500 teachers from all over Norway were sent to Kirkenes in 1942 after refusing to teach the nazi curriculum. Photo: Arkivverket.no
This week Kirkenes and the Norwegian Union of Education mark the 70 years anniversary of the internal exile of 1100 teachers who refused to teach Vidkun Quisling’s Nazi curriculum during the Second World War.
The autumn of 1940 teachers were required to join the Nazi teachers’ organization. Of Norway’s 14 000 teachers 12 000 protested openly and resigned their membership in the unions.
In March-April 1942 over 1100 teachers were arrested and sent to different camps in Norway. 500 were sent to Kirkenes, where they were placed in provisional camps and forced to work in road construction for the German occupants.
The Department for Education was forced to declare that the Teachers’ Union should be a non-political organization and most of the teachers were sent home in the winter of 1942.
During their stay in Kirkenes, the teachers, who were to be called “Kirkenes Teachers” received help and moral support from the local population. In spite of the hard work, terrible living conditions and small food rations, only one of the 500 teachers died while imprisoned in Kirkenes.
In 1952 the Kirkenes Teachers gave the population of Kirkenes, which had been totally destroyed during the war, a brand new library as a sign of their gratefulness for all the help they had received.
In connection with the anniversary, the Norwegian Union of Education and Kirkenes Library will be organizing lectures and an exhibition of drawings the teachers made while imprisoned in Kirkenes.