The Holocaust in Norway
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Jews on selection ramp at Auschwitz, May 1944
In 1941–1942 during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, there were at least 2,173 Jews in Norway. At least 775 of them were arrested, detained and/or deported. More than half of the Norwegians who died in camps in Germany were Jews. 742 Jews were murdered in the camps and 23 Jews died as a result of extrajudicial execution, murder and suicide during the war, bringing the total of Jewish Norwegian dead to at least 765 Jews, comprising 230 complete households. "Nearly two-thirds of the Jews in Norway fled from Norway". Of these, around 900 Jews were smuggled out of the country by the Norwegian resistance movement, mostly to Sweden but some also to the United Kingdom). Between 28 and 34 of those deported survived their continued imprisonment in camps (following their deportation)—and around 25 (of these) returned to Norway after the war.
- 1 Background
- 2 Preparations
- 3 Confiscation and arrests
- 4 Deportation and mass murder
- 5 Escape to Sweden
- 6 Criminal culpability and moral responsibility
- 7 The State Railways' role
- 8 Post-war reactions
- 8.1 The post-war Norwegian government's refusal to finance the return of deported Jewish Norwegians
- 8.2 Restitution
- 8.3 Skarpnes commission
- 8.4 Legacy
- 8.5 Emergence of literature about the Holocaust in Norway
- 8.6 Research
- 9 Notes
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
The Jewish community in Norway was established in the late 19th century, after a clause in the Norwegian constitution of 1814 that banned Jews from entering Norway was repealed in 1851. The population grew slowly until the early 20th century, when pogroms in Russia and the Baltic states increased the number of immigrants. Another immigration increase came in the 1930s, as Jews fled Nazi persecution in Germany and areas under German control. See also Nansenhjelpen.
By 1942, there were 2,173 Jews in Norway. Of these, it is estimated that 1,643 were Norwegian citizens, 240 were foreign citizens, and 290 were stateless.
Much of the prejudice against Jews commonly found in Europe was also evident in Norway in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Nasjonal Samling (NS), the Nazi party in Norway, made antisemitism part of its political platform in the 1930s. Halldis Neegaard Østbye became the de facto spokeswoman for increasingly virulent propaganda against Jews, summarized in her 1938 book Jødeproblemet og dets løsning (The Jewish Problem and its Solution). NS had also started gathering information about Jewish Norwegians before the war started, and antisemitic op-ed articles were occasionally published in the mainstream press.
Following the German invasion and occupation, of Norway, and after the legitimate Norwegian government had left the country, German occupying 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 (Lensmannsetaten), criminal police, and order police. Nazi police branches, including the SD and Gestapo, also became part of a network that served as tools for increasingly oppressive policies toward the Norwegian populace.
As a deliberate strategy, Terboven's regime sought to use Norwegian, rather than German, officials to subjugate the Norwegian population. Although German police and paramilitary forces reported through the RSHA chain of command, and Norwegian police formally into the newly formed Department of Police, the actual practice was that Norwegian police officials took direction from the German RSHA.
Although several Jewish Norwegians had already been arrested and deported as political prisoners in the early months of the occupation, the first measure targeting all Jews was an order from the German foreign ministry made through Terboven that on 10 May 1941 the police of Oslo were to confiscate radios from all Jews in the city. Within days local sheriffs throughout the entire country received the same orders.
To identify Jewish Norwegians, the authorities relied on information from the police and telegraph service, whilst the synagogues in Oslo and Trondheim were ordered to produce full rosters of their members, including their names, date of birth, profession, and address. Jewish burial societies and youth groups were likewise ordered to produce their lists.
In August, the synagogues were also ordered to produce lists of Jewish individuals who were not members. The resulting lists were cross-referenced with information Nasjonal Samling had compiled previously and information from the Norwegian Central Bureau of statistics. In the end, occupying authorities in Norway had a more complete list of Jewish residents in Norway than most other countries under Nazi rule.
On the basis of the lists compiled in the spring, the Justice Department and county governors started in the fall to register all Jewish property, including commercial holdings. A complete inventory was transmitted to the police department in December 1941, and this also included individuals who were suspected of having a Jewish background.
On 20 December, the Norwegian Department of Police ordered 700 stamps with a 2 cm tall "J" for use by authorities to stamp the identification cards of Jewish individuals in Norway. These were put into use on 10 January 1942, when advertisements in the mainstream press ordered all Norwegian Jews to immediately present themselves at the local police stations to have their identification papers stamped. They were also ordered to complete an extensive form. For purposes of this registration, a Jew was identified as anyone who had at least three "full-Jewish" grandparents; anyone who had two "full-Jewish" grandparents and was married to a Jew; or was a member of a Jewish congregation. This registration showed that about 1,400 Jewish adults lived in Norway.
Confiscation and arrests
Both the German and Norwegian police officials intensified efforts to target the Jewish population during the course of 1941 and the Falstad concentration camp was established near Levanger, north of Trondheim. Jewish individuals, particularly those who were stateless, were briefly detained in connection with Operation Barbarossa. The first Jewish Norwegian to be deported was Benjamin Bild, a labor union activist and mechanic, who died in Gross Rosen. Moritz Rabinowitz, was probably the first to be arrested in March, 1941 for agitating against Nazi antisemitism in the Haugesund press. He was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he was beaten to death on 27 December 1942.
German troops occupied and vandalized the Trondheim Synagogue on 21 April 1941. The Torah scrolls had been secured in the early days of the war, and before long the Methodist church in Trondheim had provided temporary facilities for Jewish religious services. Several Jewish residents of Trondheim were arrested and detained at Falstad. The first such prisoner was Efraim Koritzinsky, a medical doctor and head of Trondheim hospital. Several others followed; altogether eight of these were shot in the woods outside of the camp that became the infamous site of extrajudicial executions in Norway On 24 February, all remaining Jewish property in Trondheim was seized by Nazi authorities.
