treatment of the Russian prisoners of war,
entirely on who ran the camps.
In Lofoten it was the Wehrmacht (the German army)
who mostly ran the camps.
But even the conditions could vary, depending on the
attitude of both officers and soldiers.
We know of a young girl from Svolvær who was
imprisoned for three months just for giving her lunch
box to a prisoner of war. Even in Lofoten the treatment
of the prisoners could be harsh.
problem was the nazi-ideology. Compassion for what
they called the "untermensh" was considered
to be a weakness. This was demonstrated to the fullest
by the SS. During the evacuation of northern part
of Norway (Finnmark) in the fall of 1944, one of the
"Führer befall" (Hitlers order) was
that no compassion was to be shown for the population.
merciless attitude led to man y situations that even
had consequences years after the war. This is one
story. A working detail was returning to camp after
hard labour at a fish factory in Svolvær. One
of the prisoners was waking about 70 meters in front
of the guard and the rest of the group. He had to
pass two persons from Svolvær in deep conversation
with each other.
the Russian approached the two locals, he slowed down,
maybe in a slight hope they would give him some thing,
anything. For some reason, one of the two carried
bread under his arm which he gave to the prisoner
who quickly hid it under his ragged jacket. "What
are you doing"? says the other one. "Did
you give the prisoner bread"? "Are you mad"?.
"Take it back immediately" "Say he
stole it! Oh my God, here comes the guard. You'll
get us both sent to prison. Take it back, I implore
you". "No" , answered he who gave away
the bread. "He shall keep it, and you will calm
down, or else
." the German guard approached
with suspicion, and the prisoner was obviously nervous
as he somewhat understood the discussion between the
two Norwegians. When the guard approached, the Russian
prisoner started to pull away, finally joining the
other prisoners. The German soldier sent a suspicious
look toward the two civilians, but passed with the
rest of the work detail behind him.
must be out of your mind", said the one who wanted
to retrieve the bread from the prisoner. "Don't
you know what this could bring upon us"? "We'll
talk about this later", said the one who gave
away the bread.
many years passt before the two finally met again.
The gentleman who gave away his bread moved to Oslo,
and by pure coincidence the two of them met one day
in the capital of Norway. After a bit conversation,
they began talking about the times of war, and eventually
the bread-giver touched upon that episode.
you remember that you wanted to take away the bread
I gave to the poor creature"? The other one claimed
a sudden lack of memory about the incidet. "But
you must remember" said the bread-giver. "I
don't want to talk about this" pleaded the other
one, obvious wishing for a change of subject. The
giver of the bread quietly left the table. They never
met again, and for various reasons did not wish to
illustrates that actions, or no actions at all, led
to consequences between people long after the war.