Jewish deportees from Norway during World War II

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View of the pier in Oslo where the deportations took place, taken 26 November 2009, 67 years after the largest deportation

Prior to the deportation of individuals of Jewish background to the concentration camps there were at least 2,173 Jews in Norway. During the Nazi occupation of Norway 772[1] of these were arrested, detained, and/or deported, most of them sent to Auschwitz. 742 were murdered in the camps, 23 died as a result of extrajudicial execution, murder, and suicide during the war.[2] Between 28 and 34 of those deported survived [3] their continued imprisonment (following their deportation). The Norwegian police and German authorities kept records of these victims, and so, researchers were able to compile information about the deportees.[4][Note 1]

Before deportation[edit]

The deportation followed a series of steps to discriminate, persecute, and disenfranchise Jews in Norway. Jewish individuals were at first arrested, Jewish property was confiscated, Jews were ordered to report to local police stations and have their identification cards stamped with a "J" and fill in a lengthy form about their profession, holdings, and family. Based on the lists the police compiled, most Jewish adult men were arrested and detained in October 1942, and by November 26, women and children were also arrested for deportation. This is the only time in Norwegian history that Norwegian police had been ordered to arrest children.[5][6]

The deportation from Norway to concentration camps followed a planned staging of events involving both Norwegian police authorities and German Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst, and SS staff, though the front for the campaign was through Statspolitiet under the command of Karl Marthinsen:[4][7]

  • As of part of an overall effort to register and disenfranchise Jews from Norwegian economic and political life, some individuals were arrested, detained and deported immediately for various reasons. Some were citizens of countries not under German control or with puppet regimes (e.g., France and Romania); others were arrested as political prisoners early in the process, and treated individually.
  • Smaller groups were typically transported with the transport Monte Rosa, which was used for regular troop and prisoner transports between Oslo and Århus in Denmark.[3][4]

Detentions and deportation took on scale when all Jewish men were ordered arrested on October 26, 1942 and sent to camps in Norway, notable Berg, Grini, and Falstad, where they were held under harsh conditions until the deportation, targeted for November 26 on the Donau.[4]

Women and children were arrested on or just before November 26 with the goal of deporting them the same day.[3][4]

The arrests were conducted by Norwegian policemen and lensmenn—not by Germans—according to Baard Herman Borge (a researcher).[8]

After arrival at the pier in Oslo[edit]

  • Under the command of Knut Rød, women and children in Oslo and Aker were joined with male members of the family at the pier at Akershuskaia where they were forcibly boarded on the SS Donau.[3][4]
  • On the same day, the Monte Rosa also left Akershuskaia with a smaller number of Jewish prisoners, primarily from Grini[3][4]
  • However, delays in transit from camps outside of Oslo caused the Donau to leave several intended deportees in Norway for a later departure. These were imprisoned at the Bredtveit concentration camp, where they were subjected to mistreatment and neglect. The transport ship Gotenland left in February with remaining prisoners.[3][4]


The deportation schedule for the major transports was:

Departure date Ship No. of Jewish deportees No. of survivors Route and destination
20-Nov-1942 Monte Rosa 19 0 Docked in Århus, train to Auschwitz via Hamburg
26-Nov-1942 Monte Rosa 27 2 Docked in Århus, train to Auschwitz via Hamburg
26-Nov-1942 Donau 532[9] 9 Docked in Stettin, train to Auschwitz
24-Feb-1943 Gotenland 157 6 Docked in Stettin, train to Auschwitz via Berlin
Other, 27-Apr-1941 - 10-Aug-1944 Various ships 30 11
Total 768 28

Most of those deported were Norwegian citizens. Some were stateless refugees, and a few were citizens of other countries.

In addition to those Jews from Norway which were killed by the Nazis in death camps (Vernichtungslager), at least 22 more Jews died in Norway as a result of murder, extrajudicial executions and suicide.[Note 2]

Age distribution of Jewish individuals deported from Norway[edit]

Age Number Percentage
0-5 16 2.2%
6-15 49 6.6%
16-25 121 16.5%
26-35 128 17.5%
36-45 104 14.0%
46-55 153 20.7%
56-65 112 15.2%
66-75 43 5.9%
>76 11 1.5%

Distribution of deportees by county arrested and transport[edit]

Jewish individuals who were deported included those with Norwegian citizenship, foreign citizens, and stateless refugees that were arrested and deported. The site where they were arrested was not always their place of residence; many had relocated to rural areas to avoid detection. The majority of those deported were immediately murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz; some were put to slave labor but perished soon after. A very small number ultimately survived.[3]