By the fall of 1942, about 150 Jews from Norway had fled the country. The Jewish population in Norway had experienced some[clarification needed] mistreatment specifically targeted at them, but the prevailing sense was that their lot was the same as all other Norwegians.
After numerous cases of harassment and violence against individuals, orders were issued to Norwegian police authorities on 24 and 25 October 1942, to arrest all Jewish men over the age of 15 and confiscate all their property. On 26 October, several Norwegian police branches and 20 soldiers of Germanic-SS rounded up and arrested Jewish men, often leaving their wives and children on the street. These prisoners were held primarily at Berg concentration camp in Southern Norway and Falstad concentration camp in central parts of the country; some were held in local jails, while Jewish women were ordered to report in person to their local sheriffs on a daily basis.
On the morning of 26 November, German soldiers and more than 300 Norwegian officials (belonging to Statspolitiet, Kriminalpolitiet, Hirden and Germanske SS-Norge) were deployed to arrest and detain Jewish women and children. These were sent by cars and train to the pier in Oslo where a cargo ship, the SS Donau was waiting to transport them to Stettin, and from there to Auschwitz.
By 27 November, all Jews in Norway (except one) were either deported and murdered, imprisoned, had fled to Sweden, or were in hiding in Norway.
Deportation and mass murder
- The first group deportation of Jews from Norway was on 19 November 1942 when the ship Monte Rosa left Oslo with 223 prisoners, of which 21 were Jewish.
- The original plan was to ship all remaining Jews in Norway in one cargo ship, the SS Donau, on 26 November 1942, but only 532 prisoners boarded the SS Donau that day. Coincidentally with the departure of the SS Donau the same day, the MS Monte Rosa carried 26 Jews from Oslo. The Donau landed in Stettin on 30 November. The prisoners boarded cargo trains at Breslauer Bahnhof, 60 to a car and departed Stettin at 5:12 pm. The train journey to Auschwitz took 28 hours. All the prisoners arrived alive at the camp, and there they were sorted into two lines. 186 were sent to slave labor in the Birkenau subcamp, the rest - 345 - were killed (within hours) in Auschwitz's gas chambers.
- The remaining Jewish prisoners that had been en route to Oslo on 26 November for the departure of the Donau were delayed, possibly as a result of delaying tactics by the Red Cross and sympathetic railroad workers. These were imprisoned under harsh conditions at Bredtveit concentration camp in Oslo to await a later transport.
- On 24 February 1943, the Bredtveit prisoners, along with 25 from Grini, boarded the Gotenland in Oslo, altogether 158. The ship departed the following day, also landing in Stettin, where they arrived on 27 February. They traveled to Auschwitz via Berlin, where they stayed overnight at the Levetzowstrasse Synagogue. They arrived at Auschwitz on the night between 2 March and 3 March. Of the 158 who arrived from Norway, only 26 or 28 survived the first day, being sent to the Monowitz subcamp of Auschwitz.
There were smaller and individual deportations after the Gotenland's voyage. A smaller number of Jewish prisoners remained in camps in Norway during the war, primarily those who were married to non-Jewish Norwegians. These were subject to mistreatment and neglect. In the camp in Grini, for example, the group that was harshest treated consisted of violent criminals and Jews.
Altogether, about 767 Jews from Norway were deported and sent to concentration camps under German control, primarily Auschwitz. 26 of these survived the ordeal. In addition to the 741 murdered in the camps, 23 died as a result of extrajudicial execution, murder, and suicide during the war; bringing the total of Jewish Norwegian dead to at least 764, comprising 230 complete households.
Escape to Sweden
Early during the occupation, there was traffic between neutral countries, primarily Sweden over land; and the United Kingdom, by sea. Even as the occupying authorities tried[how?] to limit such traffic, the underground railroad became more organized. Swedish authorities were at first only willing to accept political refugees and did not count Jews among them. Several Jewish refugees were turned away at the border, and a few were subsequently deported.
The North Sea route would become increasingly challenging as German forces increased their naval presence along the Norwegian coast, limiting the sea route to special operations missions against German military targets. The land routes to Sweden became the main conduit for people and materials that either needed to get out of Norway for their safety, or into Norway for clandestine missions.
There were a few private routes across the border, but most were organized through three resistance groups: Milorg ("military organization"), Sivorg ("civilian organization") and Komorg, the communist resistance group. These routes were carefully guarded, in large part through a network of secret cells. Some efforts to infiltrate them, especially through the Rinnan gang (Sonderabteilung Lola) succeeded, but such holes were quickly plugged.
Recommendations for (or warnings to) escape
Examples of Jews being recommended to escape include outgoing communication by anti-Nazi Germans in Norway: Theodor Steltzer warned Wolfgang Geldmacher—married to Randi Eckhoff, sister of member of the Resistance "Rolf Eckhoff. From them, warnings were passed on to Lise Børsum, Amalie Christie, Robert Riefling, Ole Jacob Malm and others".
Report of disappearance—filed in Norway—regarding two Jews on the first transport from Prague to Poland
On 16 December 1941, "secretary of Nansen International Office for Refugees received a letter from the stateless Jews Nora Lustig, Fritz Lusting and Leo Eitinger. They were in Norway, and wrote that Czech Jews that they knew, had been deported to an unknown place in Poland. They asked Filseth, to report missing (through Red Cross), two Jews, shipped with the first transport from Prague to Poland".
After the arrest of Jewish men (on 26 October 1942)
The arrest and detention of Jewish men on 26 October 1942 changed that premise, but at that point many were afraid of reprisals against the imprisoned men if they left. Some Norwegian Nazis and German officials advised Jews to leave the country as quickly as possible.
On the evening of 25 November, resistance people got a few hours' notice before the scheduled arrests and deportation of all Jews in Norway. Many did their best to notify the remaining Jews who were not already detained, usually by making brief phone calls or short appearances on people's doorsteps. This was more successful in Oslo than other areas. Those who were warned only had a few hours to go into hiding and days to find their way out of the country.
