Marte Michelet: Finally a book that busts the myth that Norwegian Jews were expelled by the Nazis

Marte Michelet is a historian and a journalist, she has made her debut as an author with a book of outmost importance; tracing what really happened in those dark days when Norwegian Jews were arrested, deported and murdered by fellow Norwegians.

lifted from nrk.no

Norwegian Jews were betrayed by ordinary people
– I tell a part of the story Norwegians have forgotten, says Marte Michelet. She has written the book “The biggest crime,” Norway’s role in the Holocaust.

by Siss Vik
Hilde Bjørnskau

– In retrospect, it has been customary in Norway to assume that no one was able to understand what would be the fate of the Jews that we sent out of the country, says author Marte Michelet.

In the book she tells about the front soldiers, state police and the Nazi bureaucrats who made the Norwegian Holocaust during World War II possible. Although we have had many accounts of the fate of individuals over the years, we have lacked a coherent account of what happened to the Jews, she says.

– This is what I am trying to remedy. Such a book is lacking, says Michelet.

– Knew what happened
Marte Michelet kicks off the book with an incident on the train Østfoldbanen late summer of 1942 when a border guide who accompanied some Jews to Sweden, is shot and killed. Theones who  jumped off the train are chased. This event triggers the action against the Jews in Norway, she writes.

– The situations escalates and creates a vengeance in the Norwegian occupation regime. Now is the time to remove the Jews from Norway. A list over absolutely all Jews in Norway is collated, based on what has already been registered.

The Norwegian State Police, many of whom were fully aware of what has already happened on the Eastern Front. Many Norwegian (East front) fightersparticipated (in the battles on the Eastern Front) and witnessed this prelude to the Holocaust, before they returned to Norway, says Michelet.

– History has been twisted
– This has unfortunately led to a Norwegian occupation history that has been quite twisted. What is important is that we take hold of it and recognize what it was that made the Holocaust possible.

– Norwegians looked the other way when Jews were arrested, everywhere in this country, whether it was the only Jewish family in Årdal in Sogn og Fjordane, or when all the Jewish men in Trondheim were frog marched through the city in early October in 1942, says Marte Michelet.

There were many ordinary Norwegians who called and turned in the Jews. Michelet’s not really very surprised that there were so many informers.

– In a way, it is easy to understand. People were under occupation, and there are lots of police, Norwegian Nazi collaborators, and Gestapo men in leather coats running around on a motorcycle on country roads in Østfold. This must have been very scary. It was not a mood that made it easy for anyone who would want to hide a Jew.

Even so close they were to freedom, across the Swedish border, people were keen to report Jews.

– It is discouraging that no one stands between the occupation authorities and the Jews, and trying to hide them in a potato cellar, says Marte Michelet.
Refused to accept refugees
She believes very few Norwegians are aware that Norway received fewer than 500 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. Several hundred thousand people were trying desperately to get out after 1938.

– The Director General of the Department of Justice in 1938 wrote a recommendation that we ought not receive any Jewish children, because chances are good that we are stuck with them. It is one of the vilest phrases in Norway history, which I have stumbled upon in books for special interests who are furthest behind in bookshelves.

What shocked you the most while working on the book?

– I think it was pretty special to follow the case of chief inspector Johan Söhr from Christiania (Oslo) police; he was chief of the criminal police in the capital for years. He had already in 1917 expressed a pretty clear anti-Semitic attitude.

The most rightist-authoritan parts of the Norwegian police ended up in position of power during the German occupation. This provided them with many opportunities to combat what they perceived subversive elements, ie the Jews.

Found forgotten sports hero

The book revolves around the story of a Jewish family, Braude, who in the early 1900s, settled on Grünerløkka in Oslo. At the same time, we follow Stian Beck jr. who grows up to be a Nazi, and later met Gestapo officer Wilhelm Wagner who was responsible for the Norwegian Jews.

Michelet has based her book on modern research and have gone through both the Norwegian and German archival material to write the book. She discovered the Braude family almost by accident, because she heard about a Jewish national team boxer.

– There are many things we forget, but sports heroes do not go so fast into oblivion. Charles Samuel Braude was Norway’s best boxer from 1935-1940, yet he was forgotten.

This is how she discovered both his and the rest of the family’s history. The younger brother Harry, for example, was arrested as he was about to pursue his acting career.

– In 1939, he played the role of prisoner working in the film “The defenseless”, ie exactly the same fate that awaited him in Auschwitz a few years later.

– It was important for me to find a family that could capture all the important Jewish experiences during the war, namely, flight, deportation and detention. I also wanted to reveal the perpetrators among both Germans and Norwegians, Michelet says was the aim of writing this book.

 

Several other newspapers review the book in this weekend’s editions, all of them praise Marte Michelet for “unfolding our national shame” as Aftenposten puts it.

here is their review of the book (lifted from aftenposten.no, google translate)

Documentary
The greatest crime
Victims and perpetrators in the Norwegian Holocaust
Author: Marte Michelet
Author: Gyldendal
Another book about the war? Yes. Another book about the war.

But this is different than most. It brings not only the exciting tales of heroes and villains, about the horrors and peculiarities that our war literature is full of. Marte Michelet’s book has all this, but in addition she offers overview, context and insight.

And first of all she offers shame. A shame that is common and national, and a special shame reserved for the leaders who then betrayed their ansvar.De people who were participants in the war are dead, but when anti-Semitism constantly sticks its hoof forward, there is no reason to forget fathers’ sins.

