I had lunch with a woman who was a 3-year-old in Norway when the Wehrmacht jackboots first touched down on her beloved town of Flekkefjord. She and her brother Ola were sent off to a remote mountain farm for a few weeks, and Solveig tells me that her very first childhood memory is of sitting in a vehicle as they were riding off, and looking at her shiny red boots.
Upon their return to the town, the children found their school camouflaged and housing enemy soldiers, blackout regulations in place, and their national flag stashed away in the attic. The family home was on a hill and afforded an unimpeded view of the fjord, which was now clogged with U-boats. The garrison commander coveted the imposing house for his own quarters, but eventually gave up on it when neither his car nor a motorcycle with sidecar could climb the hill. (He was not inclined to climb on foot.) Through all of this, Solveig's parents prayed, being devout Methodists since Solveig's grandfather was converted years earlier in a New York harbor. (Wouldn't you love to know this story?)
My lunch companion shared with me about a local who joined the Nazi Party and strutted around town in a black uniform fraternizing with German officers. When the war ended, it was discovered that Gundval Tomstad was actually radioing information to the Allies in London that led to the sinking of the Nazi ship Bismarck.
She told of her teenaged cousins in the Resistance, and of an underground so secretive that neither cousin knew of the other's involvement until after the war. She told of an uncle who ran a shoe factory in Tonsberg and who was forced to make boots for the Nazis. He sent word to the Resistance about the pick-up date, and they blew up the delivery truck.
She recalls hearing the Russian prisoners singing at night in their makeshift lodgings in the basement of the school, and how the locals would toss bits of food over the fence to them, and the inmates would throw back carved wooden birds. Her brother still has one of those birds.
Changing the subject, I asked about her husband (also Norwegian) and she said they have a wonderful marriage and she loves him more now than when they were teenagers. At that point I just had to ask her what the secret of a good marriage is, and she immediately replied, "Don't say anything to him that you will regret later."
Food for thought today from Scandinavia. "Alt for Norge!"