald Duck & Co.

During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany he was a controversial figure among the occupying Germans. His magazine was responsible for the comic 91 Stomperud, which had ran since 1937 with Gervin as the textwriter. In 1942 it was found that 91 Stomperudmocked the occupying forces, and Norsk Ukeblad was stopped for four weeks. He was later imprisoned with caricaturer Gunnar Bratlie for a caricature of Vidkun Quisling in Norsk Ukeblad in February 1943 (#8). The caricature portrayed Quisling as an unsteady ice skating boy, who was being helped to stand up by a man with a Hitler moustache. He was imprisoned in Grini concentration camp from 23 February to 24 May 1943.

In 1962 there was a mild controversy when the Donald Duck comic story Lost in the Andes! was translated and printed in Norway asEggemysteriet ("the Egg Mystery"). The translator Vivi Aagaard chose an archaic and slightly garbled version of the Norwegian language formNynorsk for the mountain-dwellers, and this was widely seen as an insult. Thus, through the Norwegian language struggle, the story got quite a lot of attention in Norwegian media.

Gervin died in January 1978 and was buried in Ullern.


  • 6 December 1908 – 27 January 1978

Prisoner~Johannes Andenæs

Johannes Bratt Andenæs, often shortened to Johs. Andenæs 

(7 September 1912 – 3 July 2003)

Was a Norwegian jurist. He was a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Oslo from 1945 to 1982, and served as rector from 1970 to 1972.

He was born in Innvik as a son of vicar Mads Olsen Andenæs (1855–1942) and Signe Theoline Mydland (1883–1958). He was a brother ofTønnes Andenæs. He finished his secondary education at Stabekk in 1929, enrolled at the Royal Frederick University and graduated from there with the cand.jur. degree in 1935. He worked as a deputy judge in Moss and Harstad before studying further, abroad. In June 1939 inHorten he married fellow jurist Ida Johanne Røren (1913–2008). He was hired as lecturer and research fellow at the University of Oslo in 1939, and took the dr.juris degree in 1943 with the thesis Straffbar unnlatelse.

He applied to become docent in 1940 and professor in 1942, at the University of Oslo, but his candidacy was rejected both times due to theGerman occupation of Norway. He had participated in battles against the Wehrmacht in the Norwegian Campaign, being lightly wounded near Skarnes. During the occupation, then, he marked himself as an oppositional person at the university. When the Nazi authorities were about to change the rules for admission to the university, in autumn 1943, a protest ensued. In retaliation, the authorities arrested 11 staff, 60 male students and 10 female students. 

The staff Carl Jacob ArnholmEiliv SkardJohan Christian SchreinerHarald Krabbe Schjelderup,Anatol HeintzOdd HasselRagnar FrischBjørn FøynEndre Berner and Johannes Andenæs were sent to Grini concentration camp. Andenæs was first incarcerated at Bredtveit from 15 October to 22 November, then at Berg until 8 December, then at Grini until 24 December 1944.

  • 7 September 1912 – 3 July 2003

Prisoner~Richard Andvord

Richard Andvord 

(6 March 1886–1965)

Was a Norwegian cavalry officer, diplomat and aide-de-camp for the Norwegian Royal Family.

Andvord was educated in commerce in Leipzig and Oxford. In 1911 he was employed as a cavalry officer, and between 1916 and 1927 he served as Norwegian military attaché in BernViennaHelsinki and London. From 1927 to 1930 he was an aide-de-camp of King Haakon VII of Norway. He held the titles of horse captain (rittmester) from 1930, and from 1949 kammerherre.

During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, Andvord was arrested in December 1944 in Hamar for "hostile behaviour" towards Germans. He was imprisoned in Grini concentration camp from 18 December 1944 to the liberation of Norway. In 1945 he was hired as director of the Royal Stables, and stayed in this position until 1960. 

He was succeeded by Erik Blankenborg Prydz. Curiously, the head of the Royal Stables had no responsibility for horses or equipages, but the motor vehicles owned by the Norwegian Royal Family as well as all car driving in connection with events at the Royal Palace. Andvord also acted as driver for foreign dignitaries, guiding them on their way toroyal audience. In 1958 the entire Court of the Norwegian Royal Family consisted of as few as seven people; Richard Andvord, Ingvald Smith-KiellandOdd Grønvold and Ellinor Grønvold, Else Werring, Ingeborg von Hanno and Vincent Bommen.

In 1959 Andvord was decorated as a Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, and he also held four royal medals and several foreign orders of knighthood. He died in January 1965, 79 years old. He was buried at Vår Frelsers gravlund in a family grave; other family members resting there include Sevald Theodor Richard Andvord (1839–1913) and Richard Andvord (1920–1997)

  • 6 March 1886–1965

Prisoner~Carl Jacob Arnholm

Carl Jacob Arnholm 

(18 December 1899 – 15 September 1976)

Was a Norwegian jurist.

He was born in Oslo as a son of civil servant Carsten Johannes Andersen (1865–1950) and Gunvor Henriksen (1866–1940). He finished his secondary education in Kristiania in 1917, and graduated with the cand.jur. degree in 1921. After one year as deputy judge he worked as a junior solicitor from 1923. From 1927 he was entitled to work with Supreme Court cases. In 1930 he was hired as research fellow at the Royal Frederick University, and took the dr.juris degree already in 1931, on the thesis Betingelsene for testamenters gyldighet efter norsk rett. He was then a professor from 1933 to 1968. He served as dean of the Faculty of Law from 1945 to 1951, and in the same period he was deputy chairman of the university collegium (board).

During the German occupation of Norway Arnholm had been imprisoned. When the Nazi authorities were about to change the rules for admission to the university in autumn 1943, a protest ensued. In retaliation, the authorities arrested 11 staff, 60 male students and 10 female students. The staff Johannes AndenæsEiliv SkardJohan Christian SchreinerHarald Krabbe SchjelderupAnatol HeintzOdd Hassel,Ragnar FrischBjørn FøynEndre Berner and Carl Jacob Arnholm were sent to Grini concentration camp. Arnholm was first incarcerated atBredtveit from 15 October to 22 November, then at Berg until 8 December, then at Grini until 5 May 1945. He became a Christian during his time as a prisoner.

Arnholm was also a "judicial advisor" in the association Norwegian Brewers from 1933 to 1968, and was an Acting Supreme Court Justice in several periods between 1935 and 1939. He was elected as a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in 1936, and heldhonorary degrees at Stockholm College (1957) and the University of Copenhagen (1959). He was appointed as a Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 1961, and a Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog and a Commander of the Order of the Polar Star. He did not marry, and died in September 1976 in Oslo.

  • 18 December 1899 – 15 September 1976

Prisoner~Reidar Aulie

Reidar Aulie 

(13 March 1904 – 23 November 1977)

was a Norwegian artist.

Reidar Aulie was born in Oslo, the son of Nils Baltazar Aulie (1867–1951) and Martha Valstad (1872–1966). He grew up in a middle class home in Oslo. Reider Aulie was the younger brother of Andreas Aulie (1897-1990), a lawyer who was the Norwegian attorney general (Norges riksadvokat) from 1946 until 1967. Aulie graduated in 1927 and traveled to Paris in the autumn with fellow student, Bjarne Ness, who died of tuberculosis just before Christmas that year, only 25 years old. His death made a strong impression on the younger Aulie who had shared lodgings with Ness. Aulie debut at the Autumn Exhibition (Høstutstillingen) in 1927. Aulie already had in the 1930s, illustrated books by such authors as Ingeborg Refling Hagen and Martin Andersen Nexø.

As a young progressive and intellectual artist, Aulie sided with the labor movement within the national political struggle. Auli paintings are full of symbolism. There is often rooms for several interpretations. Aulie was always concerned with the common man and portrayed him with great enthusiasm. In the 1930s he became an artist for the Socialist movement. In 1932 he participated in the Anti-War Conference in Amsterdam the same year and was chairman of the Anti-War Committee in Osloand the surrounding area. In 1936 Aulie built house and studio on Maridalsveien Street in Oslo, where he lived the rest of his life

He became best known for the art produced during the Second World War. Aulie had a significant production in the years 1940-45, during periods spent in hiding out on a small farm owned by his in-laws in Eidsberg. Auli main production year was 1943, when he painted the important war pictures of subjects that would not be tolerated German censorship. His notable work, entitled 9. april 1940, tells about the invasion which resulted in the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany. In the winter of 1945 he was sent to Grini concentration camp.

In 1950 he painted Arbeiderbevegelsens historie, a fresco of the labor movement's history, in Oslo City Hall. His last two decades were marked by the teaching duties, first as professor from 1958 and later as rector from 1965 at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts. In 1964, he received the Prince Eugen Medal, a Swedish medal awarded by the King of Sweden for outstanding artistic work.

In 1933 Reidar Aulie married Kari (Gunvor Katarina) Randem (1908–1994).


  • 13 March 1904 – 23 November 1977

Prisoner~Per Bang

Per Bang 

(29 November 1922 – 24 April 2010)

Was a Norwegian journalist. He worked in Dagens Næringsliv from 1946 to 2006, and became known for his column På nattbordet.

He was born in Oslo, and was a bookseller's apprentice when World War II broke out. In 1943 he was taken as a "hostage" by the Nazi German occupants of Norway, imprisoned at Bredtveit concentration camp from 27 February to 5 April and then at Grini concentration campto 20 December 1943.

After the war he considered finishing secondary education, but instead worked in the newspaper Jarlsberg from 1945 to 1947. In 1946 he was hired in Norges Handels og Sjøfartstidende, later named Dagens Næringsliv, where he worked until 2006, from 1956 to 1974 as Londoncorrespondent. He was formally a freelancer since 1989, and when retiring he was one of Norway's oldest active journalists. He became known for his column På nattbordet, though unsigned, where he enquired businesspeople and others on what books they were reading. On occasions, the result would be subtly embarrassing for the interview object. He also worked with the catalogue for the art exhibition Norske Bilder.

