Sunday, October 4, 2015

The War Years continued

 Otto, Klara, and Audun c.1928

Soon after the invasion, the Germans took over the area north of our shipyard. It was called "Nordavaagen" and they razed all the houses there. Started to build a submarine base with a lot of Norwegian forced labor joined later by Russian prisoners of war. The Russian camp was right in front of our yard, the fence being about 20 feet away. We figured about a thousand of them. They were a miserable looking bunch. The Germans had a camp next door.

On a clear October day (the 4th) in 1944 about 150 allied bombers came over. They hit almost everything around, including the base, but didn't hurt the bunker at all. That was solid concrete and thick.

Our small community lost about 200 people that day. Worst of all they hit the school and wiped out two classes of boys and their teachers, one who was also our neighbor. We lost our home. Salvaged a few pieces of clothing and small things, but all furniture was lost.

Bestefar went to live with his sister, tante (aunt) Oline, Audun to Karla's family, Kaare to tante Ovidia and I to Karl and Anna Hertzwig.

After a few weeks, bestefar was able to get us an apartment in Store Parkvei (I believe #6), which we shared with my cousin Aslaug, Birger, and their son Helge. It was on the fifth floor and we had the most beautiful view especially to the southern part of town. We lived there until the fall of 1946 when we moved back to Laksevaag.

The War is Over

We were living at Store Parkvei. Kaare was confirmed at Laksevaag kirke (church).  We had a good party for him. We had gotten a tuxedo for him somewhere. He looked just great.

During the Spring we knew that the war would soon be over. Audun was involved and so was I in the underground. He worked with Birger Aarli (Aslaug's husband) and I mostly with Karl Hertzwig.

On May 6th Kalle Hertzwig's neighbor came to recruit us for the "liberation". He talked to Bestefar, not to us. Bestefar told him no. The war was over and there was not much sense running around with a gun over your shoulder. So we didn't become big heroes, but were not killed accidentally by the so called underground, most of whom hadn't done a thing. They had more accidents after the war than from fighting the Germans. A good friend of ours was killed by one of them. We were sitting in a room at school where they lived. One guy was pointing a rifle at him. "Put that away," He told him. "it is not loaded," he told him, "I'll show you". He pulled the trigger and blew his brains out.  

Bestefar, Audun, Otto, Kaare after the war


  1. A man of few words, wasn't he? Losing a home, losing that friend, all so senseless and life-changing, in such a condensed account, and so matter-of-fact.

    Four handsome men. And I would guess they each had seen more of life than most young men these days. Do you look like your father or an uncle, Jono?

  2. Fascinating piece of personal history, Jono. Thanks for publishing this.

  3. I found this to be bittersweet.

    Lose everything - survive, then threatened again.

    Glad something good came out of this!(smile).

  4. That laconic style covers so much pain, so much grief, so much fear...
    Probably the only way they could express it.
    Thank you. And him.

  5. This is sad, but so interesting. My ancestors left Norway quite some time before the war.


  6. I have to agree with jenny-o and Elephant's Child comments how a few, sparse words allude to such sad, bitter, long, interesting, sweet, and intense stories behind them.

  7. I am so loving interesting..and oh I love all of your names.

  8. What a great read. Sad, but incredibly interesting. And why, WHY do people with guns always have to insist it's not loaded by pulling the trigger in someone's face? When has that ever ended well?

  9. A peek at humanity within the inhumane context of war. Elegant and horrifying.

  10. Jenn_o, All war is senseless, but sometimes necessary, so they say. I look like my father Otto, mostly.

    Should Fish more, I am so lucky my father wrote all this down.

    Dixie, The best thing was that it ended. It took all of Europe quite a while to recover.

    Elephant's Child, Norwegians are notoriously stoic and reading between the lines is not always easy, but there is a lot there.

    Janie, I am glad they got out, too.

    JACKIESUE, I often ask people about their background when I see an unusual name. I get some fascinating stories.

    PP, I am so proud of my readers to understand so much of what isn't said. You give me hope for the future.

    John, The feeling is mutual, my friend.

    ABFTS,I think the same people often say, "Here, hold my beer and watch this." It rarely ends well, also.

  11. Agi Tater, Not something I would ever wish on anyone.

  12. This is such an amazing and fascinating post. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the photos!

  13. I can't help contrasting Otto's matter-of-fact account of the bombing with the kind of reaction the same events would inspire today. He must have been a fascinating man, and you're so lucky to have his journals!

  14. This is an amazing account of what went on in your father's life as a young man. Those of us who have known peace all out lives find it incredible that he can write it all down, so matter of fact. Thanks for posting this, fascinating.

  15. Finally coming by to catch up on the posts I've missed lately. These posts of Otto's remembrances of the war years are fascinating, especially with his Norwegian tendency to under-react. Thanks for sharing them. I'll try to stay on top of things here a bit better.

  16. I'm sorry you lost a friend so senselessly.

  17. My God, I have no words. Just very grateful you're here.

  18. Linda,Thanks! I like looking at the old photos, too. It is fun to see how that generation looked when they were young.

    Diane, I am indeed lucky. He specifically wrote it all down for my brother and I. What a lovely gift it was.

    Shammickite, I think we are lucky to have been born after that time.

    chlost, Thanks for stopping in. I hope you keep posting on your blog again.

    AlexisAR, That was what my father witnessed. I haven't had to watch anything that senseless except the usual shootings on the news.

    Robyn, I was lucky my parents survived that war and found each other on this side of the Big Pond. While I was conceived in Norway a few years later I was born in the USA making me an anchor baby of sorts.

  19. What a chilling story. Thank you for sharing these snippets from the war years. The placid, kind faces in the picture seem so heroic when juxtaposed against the tumult of their recent experience.

  20. Donna, It is difficult to imagine, after tens of millions died during that war, that many faces I saw growing up had varied experiences in that horror. Most wanted to forget as best they could, pick up the pieces, and get on with their remaining years.

  21. Thank you for sharing. Your father said so much in so few words.