County Donau Gotenland Kvarstad Monte Rosa Other route Totals
Østfold 2 2 1 4 9
Akershus 36 2 1 39
Aust-Agder 2 2
Buskerud 15 1 4 20
Finnmark 2 2
Hedmark 5 1 3 9
Hordaland 13 12 1 26
Møre og Romsdal 3 24 3 30
Nordland 6 3 4 13
Oppland 12 2 14
Oslo 395 41 23 17 476
Rogaland 5 5 2 13
Sør-Trøndelag 6 53 1 2 62
Sogn og Fjordane 4 4
Telemark 1 1 2
Troms 1 8 8 17
Vest-Agder 2 2
Vestfold 27 2 29
Totals 534 157 1 46 30 768

Jews who died in prison camp[edit]

Liberation and return[edit]

Thousands of Norwegians were deported to camps in Germany and German-occupied territories during World War II. Most of those who survived were rescued by the White Buses campaign undertaken by the Norwegian government in exile, the Swedish government, the Danish government, with the Swedish Red Cross implementing the rescue with its offices.[10] This followed intensive efforts by Norwegian and other Scandinavians to track and maintain contact with Norwegian citizens in camps.[11][12][13] By comparison, there was no organized effort to maintain contact with and establish the fate of Jews who had been deported from Norway.

34 of the deportees survived the war.[14] At least 21 of them returned to Norway soon after the war.[Note 3] The survivors were liberated from the following camps:

  • Auschwitz (at least three survivors)[Note 4]
  • Bergen Belsen (at least three survivors)[Note 5]
  • Buchenwald: at least five survivors. Having survived a death march from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, Leo Eitinger, Pelle Hirsch, Assor Hirsch, Julius Paltiel, and Samuel Steinmann were liberated there on April 11. On March 1, fellow Norwegian but non-Jewish students had been sent by train from Buchenwald to Neuengamme as part of the White Buses operation, but these five were not allowed to leave on account of being Jewish. Following the liberation, the five had to find their own way home with the help of American and Danish individuals and officials. They arrived by boat in Oslo. Authorities were unable to provide them with any help, not even housing, and they relied on friends to get situated again.[Note 6]
  • Mauthausen—at least two survivors.[Note 7][15]
  • Ravensbruck—at least one survivor.[Note 8]
  • Sachsenhausen—at least four survivors including Moritz Nachtstern who was kept in Block 19 at Sachsenhausen as part of Nazi Germany's efforts to counterfeit Allied currency. He found his own way home after liberation.[Note 9]
  • Theresienstadt: —at least one survivor.[Note 10]

2015 saw the death of the last remaining survivor of those deported from Norway—Samuel Steinmann.[16][17]

Aided by the organization behind the White Buses[edit]

Four Norwegian Jews were rescued by the White Buses.[Note 11] At least one prisoner at the Dachau concentration camp was denied—by an SS-soldier—leaving with the White Buses, because the prisoner allegedly was not considered a Norwegian since he was a Jew.[18]


In trials in 1946 and 1948 regarding Knut Rød's role in the deportations, he was found not guilty.[1] An Aftenposten article in 2014 said that the not guilty verdict has been called "the point of absolute zero in Norway's judicial history".[1]


Individual deportees have been commemorated with stolpersteine on a number of sidewalks in Oslo.[19]