He issued several books, both fiction and non-fiction. His debut was the short story collection Dommedag for deg (1952), and he also released the novel Stedfortredere (1981). His non-fiction books were mostly from his period as London correspondent, including Den Norske Klub i London 75 år (1962), Er de gale? (1967) and Londonguide (with Anne-Marie Bang, 1970). He was a member of the Norwegian Authors' Union for some years, but backed out because he was more comfortable with the title "journalist". He received the Golden Pen award from the Riksmål Society in 1990.

Bang was active in Amnesty International and Nei til atomvåpen. He was a Roman Catholic, and was married twice. He died in April 2010.

  • 29 November 1922 – 24 April 2010


Erling Bauck 

(8 April 1924 – February 2004)

Was a Norwegian resistance member and writer. He was in German captivity from 1942 to 1945 under World War II, first in Norway, from 1944 in Auschwitz.

He was born in Mosjøen, but lived in Bærum. In Norway he was arrested on 30 April 1942 and incarcerated in Møllergata 19until 22 May 1943, then in Grini concentration camp until 29 July 1943. He was then transferred to Germany and was imprisoned inHegerwelde and Sachsenhausen until January 1944, then Majdanek and Lublin before being in Birkenau/Auschwitz from 29 July 1944 to 18 January 1945. He was then imprisoned in MauthausenMelk and Dachau before being liberated. By war's end, he and thousands of other prisoners forced to march westward in front of the Soviet thrust forward. He was rescued from Germany by the White Buses.


  • 8 April 1924 – February 2004

Prisoner~Carl Severin Bentzen

Carl Severin Bentzen 

(13 September 1882–1956)

Was a Norwegian tailor and politician for the Labour and Social Democratic Labour parties.

He was a son of tailor Wilhelm Julius Bentzen (1855–1911) and Sofie Nilson (1859–1936), and learned the trade from his father. He studied further in KristianiaCopenhagen and Berlin. He completed his Gesellenprüfung in 1904, and acquired burghership in Hønefoss in 1911. He had joined the labour movement in 1904, and was a member of the executive committee of Hønefoss city council from 1910 to 1922, serving as mayor from 1913 to 1915. From 1919 to 1921 he served one term in the Parliament of Norway, representing the urban constituencyKongsberg, Hønefoss og Notodden.[1]

Bentzen was a member of the Labour Party's national board from 1915 to 1918. He also represented his party in the Defence Commission of 1920. In 1921 he left the Labour Party, joined the Social Democratic Labour Party. He was a member of their national board from 1921 to 1927. The two parties then reunited. From 1923 to 1925 he was the burgomaster of Hønefoss. He was again a councilman from 1931 to 1941, and mayor briefly in 1946. During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany he was arrested and incarcerated in Grini concentration camp from 19 September to 28 November 1944, then in Akershus prison until the war's end.

He was also involved in the temperance movement. He died in 1956.

  • 13 September 1882–1956

Prisoner~Erling Bentzen

Erling Herolf Bentzen, sometimes given as Bentsen 

(8 January 1897 – 1962)

Was a Norwegian newspaper editor and politician for theLabour and Communist parties.

He was born in Kristiania, but moved to Sarpsborg. He joined Norges Socialdemokratiske Ungdomsforbund, by extension the Labour Party, in 1911, and sat as a county board member. He found work at Oslo Gassverk in 1915, and became a secretary of his local trade union.

In 1923 he broke away from the Labour Party, joining the new Communist Party. He was a delegate to the 7th Enlarged Plenum of theExecutive Committee of the Communist International in 1926. From 1926 to 1928 he was a member of the party's politburo, and from 1927 to 1928 regional party leader in Oslo and Akershus. In 1928 he undertook studies at the International Lenin School. In 1932 he again became a member of the Communist Party politburo, and from 1932 to 1934 he edited their main newspaper Arbeideren. In 1934 he was fired for not following the directions of the Comintern, the superior organ of the Communist Party of Norway.

He was later registered as a docks worker. During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, he was arrested by Gestapo on 13 September 1941 after the milk strike. He was sent to Grini concentration camp until 3 April 1942, when he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He remained here until the end of World War II. After the war he edited Nordlands Arbeiderblad from 1949 to 1952, and then worked as a journalist in Friheten. He died in 1962

  • 8 January 1897 – 1962

Prisoner~Lars Berg

Lars Kornelius Edvard Berg 

(16 May 1901 – 11 January 1969)

Was a Norwegian teacher, novelistshort story writer and playwright.

He was born at Kvaløya as the son of fisherman and farmer Emil Larsen Berg and Olufine Johansen, and grew up at a small farm. From 1947 he was married to Aud Norvåg. He died at Kvaløya in January 1969.

He graduated from the teacher's college in Tromsø in 1922, and worked as a teacher in Bø i Vesterålen from 1922 to 1923, Ørsta from 1923 to 1924 and Hillesøy from 1924 to 1934. He later worked as a headmaster in Tromsøysund from 1940 to 1967. He made his literary debut in 1934 with the novel Men det var det ingen som visste, and followed up with Du er den første kvinne in 1935. Berg was influenced by ideas from Freud's psychoanalysis. His candid treatment of sexuality-related problems in the first two novels led to strong reactions and initiated a spirited cultural debate in the late 1930s. His next two novels were Du skal svare (1936) and Fire søsken går ut (1937) In the late 1930s he also published a number of short stories in the periodical Arbeidermagasinet.

During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany Berg was a member of the resistance movement in Troms. He was arrested in 1942 and incarcerated at the Grini concentration camp. Among his post war novels are Kvinna og havet from 1950, Vi må ro i natt from 1951, andDen lange vegen from 1967. He was an advocate for theatre in Northern Norway for many years, and is given credit for the establishing of Hålogaland Teater (after his death). His first play was Maria, about a rehabilitation center for young girls off the straight path. The play was staged at Det Norske Teatret in April 1959, directed by Dagmar Myhrvold, with Elisabeth Bang as "Maria", the headmistress, and Liv Thorsenas the young girl "Tora". The play was also adapted into an audio play for Radioteatret. His play Petter Dass was later performed atHålogaland Teater. Berg was awarded Mads Wiel Nygaards Endowment in 1968 (shared with Kjell Heggelund).


  • 16 May 1901 – 11 January 1969

Prisoner~Henriette Bie Lorentzen

Henriette Bie Lorentzen 

(1911-2001), born Anna Henriette Wegner Haagaas,

Was a Norwegian humanist, peace activist, feminist, editor, one of the founders of the Nansen Academy, resistance member during World War II and survivor from the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

She earned the degree Magister in history of literature at the Royal Frederick University in 1937, and along with Andreas Wyller and Kristian Schjelderup, she founded the Nansen Academy the following year, where she was a lecturer and also in charge of most practical matters until 1940. She was also assistant editor (1938-1940) of the journal Fritt Ord, of which Schjelderup was editor.

During the Second World War, she became involved, along with her husband, in the Norwegian resistance movement. In 1943 she was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, even though she was pregnant, while her husband escaped to Sweden. She soon after gave birth to a daughter, who was taken from her. Thanks to an Austrian military doctor, the baby was given to her father and sister, instead of facing the prospect of being sent to Germany. As a Nacht und Nebel political prisoner, she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where she remained until the end of the war. After returning from the concentration camp, she believed women should have a central role in rebuilding the country, and founded the journal Kvinnen og tiden together with Kirsten Hansteen, the first Norwegian female member of cabinet, of which she served as editor and publisher for ten years. She was subsequently also active in Amnesty Norway, the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights and the anti-nuclear organisation Bestemødre mot atomvåpen in the 1980s and 1990s.

She was the daughter of a noted private-school owner and the great-granddaughter of industrialist Benjamin Wegner, as well as the first cousin of publisher Henrik Groth and noted freemason Bernhard Paus. She married into the Lorentzen family, a ship-owner's family fromHolmestrand, a branch of which is known for its relation to the royal family of Norway. Her branch used Bie Lorentzen as a double surname.

She received the Medal of St. Hallvard in 1995, for her educational work on women and peace.

  • 1911-2001

Prisoner~Ingrid Bjerkås

Ingrid Bjerkås 

(8 May 1901 – 30 November 1980)

Was the first female minister in the Church of Norway.

She was born in Kristiania as a daughter of Olaf Johansen (1874–1958) and Hilda Charlotte Elise Holmsen (1874–1953). She finished her secondary education in 1920, married Søren Alexius Bjerkås (1895–1965) in 1922 and became a housewife. They lived in Bærum. In 1941, during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, she wrote two letters to Vidkun Quisling, accusing him of treason and demanding his withdrawal from politics. Nazi physician Hans Eng hinted to her being a psychopath. In 1943 she sent a similar letter to Josef Terboven, protesting the crackdown on Norwegian students following the 1943 University of Oslo fire. She was arrested by the Nazis and was incarcerated in Grini concentration camp from 17 December 1943 to 31 January 1944, then at Bærum Hospital until 19 December 1944.

After the war she taught at a Sunday school for some years before enrolling at the University of Oslo. She graduated with the cand.theol. in 1958, and took the practical-theological examination in 1960. She was ordained by the Bishop of HamarKristian Schjelderup in Vang Church in March 1961. This act was the cause of strong protests from church faithful and church officials alike. Immediately after her ordination, six of the nine bishops of the Bishop Collegium refused accept her into the Holy Orders and stated that "we find it impossible to reconcile female ministry with the New Testament because of the attitude and direct statements. The Word denies women access to pastoral as well as teaching offices, and justifies this principle as God's creation scheme and the Lord's own will. So, we are bound by the word of God that the principles we are committed to must be followed". The other bishops agreed to the request.

Eventually, she was hired as vicar in the parish Berg og Torsken. Some still would not accept a female minister. She resigned in June 1965, one month after the death of her husband. She returned to Bærum, and was a priest at Martina Hansen's Hospital from 1966 to 1971. She issued the book Mitt kall ("My Calling") in 1966. She died in November 1980 in Bærum.

  • 8 May 1901 – 30 November 1980

Prisoner~Johnny Bode

Johnny Bode 

(6 January 1912 in FalköpingSweden – 25 July 1983 in MalmöSweden)

was aSwedish singercomposer and enfant terrible.

