D-Day Anniversary Special:
In commemoration of World War II and the Holocaust
The complexities of the heroism, the horror, and the legacy of the Second World War, illustrated in three stories of Norway.
⁓The Voice before the Void
“Carl Fredriksens Transport”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Carl Fredriksens Transport was the code name for an operation during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany to help Jews and other persecuted Norwegians escape persecution, deportation, and murder in death camps. The name of Carl Fredriksens Transport was based on the name of the exiled Norwegian king Haakon VII, who was Carl, son of Fredrik, but also sounded like a common Norwegian name.
The Nazi regime in Norway implemented its part of the Holocaust through a series of steps, starting with registration, then confiscation, internment and concentration, and ultimately deportation of Jews, primarily to Auschwitz. Some Jews had fled Norway to Sweden earlier in the war, but most had stayed in their homes until October 26, 1942. At that point, most men were arrested and detained in prison camps, while women and children were ordered to report to the nearest police station on a daily basis.
The escape operation
Although the Norwegian resistance movement had maintained a network of escape routes to Sweden, they were unprepared to deal with the urgent plight of Jews who faced deportation. In addition, simultaneously with the arrest and deportation of Jews in 1942, the Gestapo launched an offensive to identify and apprehend members of the Norwegian resistance. This put pressure both on the viability and capacity of existing escape routes.
Carl Fredriksens Transport came into being when four Jewish Norwegians appeared on the doorstep of nursery owner Rolf A. Syversen, asking for help. Through one of the leaders of the military resistance group Milorg, Ole Berg, Syversen contacted Alf Tollef Pettersen, who had been fired from the Norwegian police force for refusing to pledge loyalty to the Quisling regime. Pettersen was intimately familiar with the roads from Oslo to the Swedish border.
What started with a few nighttime drives turned into a large-scale operation. The group accepted all refugees, but charged those who could afford it 180 kroner. In time, the civilian resistance group Sivorg put its clandestine network and financial resources behind it. Pettersen, his wife Gerd, Syversen, and the resistance leader Reidar Larsen managed the operation. Altogether about 1,000 refugees were moved to safety, of whom approximately 500 were Jewish.
After having found their way to Syversen’s nursery near Carl Berners plass in Oslo, refugees were loaded in the backs of trucks and covered with a tarp. Children were often sedated. Gerd Pettersen forged bills of lading and other necessary documents. Sivorg’s network along the route monitored German and border police patrols.
The route varied somewhat, but would typically end up near Orderudseter, just a few hundred yards short of the Swedish border. The refugees would walk this last distance.
The operation started in late November 1942. About ten truckloads a week went to the border and back in the dark of night, mostly with headlights off. By mid-January, the network had been infiltrated by Norwegian collaborators and had to be shut down. The Pettersens made a successful dash for the border in a sedan, breaking an axle just as they crossed into Sweden. Rolf Syversen stayed in Oslo, and was later arrested for an unrelated matter. He was executed at Trandumskogen in November 1944.
Although this was the largest rescue operation in Norway during World War II, it was virtually unknown for decades. In order to maintain operational security, the refugees were not aware that they were part of a larger scheme, and their rescuers’ identities were kept secret in any event. Ragnar Ulstein, a historian who specialized in the stream of refugees from Norway to Sweden, uncovered the most important features during an interview with Alf Tollef Pettersen. The Oslo Jewish Museum continued the research started by Ulstein and interviewed Gerd Pettersen before she died.
In September 2010, a commemorative plaque and cast-iron truck were unveiled at the turn-off to the private road that led to the Swedish border.
A bicycle ride named after the operation takes place in mid-August from Fetsund along the original route to the border crossing with Sweden.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Feldmann case (Feldmannsaken) was a controversial criminal case in Norway in which two border pilots admitted to killing an elderly Jewish couple during their escape from the Holocaust in Norway, and stealing their money. A jury acquitted the two of culpability for the killing, accepting their explanation that the couple endangered not just the mission but the viability of the escape route to Sweden.
On October 22, 1942, a train on Østfoldbanen included ten refugees bound for Sweden, of whom nine were Jewish. Also traveling were two border pilots, Karsten Løvestad and Harry Pedersen, both of whom may have been wanted by the occupying authorities. Between Skjeberg and Døle stations, Norwegian police came through the cars inspecting identification cards. The border pilot Løvestad and two of the Jewish refugees, Hermann Feldmann and Willy Schermann, were asked by a committed Norwegian Nazi policeman to step outside their cabin.