Notable survivors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Some discrepancies about the numbers remain. For example, German documents related to the transit of prisoners on the Donau indicate that 530 were deported from Oslo, whereas the list compiled by Ottosen (1992) indicates that 534 were on board, but this includes Helene Johansen and Mirjam Kristiansen, who were deported on the Donau, but on another date. Kai Feinberg, who was a prisoner on the Donau, was ordered to compile a list of prisoners at the time, and his recollection was that there were 532 on board. Mendelsohn allows that some individuals may have been counted twice, others may have been omitted. The list provided here is based on Ottosen's list, with annotations where these are available. It has been checked for possible duplicates based on name and date of birth. In most sources, the number of survivors is commonly cited as 26; Ottosen (1992) lists 26 individuals as survivors, but omits Harry Meyer, who was captured in the context of the Kvarstad incident, and Robert Savosnick, probably due to an error on his part; as Savosnick is listed as a survivor in the master of list of deportees. This list includes all those who the Nazi authorities considered Jewish. A few of these did not consider themselves Jewish. None of the available literature seeks to ascertain which of the victims were or were not Jewish according to halacha.
  2. ^ A smaller number of Jews and individuals judged to be of Jewish heritage were imprisoned under harsh circumstances in Norway during the war but spared deportation, either because they were married to non-Jews, did not fall under the Nazi criteria for being Jewish, or were citizens of countries not under German occupation. It also appears that Jews with Danish citizenship were spared. The deaths of Jews in Norway does not include those who died of natural causes that may have been aggravated by neglect or denial of adequate medical treatment.
  3. ^
    • Friedrich and Grete Dollar were among the last Norwegian sent to Norway. It is unclear how they returned to Kristiansand
    • Moritz Kahan returned to Norway via unknown means
    • The twins Fritz and Hans Lustig returned to their home town of Brno after the war but emigrated years later, settling in Norway.
    • Otto Eisler, returned to his home city of Brno after the war.
    • Berthold Epstein, a noted professor in pediatrics, returned to Prague after the war to continue his medical and academic career
    • Fritz Georg Ruzicka did not return to Norway but settled in Denmark to a successful career as an entertainer
    • Leopold and Lisa Segal settled in Great Britain after the war
  4. ^ :* Jacques Stanning was liberated by Soviet forces in Auschwitz. He returned to Norway in August 1945.
    • Kai Feinberg was liberated from Auschwitz and worked for some time in Eastern Europe before he returned to Norway on his own
    • Paul Ludwig Cohn, was ill in Auschwitz when it was liberated by Soviet forces and narrowly escaped.
  5. ^ :* Herman Sachnowitz was liberated from Bergen Belsen, put under the care of British troops and returned to Norway on his own
  6. ^ Several sources cite the experiences of Eitinger, the Hirsch brothers, Paltiel, and Steinmann, including: "Buchenwald" (in Norwegian). White Buses Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-25.[dead link], Paltiel's memoirs, Steinmann's interview, and the biography of Eitinger. Both Paltiel and Steinmann say that being left behind by the White Buses was the greatest disappointment in their time in captivity.
  7. ^ Fritz and Hans Lustig
  8. ^ :* Benno Asberg was refused admission to the White Buses while in Ravensbrück, escaped, and was rescued by advancing Soviet forces; Mendelsohn (1986, p. 181)
  9. ^ :* Georg Rechenberg and Robert Savosnick were liberated from Sachsenhausen without the benefit of the White Buses. Thanks to the help of Norwegian officer Helmer Bonnevie, they returned on their own to Norway. Harry Meyer, who participated in the breakout by the Kvarstad vessels, was liberated from Sachsenhausen. Mendelsohn (1986, p. 153, p. 183)
  10. ^ Pavel Fraenkl was liberated from Theresienstadt and returned to Norway by unknown means, where he had a distinguished career as a literary professor
  11. ^ * Josef Berg happened to be in Sachsenhausen when the White Buses arrived. Thanks to non-Jewish Norwegian prisoners, he was accepted on board the bus, one of only four Jews from Norway to be rescued by the operation
    • Eugen Keil returned to Norway from Sachsenhausen via the White Buses
    • Harry Meyer was in Sachsenhausen at the end of the war and was one of four Norwegian Jews rescued by the White Buses
    • Leif Wolfberg was rescued by the White Buses when his fellow non-Jewish Norwegian prisoners forged his papers to have him renamed Rolf Berg.