After his debut at seventeen years old, Bode recorded hundreds of songs on the gramophone, many of them his own compositions. One of his best-known songs is "En herre i frack" (A Gentleman in Tailcoat), which Gösta Ekman (senior) sang in 1936. The song later become popularized by famous Swedish singer Jan Malmsjö, who added it to his repertoire. The last gramophone record with Johnny Bode as a singer was recorded in 1942. The life of Johnny Bode is one of the most amazing in the history of Swedish music. Over and over again, when his career was demolished, he was able to rise and build a new career, only to ruin it himself shortly after.

For the most part, Bode lived far more extravagantly than he was able to afford. He was a well-known figure in show business in those days, and was liked in the pubs because of his generous style. Even the fact that he was often broke didn't stop him. He was a master of sneaking out the back door and letting others pay his debts. Another distinguishing characteristic of Bode was his unmatched mythomania. Over and over again he lied to others, a personality flaw that blackened his career. He became good friends with Gösta Ekman and was almost like a son to him, until the day Ekman discovered that Bode had tried to sell their silverware set to a pawnbroker. Bode skipped out on countless hotel bills, and was blacklisted by several of Stockholm's finest restaurants. He was also involved in the theft of expensive carpets, and embezzlement through false checks.

Bode's out-of-control lifestyle many times led him into crime. After many cases of fraud, he was declared incapable, and put into psychiatric care in the mental hospital of St. Sigfrid in VäxjöSweden. In connection with the diagnosis, he was sterilized.

Before World War II, Bode became fascinated by Nazism, which blacklisted him in Swedish show business for the rest of his life. Apparently, it was the combination of uniforms, marches, and pompous culture that enticed the childish Johnny. He was able to get permission from the mental hospital to travel to Finland, where he enlisted with the Nazis. However, the short, fat Bode soon became impossible and was sent home with an under-officer degree from the Nazi army.

No sooner was Bode back on Swedish soil than he started to ruin his career once again. By the time of his arrival 1942, resistance to Nazism was bigger than ever. When the famous Swedish actor Karl Gerhard played his strongly Nazi-critical cabaret "Tingel-Tangel" for the hundredth time, Bode showed up in his Nazi uniform, with his degrees on his shoulders and the Iron Cross highly visible on his chest. After that, he frequently wore the uniform on his occasional visits to Stockholm's nightclubs. As a result, the only friends he had ignored him, and he became blacklisted in the Swedish entertainment industry.

Shortly after that, Bode travelled to Norway, where he put up a cabaret for the Norwegian Quisling-regime. Bode promised gold and sunshine and lived a luxurious life in Oslo. Some of the songs he wrote during this period were seen in Sweden as critical of Sweden, especially the song "Har du hört vad Svensken sier" (NO: Have You Heard what the Swede's Saying?). This irritated the Swedish society and media even more. It was very hard for Bode to get in touch with actors who wanted to play in his cabaret, as nobody was willing to put their career at stake by appearing with Bode. Bode himself sang couplets and imitated Winston Churchill, to the great joy of Nazi sympathizers. After twenty-odd appearances, the show had to close due to lack of audience.

Once again, Bode was making himself unwelcome. He drank too much, was stealing and skipping out on bills again.Bode was even taken in by the Gestapo and was imprisoned in the Grini concentration camp from 22 December 1942 to 30 January 1943. He was labeled a suspicious person due to his own claims to be a spy for the Swedish government, but by then his mythomania was so widely known that nobody believed him, and he was finally sent back to Sweden.

Later career

In the late '60s and early '70s, Bode recorded several pornographic comedy albums, with titles such as Bordellmammans visor ("The Brothel Madam's Songs"), Bordellmammans dotter ("The Brothel Madam's Daughter") and Sex-revyn Stig på ("The Sex Revue Step Inside"). He also released a gay-themed single in Swedish and German, with the songs "Vi är inte som andra, vi" ("We, we're not like the others") and "Achilles klagan" ("The lamentations of Achilles").

  • 6 January 1912~25 July 1983

Prisoner~Kjell Bondevik

Kjell Bondevik 

(11 March 1901 – 21 December 1983)

Was a Norwegian politician for the Christian Democratic Party.

He was born in Leikanger. He graduated with the cand.philol. and (PhD equivalent) degrees in 1927. He worked as a teacher and headmaster in schools in OsloHaugesund and Sauda. He was a member of the executive committee of Sauda municipal council from 1945 to 1951, and chaired the local party chapter from 1939 to 1947 and the county chapter from 1939 to 1950. He also chaired local chapters ofNoregs Mållag as well as Christian organizations. During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, he was arrested in March 1942 for boycotting the Nazi creation, the Teachers Union, together with a large number of other teachers, including Gustav Natvig-Pedersen. He sat atGrini for one day, later at Jørstadmoen and Kirkenes, but was released.

He was elected to the Norwegian Parliament from Rogaland in 1950, and was re-elected on three occasions. From August to September 1963 he served as the Minister of Social Affairs during the short-lived centre-right cabinet Lyng. During this period, Knut Haus filled his seat in the Parliament. In 1965 he was again appointed to a cabinet post, this time as Minister of Church Affairs and Education in the cabinet Borten, which lasted until 1971.

When the cabinet Borten fell over a controversy related to the forthcoming EEC referendum, Bondevik was put in charge of tailoring a renewed centre-right coalition. However, the negotiations between the four parties failed, paving the way for a Labour cabinet Bratteli. In this context Bondevik described himself as djupt såra og vonbråten, "deeply hurt with broken hopes". This is a well-known quote in Norwegian history.

Bondevik also worked at the University of Oslo from 1958 to 1965 and the University of Bergen as a lecturer from 1965 to 1970. In 1982 he was given a honorary doctorate at the University of Tromsø, as the first person. He authored many books, mostly about history topics. Biographies about him were published in 1969 and 1981.

Kjell Bondevik is also known as the uncle of Kjell Magne Bondevik, later Prime Minister, and father of bishop Odd Bondevik.

  • 11 March 1901 – 21 December 1983)

Prisoner~Gunnar Bratlie

Gunnar Bratlie

 (8 October 1918 – 14 June 1990)

Was a Norwegian illustrator.

He was born in Fredrikstad, and worked in Oslo and Røros before returning to Fredrikstad in 1981. He is known for his book covers and illustrations, such as the complete works of Selma Lagerlöfand Alexandre Dumas, and the local historical work Fredrikstad bys historie. During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany he was imprisoned with editor of Norsk Ukeblad Ernst Ancher-Hanssen for a caricature of Vidkun Quisling in Norsk Ukeblad in February 1943 (#8). The caricature portrayed Quisling as an unsteady ice skating boy, who was being helped to stand up by a man with a Hitler moustache. Bratlie was imprisoned in Grini concentration camp from 19 February 1943 to 22 March 1945. He continued to draw while inside, and a collection of these drawings was published in 1945 under the title Skisser i smug, with a preface written by co-prisoner and professor Francis Bull. Bratlie kept his sketches hidden in a hollow leg of a table, and they were smuggled out of the camp from time to time. Several of his sketches were also published in the two-volume book Griniboken.

His main techniques were etching and serigraphy, but he also did paintings and acquarels. The first exhibition of his art was inKunstnerforbundet in 1968. In total he was exhibited about 30 times, as well as several collective exhibitions. His works have been bought by such institutions as the National Gallery of Norway, the Museo del'arte in Pistoia and the Accademia delle bell'arte in Catania.

From 1978 to 1985 he was granted the State Guarantee Income for Artists. He died in June 1990 and was buried in Glemmen

  • 8 October 1918 – 14 June 1990

Prisoner~Trygve Bratteli

Trygve Martin Bratteli 

 (11 January 1910 – 20 November 1984)

was a Norwegianpolitician from the Labour Party and Prime Minister of Norway in 1971–1972 and 1973–1976.

Bratteli was born in Nøtterøy, where he attended primary school. He was unemployed for some time, worked as a messenger, a whaler, and construction worker. Named as secretary of the Labour Party's crisis committee during the Nazi invasion of Norway, he was arrested by theGermans in 1942, was a Nacht und Nebel prisoner of various German concentration camps from 1943 to 1945 but survived. He was liberated from Vaihingen an der Enz concentration camp on 5 April 1945 by the White Buses along with 15 other Norwegians who had survived.

Political career

After returning to Norway in 1945, he became chairman of the Workers' Youth League, vice chairman of the party, served on the newly formed defense commission, and in 1965 he was made chairman of the Labour Party. He was elected to the Norwegian Parliament from Oslo in 1950, and was re-elected on seven occasions.

He was appointed Minister of Finance in Oscar Torp's cabinet, and from 1956 to 1960 in the third cabinet of Einar Gerhardsen. From 1960 to 1963, still during Gerhardsen's third period as Prime Minister, he was Minister of Transport and Communications. He was also acting Minister of Finance from January to February 1962. In September 1963, when Gerhardsen's fourth cabinet was formed, Bratteli was again made Minister of Transport and Communications, a post he held until 1964.

The centre-right cabinet of Borten held office from 1965 to 1971, but when it fell, Bratteli becamePrime Minister. Central to his political career was the question of Norway's membership of theEuropean Community. Following the close rejection of membership in the 1972 referendum, his cabinet resigned. However, the successor cabinet Korvald only lasted one year, and the second cabinet Bratteli was formed following the Norwegian parliamentary election, 1973. It was succeeded by another Labour cabinet Nordli in 1976.

Trygve Bratteli wrote a number of autobiographical and political books. His memoirs about his time in German concentration camps - Prisoner in Night and Fog - became a bestseller in Norway.

Trygve Bratteli was married to Randi Bratteli. Their children are Ola Bratteliprofessor ofmathematics, and Marianne Bratteli, an artist.

  • 11 January 1910 – 20 November 1984

Prisoner~Alex Brinchmann

Alexander Brinchmann 

(15 June 1888 – 18 April 1978)

Was a Norwegian children's physician and song writer, novelist, playwright and crime writer. He was a leader of the Norwegian Authors' Union from 1941 to 1945.

