Languages

New WWII photos and documents released for Liberation Day

Children in a ruined Vadsø after the liberation.

The National Archives of Norway are marking Liberation Day by releasing newly digitalized photos and documents from Northern Norway from the period 1944-1945.

Several of the newly released photos are from Finnmark. Some were taken by the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) during the liberation and evacuation in the autumn of 1944, while others were taken by Marie Lysnes, who worked as a nurse in Finnmark in the spring of 1945 and participated in establishing field-hospitals.

All photos are available at the National Archives’ Flickr account.

“It really appreciate that the National Archives are making these photos and documents available for the public,” says Rune Rautio, who is an expert on WWII history and has collected 21,000 photos from the war, mainly from Finnmark and the Eismeer Front. “Although some of the photos have been published before – at least locally, it is a very nice gesture that they publish them now.”

Rautio says that the documents that were published on Friday are new, and will probably be of interest for many people. “The content of the documents was already known, but I think it will be very useful to have to have them published.”

Among the documents that are published, is the complete trial against Johan A. Lippestad, the Norwegian Nazi Minister of Social Affairs who together with Chief of Police Jonas Lie was in charge of the forced evacuation of the population in Finnmark.

Norwegian officers with skis left by the German forces.

Another document is a draft of an agreement between the governments of Norway and the Soviet Union dated October 1944 on cooperation on the liberation of Northern Norway. The document was classified top secret and signed by Crown Prince Olav of Norway. It puts Norwegian army units and naval forces participating in the liberation under Soviet command and provisioning.

The last published document concerning Finnmark is a note from dated September 1945 where Commander-in-Chiefs on Norwegian and Soviet sides in Finnmark together make an account of the liberation. The document is signed by Captain R. Karlsen, Norwegian Commanding Officer in Sør-Varanger and Colonel P. Lukin-Griege, Soviet Commanding Officer in Eastern Finnmark. It tells how Soviet forces hindered the retreating Germans forces from destroying homes and important infrastructure and saved 20-25,000 people from forces evacuation, how the Soviet forces helped the local population with food and other supplies during the winter of 1944-45 and assisted in rebuilding roads, bridges and the airport.

The 70 years anniversary for the liberation of Eastern Finnmark was marked in Kirkenes on October 25, 2014 with participation of King Harald of Norway, Russia’s Foreign MInister Sergey Lavrov and other officials.