The Norwegian resistance movement had not planned for the contingency that hundreds of individuals had to go underground in one night, and it was left to individuals to improvise shelter out of sight of the arresting authorities. Many were moved several times in just as many days.
Most of the refugees were moved in small groups across the border, typically with the help of taxis or trucks, railroads to areas near the border, and then by foot, car, bicycle, or on skis across the border. It was a particularly cold winter, and the crossing involved considerable hardship and uncertainty. Those who had the means, paid their non-Jewish helpers for their trouble.
The passage was complicated by the vigilance of police who were committed to capturing such refugees, and Terboven imposed the death penalty for anyone caught aiding Jewish refugees. Only individuals who by application were granted "border zone permits" were allowed within easy traveling distance to the border with Sweden. Trains were subject to regular search and inspection, and there were continuous patrols of the area. A failed crossing would have dire consequences for anyone caught, as indeed it turned out for a few.
Still, at least 900 Jewish refugees made their way across the border to Sweden. They usually went through a transit center in Kjesäter in Vingåker, and then found temporary homes throughout Sweden, but mostly in certain towns where Norwegians gathered, such as Uppsala.
Criticism of the Norwegian government in exile, and of Milorg
Some have said that the Norwegian government in exile should have warned the Jews (and told them to flee), since Trygve Lie already in June 1942 knew about what was happening to Jews in continental Europe, while others say that "What could one expect from Lie while the British and the Americans did not believe the messages from Poland? Also in Norway there had been difficulty in believing that gruesomness had taken place".
Some have said that Milorg did too little for the Jews, while others say that "The great rescue operation Carl Fredriksens Transport was a result of orders from a tilbaketrukket leader of Milorg, Ole Berg, and later financed by Sivorg".
Criminal culpability and moral responsibility
Although both the Norwegian Nazi party Nasjonal Samling and the German Nazi establishment had a political platform that called for persecution and ultimately the genocide of European Jewry, the arrest and deportation of Jews in Norway into the hands of the camp officials turned on the actions of several specific individuals and groups.
The ongoing rivalry between Reichskommissar Josef Terboven and Ministerpresident Vidkun Quisling may have played a role, as both were likely presented with the directives from the Wannsee Conference in January 1942. The German policy was to use Norwegian police as a front for the Norwegian implementation of the conference plans, orders for which were issued along two chains of command: from Adolf Eichmann through the RSHA and Heinrich Fehlis to Hellmuth Reinhard, the Gestapo chief in Norway; and from Quisling through the "minister of justice" Sverre Riisnæs and "minister of police" Jonas Lie through to Karl Marthinsen, the head of the Norwegian state police.
Documentation from the period suggests that the Nazi authorities, and especially the Quisling administration, were loath to initiate actions that might cause widespread opposition among the Norwegian population. Quisling had tried and failed to take over the teachers' unions, the clergy of the State of Norway, athletics, and the arts. Eichmann had de-prioritized the extermination of Jews in Norway, as the number was low and even Nasjonal Samling had claimed that the "Jewish problem" in Norway was minor. Confiscation of Jewish property, the arrest of Jewish men, constant harassment and individual murder was – until late November, 1942 – part of Terboven's approach of terrorizing the Norwegian population into submission.
The evidence suggests that Hellmuth Reinhard took the initiative to put an end to all Jews in Norway. This may have been motivated by his own ambition, and it's possible he was encouraged by the lack of outrage over the initial measures targeting Jews.
According to the trial against him in Baden-Baden in 1964, Reinhard arranged for the SS Donau to set aside capacity for prisoner transport on 26 November and ordered Karl Marthinsen to mobilize the necessary Norwegian forces to effect the transit from Norway. In a curious sidenote to all this, he also sent along a typewriter on the Donau to properly register all prisoners, and was insistent that it be returned to him on Donau's return voyage – which it was.
A local, Norwegian, police chief in Oslo named Knut Rød provided on-the-ground command of Norwegian police officers for arresting women and children and transporting them as well as the men who had already been detained to the Oslo harbor and putting them in the hands of the German SS troops.
Eichmann was not notified of the transport until the Donau had left the harbor, bound for Stettin. Nevertheless, he was able to arrange for box cars to be present for transport to Auschwitz.
Of those involved:
- Terboven committed suicide before being captured when the war ended; Quisling was convicted for treason and executed. Jonas Lie died, apparently of a heart attack before his capture. Sverre Riisnæs either feigned insanity or went insane and was put in protective custody. Marthinsen was assassinated by the Norwegian resistance in February 1945. Heinrich Fehlis committed suicide by first taking poison and then shooting himself in May 1945.
In the end, only two of the principals were put on trial:
- Hellmuth Reinhard left Norway in January 1945 without any clues to his whereabouts. He was presumed dead and his wife was issued a death certificate so she could remarry. But it turned out he had changed his name to his birth name of Hellmuth Patzschke and had actually remarried his "widow," settling down as a publisher in Baden-Baden. His real identity was discovered in 1964, and he was put on trial. In spite of overwhelming evidence about his culpability for the deportation of Jews from Norway and his complicity in their deaths, he was acquitted because statute of limitations had expired. He was convicted and sentenced to five years for his participation in Operation Blumenpflücken.
- Knut Rød was put on trial in 1948, acquitted of all charges, and managed to get reinstated as a police officer and retired in 1965. Rød's acquittal remains controversial this day and has been characterized as "the strangest criminal trial [in the legal proceedings after World War II]".
- Another controversial trial was that held against members of the resistance Peder Pedersen and Håkon Løvestad, who confessed to killing an elderly Jewish couple and stealing their money. The jury found that the killing was justified, but convicted the two of embezzlement. This also became a controversial issue known as the Feldmann case.