Brinchmann was born in Kristiania as the son of rector Jacob Ludvig Hoffmann Brinchmann and Henny Leth. He was married to Nina Grønvold from 1914 to 1924, to Johanne Ringberg from 1925, and to Gunvor Næss from 1944. He was the father of film producer and theatre director Arild Brinchmann.

Medical career

Brinchmann finished his secondary education in 1906. He then studied medicine, graduating as in 1912. From 1913 to 1914 he specialized in pediatrics in Berlin. He then worked at hospitals in Kristiania. He was authorized as a specialist in pediatrics in 1921, and became a in 1922. Among his medical writings were articles on children's tuberculosis, and later mental hygiene for children.

Literary career

Brinchmann made his literary debut in 1927 with the crime novel Mysteriet Steegener, published under the pseudonym "Roy Roberts". Among his other novels are Deilig er jorden from 1931 and Den rike mann from 1937. His comedy Karusell was staged at Nationaltheatret in 1940, directed by Gerda Ring, with Aase Bye and Per Aabel playing the main characters. Brinchmann chaired the Writers' Guild of Norway from 1938 to 1956. He chaired the Norwegian Authors' Union from 1941 to 1945, during World War II. He was a member of the Norwegian Resistance Movement's cultural council from 1943. He was arrested in January 1945 and held at Møllergata 19 and at the Grini concentration camp until 30 April 1945. He published the book Norske forfattere i krig og fred. Den Norske forfatterforening 1940–1968 in 1968, in cooperation with Sigurd Evensmo.

  • 15 June 1888 – 18 April 1978


Grini was originally a prison but became more and more like a concentration camp because of the constant development. The expansions and new barracks were necessary as the arrests grew in numbers. Grini was a mix of a concentration camp and a general prison. 

Several SS officers made sure strict discipline was maintained. Should one get sick, there was no point in seeing the SS, Dr. Rietz. He was described as 98 % nazi and 2% doctor. He was also a member of the German security services. (sicherheitsdients) 

All in all, a total of 19 788 prisoners were recorded at Grini. Most of these Norwegians. 86 prisoners of war died, most of these after being transferred to Germany.

At Grini, 9 persons were executed. 5 men and 3 woman. Other prisons, apart from Grini, was "Møllergata 19" in Oslo, "Arkivet (the archive) in Christianson. "Ulven" (the wolf) outside Bergen, later to be relieved by the "Espeland" camp.
"Sydspissen" (soutpoint) in Tromsø and "Krøkebærsletta" also in Tromsø. We had also a terrible camp outside Trondheim named "Falstad. Aside from these numerous prisons slave laborers had many camps in Norway, specially in the north, Bardufoss as an example.

At its peak almost 5000 were imprisoned at Grini. A total of 1470 perished in German concentration camps. About 40 000 saw the inside of German prisons and around 50 000 fled the country. None of these did however suffer the same fate as the Norwegian Jews. 610 lost their lives. 240 women and 370 men. Only 27 survived, none of them women or children. The 2.w.war costs Norway 10 262 lives, of these 883 were women.

The norwegians were arrested, and deported to Grini by the german fields gendarms

During the imprisonment, the convicts had to carry out different tasks. 
Some even of artistic nature.






Mrs. I. at home in Dartmouth, 12 years after her imprisonment by the NAZI's at Grini Concentration Camp, Oslo. (J.Isaksen archives)


Norwegian emigrant fishermen and fishermen's daughters gather for a picnic and sing at Fort Phoenix, Fairhaven. MA. circa 1960, courtesy Mery Vilhelmsen collection


The end of the Second World War in Norway and Oddvar S. proudly leads his Resistance troops in a grand parade. They had done sabateur work in Oslo and he was about to become a student in Boston and a fisherman in New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Solstaad archives)

Norwegian emigrant women entertain themselves in Fairhaven with their string band in the late thirties. They were to stay close throughout their lives.


Claes Berg



Claes Berg

Claes Berg Claes Berg and Arild had been friends since childhood. With a couple of other friends they organised one of the many groups that printed and distributed illegal newspapers in Oslo. One of these friends had a younger brother who, though only 16, had also become involved in some kind of resistance. He was too young to realise the importance of security and to understand the dangers involved. He shared a room with his elder brother and one night Gestapo officers stormed in as the brothers slept. The elder brother was certain that they had come for him but it was the 16 year old they arrested. After repeated interrogations and torture, the young man disclosed Claes’ identity. 


Immediately after the arrest, Claes, Arild and the others in the group went into hiding. They continued to print and distribute newspapers but avoided their previous haunts and took painstaking precautions before contacting their families. Claes’ mother hung a towel in the kitchen window if the coast was clear but one day the police were waiting anyhow and they overpowered him at the door of the apartment. He was allowed to go in to get some other clothes and under the pretext of giving his mother a kiss he whispered, “Ring Arild”. She did, giving Arild an opportunity to flee to Sweden.

Claes was taken first to the prison at Bredvedt, and then to Møllergaten 19, the feared Gestapo headquarters in Oslo. From the questions and treatment he received, Claes realised that they had no real evidence against him and, after a few weeks, thinking that Arild would, by now, be in Sweden, he ‘gave’ his interrogators Arild’s name. After this he was sent to the less onerous prison camp at Grini. He soon realised that he would probably be sent to Germany so he began to brush up on his German. The last thing he remembers from Grini is that the guards became more cheerful and amenable when they heard the erroneous news that Stalingrad had fallen to the Germans. Claes was sent to Sachsenhausen in 1943.The first leg of the journey, from Oslo to Stettin, was on the infamous prison ship ‘Donau’. We talked to Claes several times in 2006 and early in 2007.

Claes Berg opens the door to his Oslo apartment, looks at his watch, and says, “You are precise”. Punctuality is obviously important to him. It is two o’clock on a cold, snowy day in January. Claes continues to speak in English. I say that he can just as well speak Norwegian but no, he prefers English. He tells me that he has lived alone in this large apartment since his wife died many years ago. It is his childhood home. He came here when he was seven. The square in front of the apartment bears the name of his father, an architect who was Oslo’s first official “Cultural Heritage Manager.” Claes has been an active cross-country and slalom skier, and a competitive sailor for most of his life. He still takes long walks but admits to having slowed down somewhat lately He shows me a photograph and tells me proudly that his three children are just about perfect. This gives me the opportunity to ask him if his children know about his experiences during the war, “They know the broad picture but I never told them all the details, partly because they were already biased against Germany after the occupation of Norway and I didn’t want to add to their prejudices.”

As we sit down he opens a box and hands me what looks like two blocks of wood, held together by raffia through small holes on the left. ‘Claes’ and ‘9,X1.44’ – his birthday – are burned into the wood. Inside, on stiff cardboard, are birthday greetings, drawings, caricatures, and cartoons – all dedicated to Claes in tiny handwriting – a fitting memento. On one page, rather incongruously, a sketch of a well-worn boot with a birthday greeting fastened to a lace. The text underneath reads “GOOD LUCK FROM THOSE WHO “LÄUF” AND… On the following page the text continues, “…from those who are supposed to.” Above this text are the names of 8 Englishmen. Claes explains that within the camp, the Germans had constructed several paths which had surfaces of various materials.
Prisoners, including these Englishmen, were made to walk up and down these paths wearing different types of boots – to test of the boots’ quality. Claes continues, “It was a form of punishment, they walked and walked for hours at a time with little sustenance. They lived in another part of the camp but came to me to get extra food. The writing in the book made it clear that without the additional rations they would not have lasted very long but Claes admits that his efforts had been in vain, “these particular prisoners were executed by the Germans towards the end of the war.”

“There was also a Russian prisoner who was especially ill-treated even though the Germans didn’t know that his father was a high-ranking communist leader in Moscow. The father must have been important because when the camps were liberated, he managed to get his son sent straight to Moscow. All the other Russian prisoners were shipped off to Siberia. I gave him extra bread and he is still alive and well and living in Russia. I visited him after the war and he came to Norway. His biggest surprise here was that for the first 10 days he didn’t see a single policeman. Finally we had to seek one out in Bergen just to convince him that we really did have a police force in Norway.” 

I ask how he could give them extra food and he replies, “Well I was lucky. From an early date I got food parcels from Sweden. It was a complicated piece of luck. First my father had tried to send parcels from Norway but to no avail. I had an aunt in Stockholm. She tried to send parcels through regular channels but failed. However, she knew the owner of one of Sweden’s large industrial companies – a company that had contracts to deliver products to Germany. She approached the owner, a friend of hers, with the problem and he promised to help. Getting the Germans to accept ‘just small packages’, as part of the larger shipments of goods, was not easy but with a bit of bravado and hint of industrial blackmail, the friend prevailed.” 

Claes says that he would never forget the first parcel that arrived: “…a higher ranking officer than we normally saw around our huts came to me followed by an orderly carrying a package. I was told to open it and inside was heaven: chocolate, butter, cakes, ‘Lucky Strike’ cigarettes … I had to sign for each item and was told to write and thank the relative who had sent the package – typical German thoroughness.” Claes smiles and adds that from then on he got a parcel about every other month – and that the same routine was followed each time. 

In one letter home he had complained about the cold and in a parcel a few weeks later he found a Swedish military overcoat. The German officer and orderly, as usual, were in attendance and when they saw Claes in the overcoat they almost jumped to attention. “You are a Naval Admiral,” the officer exclaimed. Claes told them that he was far too young to be an admiral and that anyhow, he was a civilian. “But they didn’t seem to believe me and I’m convinced that from that day they treated me with a little more respect.” In the book, ‘Gestapo henter deg om natten’ (The Gestapo comes for you at night), the author tells how, one day, Claes managed to get out of his cell at Møllergaten 19 for a few hours. The alarm system had broken down in one of the cell blocks and the Germans had gone from cell to cell asking if anyone was an electrician. Claes was an engineer and not an electrician but he volunteered anyhow– and in fact, he fixed the problem. I suggested to Claes that maybe he had used the same technique to land his job in the motor repair workshop. “Well, not exactly, but my electrical skills came in very handy there.” he replied. 

