From Otto's autobiography here is an excerpt from 1940.
On the evening of April 8, 1940, we were sitting listening to the radio. Bad weather outside. The news told about a German ship that had been sunk off the south coast with a number of young men and horses from the wreckage. The British had put out mines at several strategic places along the west coast it make it difficult for the German freighters to carry Swedish iron ore from Narvik to Germany. Of course the German invasion had been planned long before that. We really didn't know what was going on. Neither did the politicians and the military.
We awoke early on April 9th. Heard strange noises. As soon as it got light we saw German warships in the fjord. Soon after the airplanes were coming over. There was some shooting. Suddenly the cruiser Kønigsberg opened fire, shooting at both the forts in Bergen, Kvarven and Hellen. It was noisy, the ship laying right outside our house. The clock on the wall stopped. Soon we had Norwegian soldiers around the house, but in a few hours Bergen was taken over by the Germans and the Norwegian collaborators. I went to school. The family ended up in Fyllingen with a cousin of Mother's, not far from home. Everybody was leaving town, and rumors were flying.
After a few weeks we went back. I went back to school and Audun took the entrance examination also to the Technical School. I graduated #2 in the chemistry class, out of nine. Audun would start in the Fall. He would go to the Civil Engineering class (Vei, vann og bro)*. Mother and Kaare stayed in Lonevaag. Kaare even started going to school there and became #1 in reading and writing. "Listen to him!", said Mr. Vassenden, the old schoolmaster.*
The War Years 1940-1945
I had just graduated from Technical school. Jobs were hard to get in the chemistry department. So I started working in the Ship Yard at Laksevaag. Worked in the Electrical department and did overtime on the floating dry dock on weekends.. Good money, working straight through from Friday evening to Monday morning just checking the transformers that they didn't get warm. I was also sometimes the interpreter between the Norwegians and the Germans on the dock. Those German sailors were mostly "good guys", just caught up in a crazy war.
In April of 1941 I got a job at Fleisher's Kjemiske Fabrikker.. The name was changed just after I joined from Norsk Kjemisk & Fargefabrikk. It was mainly a paint factory and products connected with that. My good friend Arne Thorsen who had graduated a year earlier from the Technical School also worked there. We became the best of friends, and I always visited with him and his family after I went to the States. He died suddenly on Christmas day in 1987.
My starting salary was 200 kroner/month, and after 3 months I got a 50 kroner raise. About another 3 months I got another 100 kroner raise, a fairly good salary at that time (note: about $43.00/ month).
I worked in a laboratory. The chief chemist was Dr. Paul Borinski. He was about 60. Had managed to get out of Germany with nothing. The Nazis had taken all their belongings. In the Fall, Odd Heggelund joined us. He was just out of the Institute in Trondheim.
Having lost the supply of linseed oil on which our plant functioned we got into the "Ersatz" or substitute business. Made a good living out of it, since there was nothing else. We made paint from sulfite waste from the paper mills and we used fish oil instead of linseed oil. The paint looked good, but almost never dried. However, we still had a quota of soybean oil which we used for cooking, some potato starch, and 100 liters of denatured alcohol every month. Most of that we distilled, purified and used it for trading on the black market.
We wanted to get Dr. Borinski to England, but he thought he was too old. Then in the Fall of 1942 he and all the Jews who hadn't managed to escape were sent to Germany and only a few survived.
The factory was making money and I got to work with Odd Waardal who joined us in 1943. I worked with him and we synthesized dyestuffs and textile chemicals wanting to get into that business after the war.
*(Road, water and bridge)
* Otto was born in 1920, Audun in 1922, and Kaare in 1929
More to follow at some point.