The moral culpability among Norwegian police officers and Norwegian informants is a matter of continuing research and debate.
Although the persecution and murder of Jews was raised as a factor in several trials, including that against Quisling, legal scholars agree that in no case was it a decisive or even weighty factor in the conviction or sentencing of these people.
Beyond the criminal actions of individuals in Norway that led to the deportation and murder of Jews from Norway, and indeed also of non-Jews who were persecuted on political, religious or other pretexts, there has been considerable public debate in Norway about the public morals that allowed these crimes to take place and did not prevent them from happening.
Comparison between Denmark and Norway
The situation of the Jews in Denmark was very different from Norway. Far fewer Danish Jews were arrested and deported, and those who were deported were sent to Theresienstadt, rather than Auschwitz, where a relatively large percentage survived.
Several factors have been cited for these differences 
- In Denmark, the German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz leaked the plans for arrest and deportation to Hans Hedtoft several days before the plan was to be put in motion. There was no such humanitarian among German officials in Norway.
- The terms of occupation in Denmark gave Danish politicians greater influence over internal affairs in Denmark, and in particular command authority over Danish police forces. Consequently, German occupying authorities had to rely on German police and military to perform arrests. Where Danish police participated, it was to rescue Jews from Germans. Since the Norwegians resisted the Germans more actively, the country never enjoyed the same civil autonomy as did the Danes during the occupation.
- Danish popular opinion was more actively opposed to the Nazi occupation and was more emboldened to take care of its Jewish citizens. Non-Jewish Danes were known to take to the streets to find Jews who needed shelter, and to search the forests for Jews who had hidden there to help them.
- The arrest of Norwegian Jews happened about one year before the arrests in Denmark, and also before the Soviet victory at Stalingrad, which changed nearby Sweden's stand from being supportive of the Germans to lean towards the Allies. As there was considerable contact between the resistance in Denmark and Norway through neutral Sweden it means that the Danes knew what fate the Danish Jews were destined for. That Sweden had changed to lean towards the Allies also meant that it was open for Jewish refugees, which had not been the case before and early in the war.
Issues of moral responsibility
The exiled Norwegian government became part of the Allies upon the invasion on 9 April 1940. Though the most significant contribution of the Allied war effort was through the merchant marine fleet known as Nortraship, a number of Norwegian military forces were established and became part of the Norwegian Armed Forces in exile. Consequently, the Norwegian government was regularly briefed on Allied intelligence relating to atrocities committed by German forces in Eastern Europe and in occupied Netherlands, France, etc.
In addition, the Norwegian government also received regular intelligence from the Norwegian home front, including accounts from returning Norwegian Germanic-SS soldiers, who had firsthand accounts of massacres of Jews in Poland, the Ukraine, etc.
Indeed, both underground resistance newspapers in Norway and the Norwegian press abroad published news about "wholesale murders" of Jews in the late summer and fall of 1942. There is, however, little evidence that either the Norwegian home front or Norwegian government expected that the Jews in Norway would be a target for the genocide that was unfolding on the European continent. On 1 December 1942, the Norwegian foreign minister, Trygve Lie sent a letter to the British section of the World Jewish Congress where he asserted that:
...it has never been found necessary for the Norwegian Government to appeal to the people of Norway to assist and to protect other individuals of classes in Norway, who have been selected for persecution by the German aggressors, and I feel convinced that such an appeal is not needed in order to urge the population to fulfill their human duty towards the Jews of Norway.— Abrahamsen 1991, p. 10.
Although the Norwegian resistance by the fall of 1942 had a sophisticated network for transmitting and propagating urgent news among the population that led to very effective passive resistance efforts, e.g., in keeping the teachers' union, athletics, physicians, etc., out of Nazi control, no such notifications were issued to save Jews.
The Protestant religious establishment in Norway did, however, make their opposition known: in a letter to Vidkun Quisling dated 10 November 1942, read out in Norwegian churches on two consecutive Sundays, bishops of the Church of Norway, the administration of the theological seminaries, the leaders of several leading religious organizations, and the leaders of non-Lutheran Protestant organizations protesting actions against the Jews, calling on Quisling "in the name of Jesus Christ" to "stop the persecution of Jews and stop the bigotry that through the press is disseminated throughout our land."
The discrimination, persecution, and ultimately deportation of Jews was enabled by the cooperation of Norwegian agencies that were not entirely co-opted by Nasjonal Samling or the German occupying powers. In addition to the police and local sheriffs who implemented the directives of Statspolitiet, the taxis aided in transporting Jewish prisoners to their point of deportation and even sued the Norwegian government after the war for wages owed to them for such services.
Jews in Norway had been singled out for persecution also before 26 October 1942. They were the first to have radios confiscated, were forced to register and have identification papers imprinted, and were banned from certain professions. However, it was not widely considered that this would extend to deportation and murder. It wasn't until the night of 26 November that the resistance movement was mobilized to rescue Jews from deportation. It took time for the network to be fully engaged, and until then Jewish refugees had to improvise on their own, and rely on acquaintances to avoid capture. Within a few weeks, however, the Norwegian home front organizations (including Milorg and Sivorg) had developed the means to move relatively large numbers of refugees out of Norway and also financed these escapes when needed.
The State Railways' role
Bjørn Westlie says that the "Norwegian State Railways transported Jews to the outward shipping from the Oslo harbor (...) the NSB employees did not know what fate awaited the Jews. Naturally they understood that the Jews would be shipped out of the country by force, because the train went to Oslo harbor". Furthermore, Westlie points to "dilemmas [that] NSB's employees found themselves in when the NSB leadership cooperated with the Germans".
Later Westlie said about the extermination of Norwegian Jews: "what else than co-responsible was NSB ? For me, NSB's use of POWs and this deportation of Jews must be viewed as one: namely, that NSB thereby became an agency that participated in Hitler's violence against these two groups, who were the nazism's main enemies. The fact that the pertinent NSB leaders received awards after the war, confirms NSB's and others' desire to conceal this".