The motor repair workshop, where vehicles of all types, from motorcycles to tanks, were brought in for repair, was one of the satellites to the main camp. One day a German guard brought in a radio that didn’t work and asked around if anyone could repair it. Claes said he would try – and if he succeeded the price would be an extra ration of bread. The guard accepted, Claes fixed the radio and got his extra bread. This was the start of a regular ‘business’. Since there were no German civilian or military technicians in the neighbourhood, the word soon spread that Claes was the ‘radio fixer’ – and there was no shortage of faulty radios. “Fixing radios was the source of the extra rations that I could give, for example, to the Englishmen. There were those in my hut who thought I should share the extra food with them but we were in much better shape than many others in the camp.” A side benefit of the ‘business’ was that Claes always had a radio hidden away so that he could keep abreast of the war news. 

At the workshop, damaged vehicles came in on numbered railway flatbeds. When the trains arrived, Claes and his crew were given a list of jobs to be done, each ‘job’ referring to a flatbed. On one occasion ‘the job’ was to repair something in a tank. He told his partner to climb aboard and try to get the engine started. Claes went into the turret where he found ammunition for the machine guns and the turret gun. The vehicle began to shake as the motor started up and they drove the half-track onto the ground. Claes remembers sitting in the turret with the guns and ammunition around him, and thinking that he could simply start moving and drive right out of the workshop, through the town into the countryside and away: “Nobody could have stopped me, there was no heavy artillery nearby, and small arms fire couldn’t penetrate the armour. The feeling of power was almost intoxicating – of course I did nothing – even in an armoured vehicle I couldn’t get far without food or money” he concluded. Radio repair was not the only activity in which Claes had to use a certain amount of bluff. The German in charge of the workshop, – not a very bright specimen according to Claes – had to write regular reports and, like many other Germans at that time, he could speak German better than he could write it. One day Claes saw a report that the supervisor was writing and he mentioned casually that it contained several mistakes. The supervisor asked to be shown the errors and corrected them without comment. The next week he asked Claes to read through the report he had just written and to correct any errors. “After a while I was writing the reports myself.” Claes smiles at the thought and adds, “Of course my German was really not all that good so I had to swot up on the grammar in the evenings.” 

As a result of his ‘teaching’ post, Claes was again able to get extra food and special favours from the supervisor, for both himself and his crew: The situation got even better when, one day while the supervisor was absent from the workshop for a couple of hours, the ‘big brass’ of the camp arrived for an unexpected inspection The supervisor had a bad habit of leaving his service revolver and belt on his desk during working hours. He had done so on this day and Claes knew that if the inspection team found the revolver, the supervisor would be in serious trouble. Claes finished the story: “So I went into his office and quickly put the belt and revolver in a drawer. Just as the inspection was ending the supervisor returned. He literally turned white when he saw the high-ranking officers and looked nervously into his office. When the officers had left the supervisor asked what had happened to his revolver. I took him into his office and opened the drawer. After that he practically lived in my pocket.”

Claes explains that the Norwegians and Danes in the camp were a special group of prisoners, mostly educated, professional, or training to be professionals; doctors, teachers, lawyers. They quickly became leaders, trusted by both guards and guarded. They were trusted to the extent of being sent to other satellite camps, he gave an example: “A group of us were once sent to do some repairs at a camp on the other side of Berlin.

There were no trucks or cars available so we had to use local trains and busses. We wore our normal prison outfits and so we stuck out like sore thumbs among the civilians. What amazed me was the way most of the locals looked at us, some of them even said: ‘How could you be so stupid as to work against Hitler?’ We were looking forward to working at the other camp because we heard there were some females there – but we should have known better – the females were German guards, we got no help, little food and had to live by our wits most of the time.” Another of Claes’ friends was put in charge of an aircraft factory. “He lived an entirely different life to the rest of us” said Claes. 

Just when I felt that Claes’ ‘wits’ had given him almost a ‘charmed’ life in this dreadful camp, his face clouds and he tells me about a couple of episode that were the stuff of nightmares: “I was one of the few who entered a gas chamber and lived to tell.” The prisoners who worked around the gas chambers, “Sonderkommandos” (Special Groups), usually Polish Jews, were themselves eliminated after a few months, either because they were too weak to continue or because the SS liquidated them – not wanting any survivors who knew about the ‘death camps.’ Again Claes was called upon to fix an electrical problem. The SS guard who accompanied him wouldn’t enter the gas chamber itself, but waited outside. Claes remembers: “The smell of gas hung in the air. The atmosphere was indescribable. It was dim, almost dark. I fixed the problem and got out as quickly as possible. Only when I got back to my hut did I realise that I might be in danger because of the SS ‘no survivor’ policy.” 

“The second episode was just before liberation, when morale was low and sickness and death due to ill-treatment and malnutrition were at their highest. Each morning a special group of prisoners went around the barracks searching for and removing the bodies of those who had died in the night. I had a friend who, though not seriously ill, had difficulty in getting up and walking around. He lived in another hut and I went there one morning to see how he was but found that he had been taken away by the ‘body collectors’. ‘He wasn’t dead,’ one of the roommates said, ‘but the collectors insisted that he wouldn’t last another day.’ I rushed to the building where the bodies were placed after collection and found rows upon rows of corpses, eight to ten high. In one of the piles I saw my friend – his eyes were flickering and fingers moving”. Claes pointed this out to the guard and asked if he could remove the live body. But no, the bodies had been counted and if one was taken out it must be replaced – or the numbers wouldn’t add up. Finding a replacement body in a death camp was not difficult – and the switch was made. 

The next day Claes’ friend was on his way back home thanks to Folke Bernadotte’s ‘White Buses.’ Claes himself followed soon afterwards and he tells of one final incident: “We had to change out of our prison garb and we were given strict orders not to take these with us. I was on a bus that stopped on the way to the exit and almost without thinking I got out, ducked into a hut, found a prison suit, and stuck it under my jacket. Claes was one of 2500 Norwegians in the camp when the buses arrived. He says, “Count Bernadotte was not thanked enough for his contribution to the release of Scandinavian prisoners.” Claes repeated this several times at a later meeting and related how Bernadotte had worked so hard and finally managed to persuade Himmler to allow the repatriation. 

After some months of convalescence Claes began to take up the threads of his life again. His brother Knut, an art historian, had been sent to Germany to trace articles stolen by the Germans during the occupation. Most of the items were in the ‘Art ‘category but the list also included an entire factory! Knut could handle the art but had no technical knowledge and as Norway couldn’t afford to send an engineer, he suggested that, provided the government would pay for the transport, Claes would come and work for nothing: “A welcome break and a soft re-entry to civilian life.” as Claes put it. Yes, they found the factory. 

The war had interrupted Claes’ education but he soon caught up and enrolled at Grenoble University to study engineering. “In later years my wife didn’t like me saying this,” he said, “but the years in Grenoble were the best years of my life.” After 4 years he came away from Grenoble with a lifelong passion for everything French; the food, the language, the people, and the country. Back in Norway he started working for a small engineering-import business that entailed much travelling. On his travels he found that many of the top managers in business had been either imprisoned or active in the resistance movement. The same was true of many government officials and politicians: the post-war Prime Ministers Einar Gerhardsen and Trygve Bratteli (who had lain in the bunk above Claes at one time) had both been incarcerated in Sachsenhausen. I suggested that perhaps their experiences and sufferings had hardened and strengthened them and that Norway had rewarded them with its trust – in politics and in business. He agreed to a certain extent but reminded me that there had been 20,000 members of Quisling’s National Socialist party during the war and that countless numbers of Norwegians profited from the war. In a strong voice he says, “We must never forget what happened. Next month I am going to a local school to tell a class of fifteen year olds about my experiences before they go on a guided tour to some of the concentration camps in Poland and Germany. I have done this before and I must admit that the students listened attentively. One of the teachers said afterwards that she had never before had pupils who listened so intensely and silently.” 

Claes was obviously tired by now so I said we should take a break. He said that I hadn’t asked many questions but I explained that, like the pupils, all I had to do was listen intensely and silently. 

From Claes Berg’s Birthday Book 

Claes Berg – Epilogue 

In December 2006 I visited Claes to return some photographs. His youngest son, one of his grandchildren and his brother were there. The adults had just started watching a film about the artists’ colony at Holmsbu, a small community on the coast about 60 kilometers from Oslo. I stayed to watch – the main character in the colony, Henrik Sørensen had played his part in the Resistance movement – and I had recently met his son at the Art Gallery in Holmsbu. Claes was not feeling too good that day but was obviously happy to have some of his family close by. They were going for a short walk before leaving for a family dinner at Claes’s daughter Jannike.

At the end of January 2007 I telephoned Claes and told him that we would be leaving for a month in Florida the next day. We agreed to meet again for another chat on our return.

On Feb 2nd came an e-mail from Oslo with the sad news that Claes Berg had died. He had fought hard to hold onto life but I’m sure he did not fear death. Perhaps he had seen too much of it in those terrible years of his youth. His best friend, Arild, once told me that Claes was completely fearless: swishing down a steep slope on skis, making a tricky tack in a regatta, reaching a tough business decision. He remained so to the end.
I had written to Jannike before leaving for Florida, asking some questions about her father. What follows is mostly based on her comments – about things that Claes mentioned only superficially during our several meetings.Arno Berg, a young architect, came to Norway from Sweden to study the ancient buildings at the Norwegian Folk Museum. Like many men before (and after) him, he found more than timbers and joints to interest him in Norway: he met his future wife and decided to settle in Oslo. This was an auspicious decision. Arno Berg became a significant figure in Oslo’s cultural life and in 1927 he was appointed director of ‘Selskabet for Oslo Byes Vel’ (The Company for the Preservation of Oslo). In 1956, when the City Council decided to establish the position of City Heritage Director, it seemed natural to choose Arno Berg to fill the post.

The Berg family, now including two boys Claes and Knut, was intimately connected with the artistic and cultural life in Oslo. Summer holidays were often spent at Holmsbu where the cultural life continued. The painter Oluf Wold Torne had ‘discovered’ Holmsbu in 1911 and many other artists and writers were attracted there by the tranquil fjord, the rounded, red, rocks and the sparkling light. By the time Henrik Sørensen bought a house there in 1929 Holmsbu had become one of the more important artists’ colonies in Scandinavia.