Good Norwegians
The biggest crime is first and foremost about the 772 Jews who were deported from Norway. That it was an occupation that was behind this, we know, and there have been a convenient fact to sit in retrospect. The benevolence as occupiers met her project, especially from the Norwegian police,

Charles Braude, the middle of three sons, was one of the best boxers. He avoided deportation and survived the war.
Charles Braude, the middle of three sons, was one of the best boxers. He avoided deportation and survived the war.
PHOTO: Ill. From the book
has been solid under played, although increasingly has come for a day over the last few decades. It is not because, as Michelet argues that the history of warfare in Norway has only been a celebration of heroes. Attention has also been plenty aimed at those who served on the crazy side, without quotes. But the fate of the Jews has been neglected, both before the war, during the war and afterwards. For example, we had one until Bjørn West Lies disclosures in 1995 before it was clear how the Jews were not only killed, but also robbed.
Michelet’s starting point is the story of the family Braude as an immigrant from Lithuania, where conditions have become uninhabitable for Jews. Bezel Braude going to Oslo in 1911, half a year later, his wife Sara. After many years of toil are the two become a family with three adult sons and a daughter, when Norway in 1940 are occupied. They have become what the school system calls vengeance people.

Michelet also takes hold of Stian Bech jr., It must be able to call an apostate son from west edge, which becomes SS soldier on the Eastern Front, and then get a job in the state police, the Norwegian Stapo. The German Gestapo officer Wilhelm Wagner is also equipped with a back story, until he moved in on Victoria Terrace with a special mission to take care of the “Jewish problem”.

Jew Stamp
The outer story should be rudiments for most. With contributions from Norwegian police driver Gestapo detailed survey of Norwegian Jews, while the harassment is steadily increasing. Jews are stamped a red J in their passport, they are deprived of jobs and income. It takes up to 26 November 1942, when the Norwegian police, state police, Hird and SS obtains almost all Norwegian Jews and sending them to Auschwitz. Women, children and older men are killed upon arrival, able-bodied men are being used as slaves in the industry, and after a month’s most gone. 34 of 772 deported Jews survived.

530 Jews were sent to Germany with the transport ship Donau in November 1942. Men, women and children were crammed into the hold, but the end of the journey was even verre.Foto: Georg W. Fossum
530 Jews were sent to Germany with the transport ship Donau in November 1942. Men, women and children were crammed into the hold, but the end of the journey was even verre.Foto: Georg W. Fossum
Among those who otherwise survived was Charles Braude, who was not deported because he was married to an Aryan woman, and therefore put most of the war in the Norwegian hell camp Berg at Tønsberg. Helene Braude fled to Sweden just after the occupation. The other four in the family were thus murdered.
Stian Bech served as torturer and thief. He stole it, he came over Jewish assets, did take over an apartment by Jews who had fled, was arrested in May 1945. He was charged also for contributing to jødedeportasjonene, but there was no significant point during the trial. Conclusion: Lifetime labor, pardoned in 1954.

Wilhelm Wagner was the only one in the Norwegian WWII who was indicted for murder of Jews who were deported. He was sentenced to death in 1946, but the Supreme Court changed the sentence to 20 years of forced labor. He was pardoned and deported in 1951, and lived the rest of his life as a free man in Germany.

Many sources
Marte Michelet has done a great work with this book. Not because she says so much new, but because she compiles information from a variety of sources. She demonstrates how Nazi racial hatred was only secondly by Norwegian benevolence, primarily the police and the justice system. She does not mention the contrast to Denmark, where almost all Jews – 7,000 in total – were rescued to Sweden. Only a few hundred were deported, and most survived.

Above all, she pulls a lot of information about the persecution of the Jews, she connects the Norwegian attitudes to the rest of Europe, and demonstrates how harassment and deportation largely Norwegian initiative.

Michelet is largely based on evidence from historians, but she provides no dry account. The text is characterized by a commitment and, in some cases, an approach that does not quite hit. But no one can read this book without known heart. Let us hope it does something to the thinking.

1 comment for “Marte Michelet: Finally a book that busts the myth that Norwegian Jews were expelled by the Nazis

  1. motti
    October 26, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    An excellent piece of writing and an interesting article. Two points must be made.
    Firstly, when one looks a the difference between the terrain of Denmark with that of Norway, only then can one really appreciate the difference between the two countries.
    Denmark is open and flat with almost a virtual acceptance that it is so difficult to hide anyone.. with that of Norway, mountains and forest, vastly under populated with lots of places to hide oneself.
    Little Denmark showed such compassion, bravery humanity and a love and respect of human life, regardless of the religious or cultural background of those to be saves. Even when the surviving Jews returned to Denmark, local Danes were overjoyed to receive the their former friends and neighbours back. Even returning their property, whether it was a home, money, or jewellery. Yes some Danes did help only because there was monetary gain. but at least they still accepted the danger to be paid for their labour.
    Now contract all this with Norway Apart from the Norwegians underground who were extremely brave, I look to ordinary, run of the mill Norwegians. Very few tried to help their former friends and neighbours to hide or escape. They watched instead the people they had known for years be picked up in the middle of the night to be sent away, with the majority not returning. Even when they did return, when attempting to reclaim their property, this was refused and were told just be grateful that you are still alive..
    When one considers this with the compliance of the police and judiciary,, one accepts that Norway was no different to those countries in eastern Europe which practised such Jew hate. There, too, Jews were shunned, with former friends and neighbours turning on them, with Communist Poland practising a pogrom and further massacre of Jews.
    So what is the conclusion? With the long self serving Norwegian establishment which has practised, and encouraged Jew hate and loathing of Israel, there is no doubt, that Norway would be no different today than it was in the 1940’s How proud these people must be and what pride they have in knowing that if they had the chance again to betray the Jews to another Holocaust, they would do so without another thought. After all, they are so keen to extol the blood libel of the Jewish genocide against the Arabs. Thank God, I was not born in Norway, nor live in such a disgusting country.

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