The post-war Norwegian government's refusal to finance the return of deported Jewish Norwegians
"When the White Buses travelled down [southward from Scandinavia] to fetch prisoners who had survived, Jews were not permitted on board because they were no longer considered Norwegian citizens, and the government after 8 May  refused to finance their transportation home.", according to historian Kjersti Dybvig.
On 27 May 1995, Bjørn Westlie published an article in the daily, Dagens Næringsliv, that highlighted the uncompensated financial loss incurred by the Norwegian Jewish community as a result of Nazi persecution during the war. This brought to public attention the fact that much if not most of the assets confiscated from Jewish owners during the war had been inadequately restored to them and their descendants, even in cases where the Norwegian government or private individuals had benefited from the confiscation after the war.
In response to this debate, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice on 29 March 1996, named a commission to investigate what was done with Jewish assets during the war. The commission consisted of County governor of Vest Agder, Oluf Skarpnes as its chair, professor of law Thor Falkanger, professor of history Ole Kristian Grimnes, district court judge Guri Sunde, director at National Archival Services of Norway, psychologist Berit Reisel, and cand.philol. Bjarte Bruland, Bergen. Consultant Torfinn Vollan from the Skarpnes's office acted as the commission's secretary. Of the commission's members, Dr. Reisel and Mr. Bruland had been nominated by the Jewish community in Norway. Anne Hals resigned from the commission early in the process, and Eli Fure from the same institution was named in her place.
The commission worked together for a year, but it became apparent that were diverging views on premises for the group's analysis.
- The majority focused its effort on arriving at an accurate accounting of the assets lost during the war using conventional assumptions and information in available records.
- The minority, consisting of Reisel and Bruland, sought a more in-depth understanding of the historical sequence of events around the loss of individual assets, as well as both the intended and actual effect of the confiscation and subsequent events, whether the owners were deported, killed, or escaped.
By all accounts, the commission had difficulty unifying these views, and on 23 June 1997, two separate reports were submitted to the Ministry of Justice. After considerable debate in the media, the government accepted the findings of the minority report and initiated financial compensation and issuing a public apology.
Assessment of financial loss
The Nazi authorities confiscated all Jewish property with an administrative penstroke. This included commercial property such as retail stores, factories, workshops, etc.; and also personal property such as residences, bank accounts, automobiles, securities, furniture, and other fixtures they could find. Jewelry and other personal valuables were usually taken by German officials as "voluntary contributions to the German war effort." In addition, Jewish professionals were typically deprived of any legal right to practice their profession: attorneys were disbarred, physicians and dentists lost their licenses, and craftsmen were locked out of their trade associations. Employers were pressured to fire all Jewish employees. In many cases, Jewish proprietors were forced to continue to work at their confiscated businesses for the benefit of the "new owners."
Assets were often sold at fire sale prices or assigned at a token price to Nazis, Germans, or their sympathizers.
The administration of these assets was performed by a "Liquidation board for confiscated Jewish assets" that accounted for the assets as they were seized and their disposition. For these purposes, the board continued to treat each estate as a bankrupt legal entity, charging expenses even after the assets had been disposed. As a result, there was a significant discrepancy between the value of the assets for the rightful owners, and the value assessed by the confiscating authorities.
This was further complicated by the methodology employed by the legitimate Norwegian government after the war. In order to restore confiscated assets to their owners, the government was guided by public policy to alleviate the economic impact on the economy by reducing compensation to approximate a sense of fairness and finance the reconstruction of the country's economy. The assessed value was thereby reduced by the Nazis' liquidation practices and was further reduced by the discounting applied as a result of governmental policy after the war.
Norwegian estate law imposes estate tax on inheritance passed from the deceased to his/her heirs depending on the relationship between the two. This tax was compounded at each step of inheritance. As no death certificates had been issued for Jews murdered in German concentration camps, the deceased were listed as missing. Their estates were held in probate pending a declaration of death and charged for administrative expenses.
By the time all these factors had had their effect on the valuation of the confiscated assets, very little was left. In total, NOK 7.8 million was awarded to principals and heirs of Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis. This was less than the administrative fees charged by governmental agencies for probate. It did not include assets seized by the government that belonged to non-Norwegian citizens, and that of citizens that left no legal heirs. This last category was formidable, as 230 entire Jewish households were killed during the course of the Shoah.
Education, remembrance and research
Since 2002, Norway has commemorated International Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January. In 2003 Norway became a member of IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) and served as Chair in 2009.
The first Holocaust-related monument in Norway was inaugurated in Trondheim in 1947.; in later years, monuments in Haugesund (to commemorate Moritz Rabinowitz), at the pier in Oslo from which the Donau sailed, at Falstad, in Kristiansund in Trondheim (over Cissi Klein), and at schools have also raised the awareness. Snublesteiner ("stumbling stones") have been placed in many Norwegian streets outside the apartments where the holocaust victims lived before deportation.
- On Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2012, prime minister Jens Stoltenberg expressed regret "that Norwegian citizens aided in the arrests and deportations of Norwegian Jews". [Around] the same time, National Police Commissioner Odd Reidar Humlegård said to Dagsavisen that "I wish to-, on behalf of Norwegian police—and those who participated in the deportation of Norwegian Jews to the concentration camps—express regret".
- In 2015 the chief of public relations of the Norwegian State Railways, Åge-Christoffer Lundeby, said that "The transportation of Jews that were to be deported and the use of POWs on the Nordland Line is a dark chapter of NSB's history".