This was an inspiring atmosphere for the Berg family. Among Claes’ papers I found a newspaper cutting showing a group of boys at Holmsbu: Claes, Sven Oluf - Henrik Sørensen’s son – and 4 others, standing proudly around a model moon rocket. An inspiring atmosphere indeed – Sven Oluf became an Atomic Energy professor – was he the ‘brain’ behind the rocket? 
The impression was an almost bohemian existence. Jannike wrote: “Making money was not on my grand-parents agenda as opposed to Claes’ goal in life.” After Graduating in Electrical Engineering from the University of Grenoble in 1949 Claes went to Africa to work for a Belgian engineering company involved in construction work. He spent a couple of years there and then 18 months in Morocco before working in the Belgian Congo where he was involved in building houses. On the way home he flew across Africa, visited Egypt to see the Pyramids and Greece to see the Acropolis.

Claes never mentioned any of this to us when we were talking freely at home but, as Jannike says: “When we were young, he actually talked more about his experiences in Africa than Sachsenhausen!” We had heard from Arild that Claes had enjoyed his experiences in Africa and Jannike confirmed that – “he had a good time in Africa during the French and Belgian colonial times.” After working for an uncle who had a company representing a large Luxembourg concern, Claes started his own company in the early fifties. He became the Norwegian representative for Turtle Wax – a name that was synonymous with car polish in the 50’s and 60’s – and probably still is. (Yesterday, driving to Oslo from Asker, a shining, strikingly coloured car pulled out in front of us from a gas station – emblazoned over the whole body – Turtle Wax!). Claes also introduced Telma Brakes to Norway. This was a supplementary brake system for large trucks and busses that Claes had to both sell and install. 

Probably because of his connections with the Luxembourg concern Claes was the Consul-General for Luxembourg from 1977 to 1997 and as a Francophile it was natural for him to establish a branch of his company in Paris. One of his successes there was importing motor saws for the lumber industry. After a few years the commuting between Oslo and Paris became too much and he sold the French company. The man who bought it remains a good friend – he had telephoned to Claes just a couple of days before I talked to him in January. The Norwegian company continues to thrive in the hands of Claes’ son Arno. Claes retired many years ago but he had an office in the company, made regular visits there until the summer of 2006 and attended the Christmas party in December. 

I had asked Jannike if there were any special highlights in Claes’ business or private life and here’s what she wrote: 

“Any highlights? On the negative side it was our mother’s illness. She married Claes young, had three children and discovered that she was manic depressive. This influenced their life tremendously but Claes was supportive until she died 30 years later. On the positive side, I think his highlights have been his three children and seeing us succeed in life, his own business and material success, which have given him the opportunity to travel, ski, sail, have a house in France etc. There are also his life-long friends, among them Arild, whom he met when they started first grade in 1928 at Uranienborg school. They are still very close, so their friendship reaches back almost 80 years. Claes has a big and very close-knit family and I feel that is one of his proudest contributions. He keeps referring to this and I think it is very important for him to know now, when his life is coming to an end, that he is leaving behind a big and happy family – the Berg Circus, as a French friend from University called it in the early 1950’s. The family atmosphere is still the same: Claes and his brother Knut, Knut’s wife Marcia, their six kids, in-laws and grandchildren.” 

I also asked how Claes had been at home, thinking that, after his wartime experiences, with a wife who was ill, and a demanding job, raising a family may have been difficult for him. Not at all: 

“How Claes was at home? He was a very good father for us, always interested in what we were doing, taking us out skiing, sailing and travelling. We went with him to ski in France and spent the summers in Spain. He was a globetrotter, fluent in several languages, very outgoing, curious and always active, much ahead of his time. Our friends became his friends. He has always encouraged us and supported us in sports, school and to get a good education and use our talents. He has always been very liberal.” 

No wonder that one of the first things Claes had shown me was a photograph – “These are my children” he said, “They are just about perfect.”

Prison Regulations - Grini 





Odd Westeng

Odd Westeng was a member of the Norwegian Resistance. His role was to guide various people, usually those wanted by the Gestapo, to the Swedish Border. Before his death in 1989, Odd and his friend Brede wrote a detailed memoir, 'Secret Path to Freedom', recounting some of their experiences. The Secret in the Forests

It was dawn in early May 1942. Through my cell window I was probably one of the last to see them alive. They were eleven friends, huddled together in the cold morning mist at the Grini gate. They stood there surrounded by a troop of German SS ready to shoot at the slightest movement, whilst waiting for the Chief of the Gestapo to take charge. He came through the control post gesticulating and shouting, using a leather whip on the prisoners, driving them into the waiting truck bound for Gardemoen and execution, 30 miles away.

That evening in the prison we knew for certain that they had been executed, and the sinister minds of our ruthless enemies had made them dig their own graves. Theirs was a sad story; attempting to escape, spied upon and reported by an informer and captured at sea in a fishing boat bound for England, they were shot after spending two months at the concentration camp at Grini.

This execution was partly in reprisal for a joint British / Norwegian Commando raid on the West coast of Norway in which two senior Gestapo officers were killed.

This was Norway in 1942, occupied by Hitler's Germany, stricken by war, terror and the Gestapo. (We were) people struggling for survival and freedom with thousands of patriots captured, tortured and killed, and thousands more fleeing their homes across mountains and valleys, forests and rivers to escape to neutral Sweden to find a boat, however small, to take them across to England.

So it happened that with my good friend Brede, we became directly involved in helping people to escape by taking them to the frontier and across to the coveted freedom from fear and torture that was Sweden in those desperate days of Norwegian history.

The Resistance was making great strides in opposing the Nazi forces and a secret army was being built to assist the Allied forces once they landed on Norwegian soil. The Germans knew that military supplies of all kinds were coming in by sea, by land and by air, and they felt threatened, despite their 200,000 troops. The Gestapo, in turn, was brought to a pitch of alertness and action to stamp out this new enemy - an army that could not be seen, yet bridges of strategic importance were being blown up, goods trains de-railed and ships in the harbour destroyed or sunk with limpet (mines) dropped by parachute to the secret forces deep in the forests.

The 'Germanske / Norse' armband worn by Odd.

It was the task of the Gestapo to destroy this enemy, and in the process they revealed new levels of torture. Therefore new solutions had to be found by the Resistance, because it was quite clear that those who had been arrested could not withstand the mental and physical pressures for more than a few hours before revealing perhaps the name of a person or a location which could endanger the entire large part of the section involved. It was imperative that the next link in the chain likely to be arrested should be warned and brought to a 'safe place'. These 'safe places' were empty or occupied apartments made available by patriots whose activities, if possible, were confined to making this service available. A certain section (Export) then took over the responsibility of finding ways and means of getting these people in and out of the country, either to Sweden or to England.

It was a hazardous task. A network of escape routes along the border was set up to cater for the anticipated flow of refugees. This work was mainly carried out by local members of the Resistance who knew intimately the pitfalls; the checkpoints and danger areas where the Gestapo was most active. There were many casualties - people were arrested, shot or sent to concentration camps never to return but the majority reached their destination. This was a remarkable achievement against very heavy odds, where the enemy controlled all means of transport by land, sea and air, with the Norwegians limited to using their feet and their bicycles. Flexibility of mind as opposed to the German rigidity and ingrained discipline probably played a large part in making it possible.

From Vestmarka and Ljoner in the centre to the prohibited border area, Brede and I also had a difficult task to perform. Hailing from Oslo, we were complete strangers to the district, and needed first and foremost a very good knowledge of main and secondary roads, farm roads, paths and terrain generally; the local people and their political attitudes, and the all-important pattern of control and road blocks as normally followed by the Border Police and the Gestapo.

Once this was achieved and firmly imprinted on our minds, we took to the wilderness and the deep forests of fir and pine. We spent about a week linking together trails in the forest which in the end became our route to the Swedish border. It began north of the Lake of Havsjoen and ended slightly south of the Lake of Tannsjoen. The total distance was some 12 miles and based on our many 'test runs' both by day and by night, we estimated that the journey would take a minimum of five hours in daylight and seven hours in the dark, always depending on weather conditions and the number of refugees.

The trail went through hilly country, then forest being interspersed with lakes and rivers, but also crossing some forest clearing and moors - dangerous perhaps, but unfortunately necessary. We also had to cross the main road from Vestmarka to Setskog, frequently used by the German forces, and calling for a very careful approach combined with a speedy crossing, two people at a time, as and when the road was clear.

The fact that Brede and I had taken jobs as lumberjacks was the perfect cover and enabled us to obtain the special 'Border District Pass'. This gave us the advantage of being able to move freely anywhere in the border zone of Vestmarka. We even made a call at the border Police Station at Belfoss to Bjorkelangen from Ljoner! In the course of the conversation they became quite friendly and we were advised to keep away from Mangen road because, they said, illegal traffic was not uncommon there. We gratefully thanked them for their help and asked them to drop in and see us if they came our way.

To reach Vestmarka we had caught the train from Oslo to Kongsvinger, a garrison town normally occupied by Norwegian recruits but now dominated by the German forces including the Gestapo. Before we were alowed to leave the train we were bodychecked, our luggage pulled apart, and our papers scrutinized. Even then we were held until they had obtained confirmation from Ljoner that we were due to begin our work there as lumberjacks.

We set off for Ljoner which we reached by late afternoon, met the forestry people, signed up and got all the necessary details together with the key to the log cabin. We had four miles to cover on a rough timber track which was almost too bad for heavily loaded bicycles, and it was dusk by the time we reached the proximity of the cabin. We stopped on the crest of a hill, and looking through the pines we saw the silvery glitter of a little lake and on the other side was the cabin, the weather beaten logs blending naturally with the surrounding countryside.

"For our purposes, what a place!" exclaimed Brede, and it really seemed to have all the features needed for maximum security as well as a pleasant 'home'. Just as we were mounting our bikes, a family of ducks crossed the road disappearing into the grass towards a little brook winding its way to the lake. They too were seeking shelter.