  1. ^ a b c Hans Brattestå (2014-01-27). "En skamplett på norsk rettsvesen - Ingen har funnet å kunne beklage utfallet av og de kyniske verdiavveininger som ble gjort i "Knut Rød-saken". Kanskje er det på tide nå?" [A shameful stain on the Norwegian judicial system - No one has said sorry for the outcome and cynicism of—and the cynical verdiavveininger which were done in the "Knut Rød case"]. Aftenposten.
  2. ^ Mendelsohn, Oskar (1986). Jødenes historie i Norge gjennom 300 år - Bind 2 1940-1985 (in Norwegian) (2nd ed.). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. pp. 334–360. ISBN 82-00-02524-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ottosen, Kristian (1994). "Vedlegg 1". I slik en natt; historien om deportasjonen av jøder fra Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. pp. 334–360. ISBN 82-03-26049-7.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Inndragning av jødisk eiendom i Norge under den 2. verdenskrig. Norges offentlige utredninger (in Norwegian). Oslo: Statens forvaltningstjeneste. June 1997. ISBN 82-583-0437-2. NOU 1997:22 ("Skarpnesutvalget"). Retrieved 2008-01-16.
  5. ^ Nore, Aslak; Mørland (2011-12-04). "Unnskyldning fra høyeste hold". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian Bokmål). pp. 2, 3. Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. av alle nordmenn med "J-merket pass"In this op-ed, Nore incorrectly writes that they arrests were based on J stamps in passports. As documented by Søbye, Ottosen, and others, the police generated arrest sheets based on lists compiled of Jews and suspected Jews. Further, national identification cards were stamped with a "J."
  6. ^ Søbye, Espen (2003). Kathe, alltid vært i Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Oktober. ISBN 82-7094-926-4.
  7. ^ Johansen, Per Ole (2006). På siden av rettsoppgjøret. Unipub. ISBN 978-82-7477-233-5.
  8. ^ – Jødenes historie er skrevet feil - Krigshistorieforsker mener nasjonalbygging har ført til en feilaktig historiefortelling om arrestasjonene av jøder under 2. verdenskrig. [– The history of Jews has been written down with mistakes - researcher of war history opines that nation building has led to an erroneous narration of history regarding the arrests of Jews during World War Two.]
  9. ^ "26. november 1942 kl. 14.45: Skipet Donau forlater Akershuskaia, med 532 jødiske menn, kvinner og barn ombord."
  10. ^ "Specifikation över antal räddade/transporterade med de Vita bussarna" [Specification of the number of rescued/transported by the White Buses] (PDF) (in Swedish). Swedish Red Cross. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  11. ^ Frafjord, Karine Næss (1999-05-19). "Intervju med Wanda Heger" (in Norwegian). Stiftelsen Hvite Busser. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  12. ^ Raimund Koplin, Renate Stegmueller (1994). Es war nicht ihr Krieg (16 mm). Munich: Renate Stegmueller Filmproduktion, in co-production with BR/Munich, SFB/Berlin, WDR/Cologne. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  13. ^ "Hjort, Johan Bernhard" (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  14. ^ Forespørsel om dødsattest for Ernst Savosnick - Robert Savosnick var en av de 34 deporterte norske jødene som overlevde Holocaust. Savosnick mistet imidlertid sin far, Ernst, i Auschwitz. Da Robert vendte hjem til Norge fikk han tilsendt en forespørsel om å fremskaffe dødsattest for å få utbetalt farens livsforsikring. Liknende forespørsler og krav om dødsattester fra forsikringsselskaper illustrerer ett av de tunge aspektene ved livet til jødene som vendte hjem etter krigen. [Request for death certificate for Ernst Savosnick - Robert Savosnick was one of the 34 deported Norwegian Jews that survived Holocaust. Savosnick lost his father in Auschwitz. When Robert returned home to Norway, a request was sent to him to fetch a death certificate to receive payment in regards to his father's life insurance. Such requests and demands of death certifiacates (from insurance companies) illustrate one of the difficult aspects of life for the Jews that returned home after the war.]
  15. ^ Maynard M. Cohen. A Stand Against Tyranny: Norway's Physicians and the Nazis. p. 270.
  16. ^ Den siste jøde
  18. ^ Tidsvitner Archived 2013-07-09 at [Witness] "Fra Warszawa ble Robert sendt videre til Dachau. Han fikk ikke være med de hvite bussene, fordi han som jøde ikke ble ansett som norsk. SS-soldaten ga klar beskjed: "du bist kein norweger, du bist ein verdammte jude" og du skal bli her så lenge du lever. Det var et hardt slag." [... to Dachau. He didn't get to travel with the white buses, because he as a Jew was not considered to be Norwegian. The SS-soldier told him: 'you are no Norwegian, you are a damn Jew, and you are to stay here as long as you live'"]
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2011-12-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Editorial in Dagbladet
  21. ^ En tid uten vitner
  22. ^ MINNEORD: Med trikken til Auschwitz
  23. ^ "[editorial] Vår felles plikt". Dagsavisen. 2015-05-04.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Siste farvel med fange 79 231


  • Mendelsohn, Oskar (1986). Jødenes historie i Norge gjennom 300 år - Bind 2 1940-1985 (in Norwegian) (2nd ed.). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. pp. 334–360. ISBN 82-00-02524-1.
  • Ottosen, Kristian (1994). "Vedlegg 1". I slik en natt; historien om deportasjonen av jøder fra Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. pp. 334–360. ISBN 82-03-26049-7.
  • Søbye, Espen (2003). Kathe, alltid vært i Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Oktober. ISBN 978-82-7094-926-7.
  • Komissar, Vera (1992). Nådetid - norske jøder på flukt (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-17170-2.
  • Berman, Irene Levin (2008). "Vi skal plukke poteter" - Flukten fra Holocaust (in Norwegian). Oslo: Orion. ISBN 978-82-458-0865-0.

External links[edit]


Deceased in camps:



Stefansen, Arnt; Feinberg, Kai (1995). Fange nr 79108 vender tilbake [Prisoner no. 79108 returns]. Cappelen.