Emergence of literature about the Holocaust in Norway
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2014)
The literature since then can be categorized as follows:
- Comprehensive historical accounts of the Holocaust in Norway, which include Abrahamsen 1991 and the first 336 pages of Mendelsohn 1986, but also monographs such as Jan Otto Johansen (1984) and Per Ole Johansen (1984)
- Books that cover specific aspects of the Holocaust, such as Ulstein 2006 about the escapes to Sweden and Ottosen (1994) about the deportation, or Cohen (2000)
- Case studies of individuals and families. Some of these are biographical, such as Komissar (1995), Søbye (2003),
- In-depth studies on specific issues, such as Skarpnesutvalget (1997) and Johansen (2006)
One issue that has been highlighted is the hypothesis that many Norwegians viewed Jews as outsiders, whose fate was of no direct concern to Norwegians.
The Norwegian Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities has facilitated research about the holocaust, and the institute has published the findings. The Falstad Center at the former site of the Falstad concentration camp provides another forum on humanitarian aspects of the German occupation. Jewish museums have recently been established in Oslo and Trondheim, and there have been notable papers written within criminology about the legal purge in Norway after World War II.
The author of a 2014 book (Den største forbrytelsen) received the Brage Prize. The book received great reviews, but also criticism from historians at Jødisk Museum in Oslo—Mats Tangestuen and Torill Torp-Holte—for losing sight of important nuances in the portrayal of who were helpers and who were violators.
In 2011, historian Odd-Bjørn Fure said that most of the Norwegian research on the Holocaust and World War II is being conducted by the Norwegian Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities (HL-Senteret).
In 2014 Jahn Otto Johansen said that "the Norwegian Cabinet [in exile] in London, and Milorg's leadership, as well as large parts of Norwegian society, did not particularly care about the Jews. There is agreement about this among seriøse historians. - I can refer to [the book by] Samuel Abrahamsen Norway's response to the Holocaust. I cooperated closely with" him "and discovered how many worked against his project because the [Norwegian] Cabinet [in] London's-, Milorg's- and Norwegian society's alleged positive attitude towards the Jews, was not to be doubted".
In 2014 author Marte Michelet said that more research is needed about "What role did the Jewish networks have in organizing the flight[s of individuals]? Who was responsible for the warning[s], and who did the warning reach? - We know little about the money involved in the trafficking of refugees. To what degree did helpers receive payment, what sums were to be paid, and how did that play a role in who was able to flee, and who was not able to flee?"
- "The Jewish group in Norway in 1941-1942 consisted, prior to escape and deportation, of 2173 persons. The majority of these came to the country around 1905. Between 1918 and 1940 additional Jewish refugees from the continent were added to this group, see the majority's report chapter 3.1. In all, 530 persons were not Norwegian citizens. Of these, 290 were stateless." From Skarpnesutvalget (1997).
- Bare en detalj - Hvorfor lurer så mange på om jeg er jøde? [Only a detail - Why do so many wonder if I am a Jew?]
- These numbers do not include Jewish Soviet or Polish prisoners of war that died in captivity as a result of murder or mistreatment in Norwegian camps, nor Allied Jewish soldiers killed in action in Norway. There is some evidence that prisoners of war who were found to be Jewish were singled out and were abused. Mendelsohn 1986.
- Kronikk: Frontingen av «Den største forbrytelsen» gir en Holocaust-historie uten nyanser [Op-ed: To front the book The greatest crime, gives a history of the Holocaust—without nuances]
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Norway, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005460
- 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.
- Dag Roard Fosnes (2006). "Politiets rolle i det norske Shoah" (in Norwegian). University of Bergen Faculty of Law. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
- Espen Søbye (2000). "Et mørkt kapittel i statistikkens historie" (PDF). Statistikk og historie (in Norwegian). Oslo/Kongsvinger: Statistics Norway: 117–135.
- In August of the same year, radio confiscation orders were extended to all Norwegian civilians. According to Ringdal (see bibliography), it is thought that targeting Jews gave the authorities a "trial balloon" both for identifying Jewish individuals and confiscating radios.
- Røde, Gro (March 2005). "Folkeregister i gale hender?". Tobias - journal of the Oslo City Archives (in Norwegian).
- Halvor Hegtun (27 February 2015). NSB sa ja til slavedrift - Disse russerfangene ble tvunget til å bygge Nordlandsbanen. Så skulle de glemmes. Aftenposten A-magasinet. p. 26. Archived from the original on 1 March 2015.
- Austad, Lene. "He was never invited to anyone; "Us" and "Them" in the Man Who Loved Haugesund". Dictum. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- "Ephraim Wolff Koritzinsky". Safon (in Norwegian). Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
- Komissar, Gerson (1997-08-24). "Den oversette premiss" (in Norwegian). Dagbladet. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- Reitan 2005.
- Mendelsohn 1992.
- Edgar Brichta var nazisjefens jødiske fostersønn
- Quislings hønsegård
- Det siste vitnet
- Ottosen (1994)
- Pryser, Tore. "Mange varslet jødene" [Many warned the Jews]. Aftenposten. Retrieved 2014-11-22.
- Den allvitende forteller - Etter hvert som beretningen skrider frem er det ikke lenger mulig å skille mellom det som redelig er hentet fra andre – og der annenhåndskilder tendensiøst tilpasses forfatterens eget foretrukne narrativ om krigen. [The all-knowing narrator- As the narration proceeds, it is no longer possible to differentiate what is appropriately fetched from others - and where annenhåndskilder (or secondhand sources) are tendensiøst fitted to the author's preferred narrative about the war.]
- Dypvik, Astrid Sverresdotter (2006-11-24). "Ei ubehageleg historie" (in Norwegian). Morgenbladet. Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
- Per Ole Johansen (December 2000). ""Politiet har fortsatt et renommé å ivareta" - Arrestasjonene og deportasjonen av norske jøder høsten 1942". Festskrift til Victor Lind (in Norwegian). Kulturnett. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- Ulstein 2006, pp. 236-69.
- Mendelsohn 1986, pp. 224-5.
- Abrahamsen 1991, pp. 137-9.