We named our home 'Lingen' and on close scrutiny we found the position ideal for security. To the west and the north we had the clearing and a marsh with a view of the road from Ljoner and the path leading to 'Lingen'; to the south of the lake, and to the east, the perfect getaway - the forest just 25 yards away.

Inside was a bit sparse perhaps, being split in two - one end consisting of a large room with bunks, a table, benches and stove in the centre for heating and cooking; at the other end a stable for three horses. However, this being our second year on assignment as 'lumberjacks', we were used to living under all sorts of conditions. For me it was my third year in the rough including a spell as a prisoner in Grini Concentration Camp where some of us tried to beat the pigs to their troughs; where we listened into the stillness of night and suddenly heard heartbreaking screams coming from the interrogation chamber.

Here we could use our freedom against the enemy, and help all those who needed our help to find that freedom.

We were excited about our new pocket-sized radios with earphones, and having the freedom of listening to the BBC saying, "This is London calling", and feeling part of the cause to eradicate the ugly scar of Nazism off the Earth. Of course in Norway, the Gestapo had confiscated all private radios soon after their arrival in 1940, and Goebbels had been given the task of making the country a pro Nazi state.

To be in possession of a radio was considered a serious crime and anybody caught (with one) would be sent to a concentration camp. Brede and I agreed therefore, that we would keep 'Lingen' clear of illegal items. To that end we built a little hideaway in the forest some five minutes walk away which we called 'Anton'. This is where we kept our radio equipment, weapons, ammunition, frontier maps, codes, etc, etc. it was a bit hard sometimes after 12 hours of walking with refugees not to go for the bunk rather than 'Anton', but until such time that we were actually under suspicion by the Gestapo, that was the way it had to be.

I sometimes sat at 'Anton', completely hidden from sight, checking our weapons and studying maps, or perhaps waiting for the BBC to came on air, and my thoughts would inevitably turn to some of the people we had taken across the frontier. I had particularly kind thoughts for two British agents who had just completed their mission on the west coast of Norway. They had originally come by sea, but something had gone wrong for the return journey, hence their going home via Sweden with the help of the Resistance. We had a fast and uneventful trip, and we ended having a smoke together and a friendly chat on the actual border. As they were saying goodbye, they said, "Well, you might as well have these. We shan't need them in neutral Sweden," and they handed us two Smith and Wesson .38 pistols and four Mills hand grenades. We thought of them often, Brede and I, and admired their cool and phlegmatic approach during our five hour walk together.

In the solitude among the trees at 'Anton', I learnt to understand and respect nature's challenge to man and it naturally followed that I felt in close harmony with the vast forest around us. I looked upon the trees as our best friends, always offering shelter and protection, helping us in our search for safety. Even the birds in the trees gave us help, giving us warning signals of any oncoming enemy. We walked in unison with life in the forest, gently, quietly, not even a twig was trodden on. We took pride that the stillness of nature was not disturbed.

I remember a woman coming over to me on the route to the border saying, "Please tell me how to walk like that. You don't even step on a twig and I keep breaking them all the time and yet I try and I try." She was also a friend of the forest, but she was more than that. She was a courageous woman, lonely with her husband a prisoner in Belsen concentration camp in Germany and her two sons flying with the RAF in England. "My house was so miserably empty," she said, "that I offered it to the Resistance as a 'safe place'. In due course it was discovered by the Gestapo, but by the time they came to make the arrests we had gone and the house was empty."

So many people, so many faces of courage, of despair, of sadness and of determination; the will to survive driving them forward through the woods, across the valleys; miles and miles of uncertainty and danger, hour after hour. They walked with a natural pride as if that was the day of hope, that by the evening their long years under enemy occupation would be ended. They were Norwegians, but also other nationalities, joining hands helping each other as a friend to a friend in adversity.


t was a glorious day in mid-October. The sun was shining up, and I had taken to my favourite pastime at Lingen, chopping wood and attending to the peaceful, but less important details of our everyday life in the forest of Ljoner.

Being alone for a change, with the stillness of nature in complete command, the deepest thoughts came to the surface as if they wanted to speak to me and remind me of old friends from peacetime and also of all those whose friendship meant so much in the vicious world of the Nazi concentration camp at Grini. When I was arrested in February 1942, Grini was a small prison camp and the numbers of prisoners had hardly exceeded 2000 in all. Subsequently it went up into many thousands, I believe by the end of the war some 25,000 prisoners had passed through the gates of Grini.

I remembered the Norwegian Jews who had to wear the yellow star for identification. The Gestapo selected work for the Jews that was purposely designed to humiliate and destroy the spirit of those people. When I met my friend Herman, with whom I had played soccer since my schooldays, I found him filling two buckets brimful of water down in the basement of the main prison building. He then had to run with the full buckets up to the fifth floor where he emptied the buckets, run down again to the basement, fill the buckets and once again run to the fifth floor and empty the buckets - up and down - up and down - fill and empty - fill and empty - all day and every day for ten hours. When I first saw him I called, "Herman, what are you doing?" he answered, "Can't stop. Can't stop. Can't talk to you." It was distressing to see a friend in such torment. He and the other Jews were shipped out to Germany the following week and placed in a concentration camp there. They never came back - not one of them.

For a short period I was assigned to an indoor job, washing the floors of the corridors in the German section, and also the floors in the hospital. There I met a man who had been in the hospital for nine months and was still unable to walk around his bed because of the injuries inflicted upon him by the Gestapo during interrogation. They had broken just about every bone in his body, but not his spirit. He had held firm and at 67 he was accepted by all his fellow prisoners as the symbol of fortitude and courage, and they continually found new ways of helping him to recover.

I was pulled away from my thoughts of Grini when I heard Brede return. "Hey," he said as he came through the door, "the job is on for tomorrow. The message came through just before I left - seventeen people all told including six foreigners, four of whom are Russian POWs."

(The next morning) we left Lingen about 10 o'clock and arrived at our rendez-vous with ten minutes to spare; a good thing too because we hardly reached the knoll before we saw a long column of 17 people coming up the path.

We identified the Russians by their clothing - a mixture of Norwegian garments and remnants of Russian military coats. On their feet they had tied strips of military coat in a woven pattern and they also carried some strange looking weapons with them. They seemed alert and keen and moved with energetic strides even though they had been on the run from the German POW camp for about three weeks.

The leader of the column had already started on his return journey when we decided to descend the knoll. Within minutes we were surrounded by four Russians, full of smiles, and handshakes. They spoke to us in broken German, but after a while we understood each other perfectly well. They were full of praise for all the help they had been given along the route and they said they knew that Norwegians would be executed if they were caught helping Russians to escape.

The Norwegians had hardly slept for three days and one had a twisted ankle which was very painful and they were worried about slowing down the column.

As Brede and I were leaving the cabin, two young men aged about 20, got up and followed us outside. They spoke to us in English and explained that they were Polish students from Warsaw. They wanted to know how long the journey would take and smiled happily when we told them they would be in Sweden within seven hours. They had escaped from Warsaw five months earlier when they had heard on their way home from school that their homes had been raided and their parents taken away. They had taken a train to Gdansk planning to stow away on a ship bound for Sweden, but they were arrested leaving the train. Eventually they were sent to Norway with ten other students as slave labour.

They escaped on a goods train and reached a town called Elverum, where they got a taxi and simply asked for help. Luck was with them because the taxi driver happened to be a member of the Resistance and he did indeed organise their escape to Sweden. What they didn't know was that Elverum was a garrison town for the Nazis and 5,000 troops were stationed there!

Returning to the cabin we were astonished to meet four stark naked Russians in the doorway heading for the little lake 100 yards away. The lake was still covered with a thin layer of ice after the frost the previous night.

Shortly after one o'clock we got ready to leave. I was very pleased to see that the Norwegians had recovered well but the man with the damaged ankle could not walk and thought he would have to stay behind. Everything went quiet in the cabin and I called out, "Does anybody know how to make a stretcher?" one of the Russians came over and simply said, "We will make one. This used to be our work on the Leningrad front. We carried a lot of wounded comrades this way and we would like to carry him also."

Brede joined the Russians with his axe and they found a young rowan, pliable and strong enough to take the weight. The stretcher was made and the patient put on it.

At long last the column was ready with Brede up front. We changed our route to minimise the problem of carrying the stretcher and the journey began.

We passed the eight mile mark before Brede gave us a danger signal and within seconds the column had merged with the undergrowth of the forest. We soon heard the reason for the alarm; it was a slow truck climbing the hills from Ljoner, burning charcoal and coming our way for a load of lumber. The danger soon passed and we continued, the smell of charcoal a reminder that danger could come when least expected - Brede and I had not seen a truck on this road for at least three months!

We bypassed Ljoner and joined the derelict road for another mile. Just to make certain I slowed down to check on the stretcher and was pleased to find the Russians in good spirits and seemingly unaffected by the arduous job. I resumed my scout position just as we were reaching the point of crossing the main road. Once again we had to take cover from trucks, but this time vehicles of a much more sinister nature. There were four German military transports full of soldiers! Soon they were gone and Brede and I felt gratified that our scout signal system seemed to keep us safe from such dangers.

We passed Rudsvika after a careful survey, this being the spot on the route most frequently used by the Border Police for interception of refugees. It was all clear. The last 200 yards were quickly covered, and there it was, the coveted strip of land which for so many had meant the gateway to freedom from the Nazis. The Russians handed over the stretcher to the Norwegians, we said farewell and they parted with grateful smiles and handshakes.

Turning around we saw the Russians sitting down on the actual frontier and Brede and I went over and joined them. Then one of them said: "We would like to do the things you do - helping other people to escape. Can you let us come with you and work with you? We would like to do that because we don't want to go home".

As a soldier during the war, winter 1944/45. I am the one to the left and the others two friends of mine.

"Why not?" I said.

" It's difficult to explain. There is a Russian Commissar in Sweden and we think that we will be sent to Siberia because we were taken prisoner."

" You can't mean that."

" Yes," came the answer, "Sometimes that's the way it is."

" Well, we could most certainly do with your help, but unfortunately we live in a community where everybody knows us, and we would have no chance of keeping you hidden."

" We hoped, but we understand," they said. Then they brightened up, smiles came over their faces and they said: "These are presents for both of you," and they gave us two beautiful carved cigarette boxes.

