“Norway has never forgotten, and will never forget, the contribution our Russian neighbor gave to our freedom. Many hundred Soviet soldiers fell in the battles in Eastern Finnmark in the autumn of 1944. Of the nearly 100.000 soviet prisoners of war that were sent to Norway, more than 13.000 died, and are resting in Norwegian soil.”
“Neither will we forget what the Soviet people did so that the bells half a year later could call across all of Europe, proclaiming that the sufferings of war were over, and that peace again could descend over our continent,” King Harald V said when speaking to Russian and Norwegian guests on the central square of Kirkenes on Saturday.
October 25th marks the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army’s liberation of Kirkenes, the first town in Norway to be liberated from the Nazi German occupation.
King Harald marked the event together with hundres of locals from Kirkenes and the Russian side of the border, including the Governors of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts. Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Foreign Minister Børge Brende represented the Norwegian Government, while Moscow was represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Three words that say it all “On Vestre Cemetery in Oslo, there is a monument like here in Kirkenes, a monument to the Soviet soldiers. The inscription is short. It just says: NORWAY THANKS YOU. They are three simple words. But no more is needed. They cover what we felt then, and what we feel to this day,” King Harald said.
HM King Harald V together with Mayor of Sør-Varanger Cecilie Hansen. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Deputy County Mayor of Finnmark Bente Haug and Mayor of Sør-Varanger Municipality Cecilie Hansen welcoming Foreign Ministers Børge Brende and Sergey Lavrov (Photo: Trude Pettersen)