- Norwegian government (1998). "11.6 Illegal motstandsvirksomhet". NOU 1998:12 (in Norwegian). Norges offentlige utredninger. Archived from the original on 30 March 2010.
- Abrahamsen 1991, p. 10.
- "Brev til Quisling vedrørende jødeforfølgelsene 1942" (in Norwegian). Kirkehistorisk arkiv ved Norsk Lærerakademi. Retrieved 2011-09-12. Those who signed included members of the Interim Church Leadership (Den Midlertidige Kirkeledelse) – Ole Kristian Hallesby, Ludvig Hope, Henrik Hille, James Maroni, Gabriel Skagestad, Wollert Krohn-Hansen, and Andreas Fleischer (Eivind Berggrav, Bishop of Oslo, under house arrest by the Nazis, could not sign); the administration of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo – Sigmund Mowinckel, Oluf Kolsrud, Einar Molland, H. Ording, and P. Marstrander; the administration of the MF Norwegian School of Theology – Olaf Moe, Karl Vold, Andreas Seierstad, and Johannes Smemo; various other Lutheran organizations, the leaders of the Baptist church, Missionary association, Sunday School union, Methodist church, Missionary alliance, and Salvation Army. The group was later driven underground when Hallesby was arrested by the Nazis in May 1943.
- Westlie, Bjørn (2008-05-24). "Hun kom for sent til Auschwitz" (in Norwegian). Oslo, Norway: Dagens Næringsliv. p. 46.
- Bjørn Westlie (6 March 2015). "Å fortie historien". Klassekampen. p. 19.
- Guri Kulås (2015-02-27). "Fleire bøker viser korleis offentlege etatar og private selskap tente på den tyske okkupasjonen av Noreg: Slavane som bygde Noreg". Klassekampen. p. 21.
- Halvor Hegtun (27 February 2015). NSB sa ja til slavedrift - Disse russerfangene ble tvunget til å bygge Nordlandsbanen. Så skulle de glemmes. Aftenposten A-magasinet. p. 31. Archived from the original on 1 March 2015.
- Historiker forventer holocaust-unnskyldning
- A telling example is the case of Per Kjølner, a member of Nasjonal Samling who bought at a heavily discounted price the Plesansky family's apparel operations in Tønsberg, which formed the basis for the chain store Adelsten. The one surviving family, Bernhard Plesansky, tried to recover his property but was unable to and emigrated to the United Kingdom. Kjølner was never convicted of any crime. See Jahnsen, Lasse (1997-06-19). "Adelsten må ta sitt ansvar" (in Norwegian). Dagbladet. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
- Various calculations estimate the capital depletion during the war at about 10%. In addition, scarcity in the global economy complicated import and export activity. Rationing continued in Norway until 1961.
- – Skamplett for rettsvesenet
- Halvor Hegtun (27 February 2015). NSB sa ja til slavedrift - Disse russerfangene ble tvunget til å bygge Nordlandsbanen. Så skulle de glemmes. Aftenposten A-magasinet. p. 32. Archived from the original on 1 March 2015.
- Det angår også deg [It concerns you too]
- Månedens gjenstand i januar [Item of the month, for January]
- Madsen, Per Anders (1 December 2006). "Holocausthjelperen som gikk fri" (in Norwegian). Aftenposten. Archived from the original on 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-02-22. - "The acquittal [of Rød] was possible because Rød's victims, the Norwegian Jews, were separated from the national community that was consolidated by the post-war trial. They didn't belong to the big we - neither before, during, or after the war .... the Rød decision is low point for the rule of law, Fure points out. This is the case also for a society that more often than ever must ask itself what terms such as 'Norwegian,' 'multicultural, and 'national community' actually mean."
- Midttun, Lasse (28 November 2014). "Skottelåven og holocaust". Morgenbladet. p. 48.
- "- Så dere er bortimot alene om å drive forskning på andre verdenskrig og Holocaust? - HL-senteret utfører det meste av forskningen som foregår innen dette felt." Archived 30 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Jahn Otto Johansen (2014-11-06). "Jødene ble ikke prioritert!" [The Jews were not prioritized]. Aftenposten. p. 11.
- Kronikk: Nye briller på Holocaust - Den kritiske undersøkelsen av jødedeportasjonene fra Norge er bare i sin spede begynnelse. [Op-ed: A new outlook on the Holocaoust - Discriminative research on the deportation of Jews from Norway, is in its infant stage]
Works about the Holocaust in Norway
- "Historikk jøder fra Agder" (in Norwegian). Stiftelsen Arkivet. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2008. The article depicts the fate of Jews in the Agder counties.
- Abrahamsen, Samuel (1991). Norway's Response to the Holocaust: A Historical Perspective. Holocaust Library. ISBN 0-89604-117-4. One of two comprehensive treatises on the Holocaust in Norway.
- Berman, Irene Levin (2008). Flukten fra Holocaust (in Norwegian). Oslo: Orion. ISBN 978-82-458-0865-0; the history of the Holocaust against the background of the author's memories of her own escape into Sweden. Published in English as: "'We Are Going to Pick Potatoes': Norway and the Holocaust, The Untold Story" (Hamilton Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7618-5011-3).
- Bruland, Bjarte (1995). "Forsøket på å tilintetgjøre de norske jødene" [The attempt to exterminate the Norwegian Jews]. University of Bergen (academic thesis).
- Feinberg, Kai; Stefansen, Arnt. Fange 79018 vender tilbake (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN 82-02-15705-6. Personal account of survivor Kai Feinberg, with historical notes by Arnt Stefansen.
- Gerstenfeld, Manfred. "Norway: The Courage of a Small Jewish Community; Holocaust Restitution and antisemitism: An interview with Bjarte Bruland and Irene Levin". Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved January 2008. Check date values in:
- Hegtun, Halvor (2004-10-31). "Auschwitz er en del av livet" (in Norwegian). Aftenposten. Retrieved 2008-01-21. A newspaper article about a return to Auschwitz by Norwegian survivors.