"For you to remember us by as friends - friends forever." Then they came across and gave us Russian bear hugs before disappearing down the path into Sweden.

In Oslo, May 1945, at the Parade Ground of Akershus Castle, we practised the Victory Parade with the other Allied Forces. A Russian Company passed us close by, singing beautifully, and there we saw our Russian friends and we smiled and waved and smiled and waved, but no. There was no recognition. "Friends forever," they said to us on the border. Could anything have changed that?

The Destruction of the Norwegian Jews


Jewish Synagogue in OsloBetween the end of the 13th century and 1814 Norway was ruled by Denmark. In 1814 the European great powers decided that Norway should enter a personal union with Sweden under the Swedish King, thereby delaying its independence until 1905. But in 1814 a wave of patriotism swept the country.


n 1814, Norway acquired its first constitution. This document was relatively liberal, but it stated that the official state religion was Lutheran Protestantism and that Jews and Jesuits were forbidden from entering the kingdom.

Of the numerous constitutional drafts drawn up before the constituent assembly, only a couple prohibited Jews from entering the country, however it was the version put forth by cleric Nicolai Wergeland that was the most virulently  anti-Semitic, in his draft he wrote the following clause:  "No person of the Jewish creed may enter Norway, far less settle down there".

The debate on the so-called "Jewish clause" was long and heated, however  ban on Jews entering Norway was passed and was not to be lifted until 1851 after which time the Jewish population grew slowly until the early 20th century, when pogroms in Russia and the Baltic states increased the number of immigrants.


An further increase in Jewish immigration  came in the 1930s, as Jews fled Nazi persecution in Germany and areas under German control. By 1941-1942 the Jewish population of Norway numbered roughly 1,000 households and approximately 2,200 individuals.

1918 copy of Nationen

The Jewish minority was primarily involved in the business sector. Norwegian Jews owned about 400 enterprises. About 40 were professionals , the remainder craftsmen and artists. Few Jews were employed in the public sector or as farmers or fishermen.

There were two main communities, in Oslo and Trondheim. In both cities the Jewish population enjoyed a lively cultural life, and the Jewish communities operated numerous religious institutions and cultural organizations that ran various educational and welfare programs.

Though the Jewish minority was small and widely dispersed, several anti-Semitic stereotypes took hold in popular literature in the early 20th century. In such books by the widely read authors Rudolf Muus and Øvre Richter Frich, Jews are described as obsessed with money and sadistic. In 1920, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was published in Norway under the title "The New World Emperor".

Norwegian attorney Eivind Saxlund published a pamphlet "Jøder og Gojim" ("Jews and Goyim") in 1910, which was characterized as "anti-Semitic slander" by many in the media. This characterization led Saxlund to sue for libel in 1922, (he lost the case),  but earned him the admiration of the newspaper  The Nationen, which praised Saxlund for fighting "our race war." 

Anti-Semitic graffiti on a Jewish Shop

The country's immigration policy shifted following World War I to a far more restrictive line, and Jews were particularly singled out. The ministries of justice and foreign affairs were often at odds on the issue of Jewish immigration, but in practice the policy made it difficult for Jews to immigrate or settle in Norway.

Restrictions were justified on an economic basis, Jews would either create destructive competition for Norwegian merchants and tradesmen, or freeload on public assistance.  Some were based on purely political concerns, Jews as communists and other subversive elements would create political instability, or general xenophobia against "foreign" groups. Whether the immigration policy was driven by the characterizations above, or vice versa is not clear.

Anti-Semitism climaxed when the Germans invaded Norway and Denmark on 9 April 1940, in a combined attack, and despite the gallant efforts of the Norwegian, British, Polish and French forces the Germans proved too strong.Norwegian armed resistance  began with the first great act of sabotage (though it lacked any military significance), with the bombing of the Lysaker Bridge linking Oslo to its airport in Fornebu. 

The Norwegian King Haakon VII and his Labor government, fleeing before advancing German troops, refused to cave in to Nazi demands. In Oslo, only the followers of Vidkun Quisling (the former Defense Minister and leader of the local Nazi party, the NS), called for a capitulation to the invaders.

Vidkun Quisling

On 1 February 1942, he took power in Norway as the Minister President, and set about encouraging Nazi values and promoting the German cause in Norway. German authorities under the leadership of Reichskommissar Josef Terboven, put Norwegian civilian authorities under his control. This included various branches of Norwegian police, including the district sheriffs, criminal police, and order police.

The Jewish community of Norway was hit hard by the policies of the Nazis authorities and first anti-Jewish measure was introduced just a month after the  beginning of the occupation, in May 1940, when radios of Jews were confiscated. In October 1941 registration of Jewish property started; a number of Jewish owned firms and businesses were confiscated.

The programme of anti-Jewish measures continued with the stamping of Jewish identity cards which began in January 1942, Jews were to have a red “J” stamped in their identification papers.  During this period  there were some arrests of Jewish men , who were sent to prisons and labor camps inside Norway.but this did not lead to the mass arrests of the 1,700 Jews, of which the majority were refugees from the Reich, concentrated in Oslo.

Josef Terboven

Quisling  appointed a 'Liquidation Board of Confiscated Jewish Assets.' Jewish households and businesses were treated as bankrupt, thus enabling their assets to be sold. The Jewish estates were liquidated, but continued to exist as legal entities, thus permitting expenses to be levied against them. This practice remained in effect even after the war, when a democratic government was established again in Norway.

"The belongings of the estates were distributed according to the interests of the Quisling regime. All gold and silver objects and wristwatches were given to the German security police. The assets of Jews originally from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were given to the German authorities. By the end of the war, the 'Liquidation Board' had used approximately 30 percent of the value of the Jewish properties for its own administration.

A reception camp for Jews was soon established at Berg, near Tonsberg, and during June 1942 a general registration for Jews took place, and the confiscation of all Jewish property was completed by October 1942.

Deportation of Norwegian Jews

On the 2 September 1942 the Chief Rabbi of Norway, Julius Samuel, was ordered to report to the Gestapo. his wife Henriette Samuel urged him to go into hiding, or to flee, but he told her: “As Rabbi, I cannot abandon my community in this perilous hour.” He was then arrested, together with 208 Norwegian men, they were sent to an internment camp at Berg, south of Oslo.

Then on the 25 October the police, ably assisted by the Hirden, the National Socialist militia founded by Vidkun Quisling, seized some 209 Jewish men and boys over sixteen years of age.

They were sent by sea from Norway to Stettin on the Nord-Deutscher Lloyd steamer Donau and then continued their journey by rail to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Then on the 26 November the Norwegian police assisted by the Hirden, the National Socialist Militia founded by Vidkun Quisling, carried out another round up of Jews in Oslo.

At 04.30 hours one hundred taxis and 300 men of the Hirden and Norwegian police divided into approximately fifty groups were charged with collecting ten Jews each. A Norwegian Police officer called Knut Roed planned the action.

The SS Donau

The trip with steamer Donau started in Oslo from the so-called American Quay at 2pm in the afternoon with 532 Jews on board. The steamer docked in Stettin on the 30 November 1942 and this transport arrived in Auschwitz- Birkenau on the 1 December 1942

Among the Jews deported in this transport is Professor Dr. Bertold Epstein, professor of paediatrics at the University of Prague, who emigrated to Norway after the Germans occupied Prague. He receives the camp registration number 79104 and becomes a prisoner physician in the men’s camp atBirkenau, in the Buna auxiliary camp and in the Gypsy camp, his wife dies in the gas chambers.

This transport consisted of 532 Jewish men, women and children, of which 186 men are admitted into the camp, the remaining 346 people are killed in the gas chambers at Birkenau.

Some of the Jews rounded up in November 1942 were not included in the above transport to Poland but were imprisoned at Bredveit prison in Oslo to await deportation to Poland.

'anti-Jewish graffiti in Oslo

On the 24 February 1943, the Bredveit prisoners, along with twenty-five people from the concentration camp at Grini (built in 1939 as a prison for women – but turned into a KZ by the Germans) boarded the Gotenland steamer in Oslo. The ship departed the following day carrying 158 deportees, landing at Stettin on the 27 February 1943.

The deportees then travelled to Berlin, where they stayed overnight at the LevetzowstrasseSynagogue. They then travelled by train and arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau on the 3 March 1943.

The majority of these transports are murdered in the gas chambers, it is thought that out of these transports only thirteen survived the war, some were employed at the Monowitz sub-camp.

Of the remaining 930 Jews they succeeded in escaping over the border into neutral Sweden, with the help of the Norwegian people, who risked their own lives, to help them reach safety. Among those saved was Henriette Samuel, the wife of the already deported Chief Rabbi.

Not only was she saved but also her children, a twenty-five year old Norwegian girl, Inge Sletten, a member of the Norwegian resistance, not only warned her of the impending deportations, but took her and the children to the home of a Christian friend and a week later arranged for them to be smuggled across the border into neutral Sweden, together with forty other Jews.

Others remained in hiding, or were exempt from deportation through marriage to Aryans and interned in camps. The behaviour of the Swedish Government deserves special recognition.

Entrance to the Norwegian Holocaust Memorial

After the first sailing of the Donau Dr Richert, the Swedish Minister in Berlin, proposed that his country should receive all the remaining Jews in Norway. True to his usual stance, Weizacker, the Chief State Secretary of the German Foreign Office, refused even to discuss the matter, and informed Ribbentrop, that he had told Dr Richert that “the project would not stand a chance.”

There was, nevertheless a liberal dispensation of naturalisation papers by the Swedish Consulate of which Terboven, the Reichskommissar complained in March 1943.

Altogether approximately 767 Jewish men, women and children were deported to Poland, mostly to Auschwitz, and 26 survived the war. The former house of Norwegian collaborator and dictator, Vikun Quisling, has become the Norwegian Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, opened on August 23, 2006 as a research center. 

It is located on the Oslo Fjord, with views of the harbor where Norwegian Jews were shipped to Stettin and Auschwitz.


Contributor: bgill
Created: November 13, 2011 · Modified: November 13, 2011

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