Løvestad, who was carrying a forged passport, shot the policeman. The three then jumped off the speeding train. Feldmann broke an arm in the fall. The trio evaded capture for some time, but were eventually caught in one of the largest police campaigns in the war. Feldmann, Schermann, and the other Jewish refugees were murdered in Auschwitz in August 1943. Løvestad was executed in September 1943 after appearing before a tribunal without the benefit of a defense.
The Nazi authorities made propaganda out of the incident. Newspaper headlines portrayed it as a cold-blooded murder of a faithful public servant at the hands of Jews. The policeman’s funeral was attended by the top echelon of both the German and Norwegian Nazi authorities. Well-plated editorials called for decisive action against Jews.
Rakel and Jacob Feldmann
Hermann Feldmann’s foster parents were Rakel and Jacob Feldmann. Unnerved by the publicity this incident had caused, they had decided to make their own break for the Swedish border. They showed up at the farm of the Løvestad family in Trøgstad on October 23, asking for refuge and help to find their way across the border. As the area was still subject to surveillance and search by police forces, the Løvestad family was under significant pressure and risk of discovery.
The couple stayed hidden in the area for a few days, until two border pilots – Håkon Løvestad and Peder Pedersen – offered to conduct them across the border. The couple borrowed clothing and footwear for a two-day hike. But when the company of four arrived at Skrikerudtjernet, the border pilots clubbed the Jewish couple to death, stole their money, and sunk the bodies in the lake with weights.
Løvestad fled to Sweden wearing Feldmann’s gold watch. Pedersen returned to his home and resumed piloting refugees across the border, including several Jews.
Trial and verdict
The Feldmanns’ bodies eventually floated to the surface and were discovered, and investigations led to the prosecution of Løvestad and Pedersen. The matter came to trial in 1947. Although the two accused did not deny that they had killed the couple and taken their money, they claimed they had no real choice in the matter: the Feldmanns were old, overweight, and incapable of the long walk to the border. They were bound to be discovered where they were, and their arrest and detention would bring down the underground railroad, endangering many more lives than theirs.
The two were acquitted of killing the couple but were convicted for stealing their money, which amounted to 12,000 Norwegian kroner, and their possessions.
During the debate surrounding the verdict, Oskar Hasselknippe, a resistance leader during the war and the editor of a leading Norwegian newspaper, challenged Leo Eitinger’s criticism of the verdict, pointing out that in war, difficult decisions sometimes have to be made. He implied that Eitinger would not understand this, asking Eitinger where he had been during the war. To which Eitinger replied: “In Auschwitz!”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Leo Eitinger (1912 December 12 – 1996 October 15) was a Holocaust survivor and Norwegian psychiatrist who studied late-onset psychological trauma amongst Holocaust survivors, of whom many — like Paul Celan and Primo Levi — committed suicide due to Holocaust trauma, several decades after the experience, towards late adulthood.
Eitinger was born in Lomnice, Moravia, at that time a town in the Austrian-Hungarian empire, currently in the Czech Republic. He studied medicine at the Masaryk University of Brno, graduated in 1937, and was drafted as an officer into the Czech Air Force. In 1939 he fled Nazi persecution of Jews and came to Norway as a refugee with the help of Nansenhjelpen. Upon arriving in Norway, he arranged for Jewish children to escape from Czechoslovakia to settle in the Jewish orphanage in Oslo. He was given permission to work as a resident in psychiatry in Norway in Bodø, but the permission was revoked by the Nazis after they invaded the country in 1940.
During World War II
Eitinger stayed underground from January 1941 until he was arrested in March 1942. He was imprisoned in various places throughout Norway before being deported on the ship Gotenland on February 24, 1943, arriving by train at the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where the number 105268 was tattooed on his arm. He was later moved to Buchenwald. Of the 762 Jews deported from Norway to German concentration camps, only 23 survived – Eitinger was one of them. After returning to Norway he specialised in psychiatry.
In 1966 Eitinger was appointed professor of psychiatry at the University of Oslo and became head of the university psychiatric clinic.
After the war, Eitinger allocated his time and efforts to the study of human suffering with emphasis on clinical psychiatry, in particular victimology and disaster psychiatry. He conducted several landmark studies about the long-term psychological and physical effects of surviving extreme stress and being a refugee.
When the World Health Organisation published its new classification of mental disorders in 1992 (ICD-10), it included a category called “Enduring personality change after catastrophic experience,” a diagnostic concept based on the work of Eitinger.
Leo and Lisl Eitinger devoted their lives to the promotion of human rights and the fight against injustice and racism. The University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award — the Lisl and Leo Eitinger Prize — is named in their honor.