- Johansen, Jahn Otto (1984). Det hendte også her (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN 82-02-09894-7.
- Johansen, Per Ole (1984). Oss selv nærmest: Norge og jødene 1914-1943 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyyldendal. ISBN 82-05-15062-1.
- Komissar, Vera; Sundvor, Bjørg (1992). Nådetid: norske jøder på flukt 1942 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-17170-2. It is about twelve case examples of Norwegian Jews who escaped and survived.
- Komissar, Vera; Nyrønning, Sverre; Paltiel, Julius (1995). På tross av alt: Julius Paltiel - norsk jøde i Auschwitz (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-26086-1. It is about the story of Julius Paltiel, who survived deportation and imprisonment in Auschwitz.
- Lyngvi, Arne (2005). Fordi de var jøder... Da Holocaust rammet noen medmennesker i Bergen og Hordaland (in Norwegian). Bergen: Sigma forlag. ISBN 82-7916-035-3. It covers specifically the Jewish population of Bergen and Hordaland affected by the Holocaust.
- Michelet, Marte (2014). "Den største forbrytelsen" [The greatest crime].
- Norwegian Government (1997). Inndragning av jødisk eiendom i Norge under den 2. verdenskrig. Norges offentlige utredninger (in Norwegian). Oslo: Statens forvaltningstjeneste. ISBN 82-583-0437-2. NOU 1997:22 ("Skarpnesutvalget"). Retrieved 2008-01-16; report from the governmental commission on the confiscation and disposition of Jewish assets. An English translation of the full minority report and a summary of the majority report was published by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 1997, but without the ministry's insignia or an ISBN registration. It was titled "The Reisel/Bruland Report on the Confiscation of Jewish Property in Norway during World War II," and is commonly known as the "blue book" and is on file at the Norwegian Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities.
- Ottosen, Kristian (1994). I slik en natt - historien om deportasjonen av jøder fra Norge. Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-26049-7; on the deportation of Jews from Norway to concentration camps, including case studies.
- Sachnowitz, Herman; Arnold Jacoby (1978). Det angår også deg (in Norwegian). Stabekk: Den norske bokklubben. ISBN 82-525-0544-9. - an early personal account of a survivor's experiences.
- Savosnick, Robert; Hans Melien (1986). Jeg ville ikke dø (in Norwegian) (2nd ed.). Oslo/Risør: Cappelen (1st), Aktive Fredsforlag (2nd). ISBN 82-92627-00-6.
- Søbye, Espen (2003). Kathe, alltid vært i Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Oktober. ISBN 82-7094-926-4.
- Ulstein, Ragnar (2006) . Jødar på flukt (in Norwegian) (2nd ed.). Samlaget. ISBN 82-521-6988-0; on the escape and underground railroad to Sweden, including case studies.
Works about the Jewish minority in Norway
- Mendelsohn, Oskar (1969). Jødenes historie i Norge gjennom 300 år: Bind 1 1660-1940 (in Norwegian). Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 82-00-02523-3.
- Mendelsohn, Oskar (1986). Jødenes historie i Norge gjennom 300 år: Bind 2 1940-1985 (in Norwegian) (2nd ed.). Universitetsforlaget. pp. pps 13–262. ISBN 82-00-02524-1. A comprehensive treatment of the Holocaust in Norway.
- Mendelsohn, Oskar (1992). Jødene i Norge: Historien om en minoritet (in Norwegian). Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 82-00-21669-1.
- Reisel (editor), Micha (1992). Du skal fortelle det til dine barn: Det mosaiske trossamfund i Oslo 1892-1992 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Det mosaiske trossamfund i Oslo. ISBN 82-992611-0-4.
- Reitan, Jon (2005). Jødene fra Trondheim (in Norwegian). Trondheim: Tapir akademisk forlag. ISBN 82-519-2044-2.
Works about Norwegian World War II history
- Cohen, Maynar (2000). A Stand Against Tyranny: Norway's Physicians and the Nazis. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2934-9. It is about the resistance network organized by Norwegian physicians.
- Grimnes, Ole Kristian, ed. (1984). Norge i krig (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-11144-0. A comprehensive, 8-volume survey of the war in Norway, organized by topic.
- Johansen, Per Ole (2006). På siden av rettsoppgjøret. Unipub. ISBN 978-82-7477-233-5. - A series of interdisciplinary works at the University of Oslo on bias in the Legal purge in Norway after World War II.
- Books by Kristian Ottosen:
- O., K. (1989). Natt og tåke : historien om Natzweiler-fangene (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-16108-1. It is about the Nacht und Nebel prisoners in the Natzweiler concentration camp, with an emphasis on the Norwegians held there.
- O., K. (1990). Liv og død : historien om Sachsenhausen-fangene (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-16484-6. It is about the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
- O., K. (1991). Kvinneleiren : historien om Ravensbrück-fangene (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-16791-8. It is about the Ravensbrück concentration camp, primarily for women.
- O., K. (1993). Bak lås og slå : historien om norske kvinner og menn i Hitlers fengsler og tukthus (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-26000-4. It is about the deportation and imprisonment of Norwegian men and women in prisons throughout Germany.
- O., K. (1995). Nordmenn i fangenskap 1940-1945 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 82-00-22372-8. It is an authoritative list of Norwegian individuals who had been held in German captivity during World War II.
- Ringdal, Nils Johan (1987). Mellom barken og veden: politiet under okkupasjonen. Oslo: Aschehoug. ISBN 82-03-15616-9. It is about the role of Norwegian police during the occupation.
- «Holocaust i Norge», from Store norske leksikon (Norwegian)
- «Deportasjonen av de norske jødene», from the website norgeshistorie.no (University of Oslo) (Norwegian)
- Norway at European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI)