Norwegian monarch commemorates WWII liberation / News / The Foreigner

Norwegian monarch commemorates WWII liberation. Norway’s HRH King Harald V and dignitaries gather in Northern Norway’s Finnmark to remember the Red Army driving back Nazi Germany’s troops 70 years ago. Soviet troops crossed the border into Norway on 18th October 1944. This was 11 days after starting their counter-offensive (the Petsamo-Kirkenes Offensive) against the Wehrmacht in the Arctic region’s northern Finland. Nazi Germany’s troops’ strongpoint - a key point in a defensive fighting position which anchors the overall defence line - was 70 kilometres (about 43 miles) north of Russia’s Murmansk. They were pushed back into Norway from Petsamo (now Pechenga).Scorched earth

wwii, norway, russia, redarmy, wehrmacht



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Norwegian monarch commemorates WWII liberation

Published on Friday, 24th October, 2014 at 23:05 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 25th October 2014 at 00:34.

Norway’s HRH King Harald V and dignitaries gather in Northern Norway’s Finnmark to remember the Red Army driving back Nazi Germany’s troops 70 years ago.

Soviet soldier and Norwegian boy
A Soviet soldier holding a Norwegian boy in his arms in 1944, Northern Norway.Soviet soldier and Norwegian boy
Photo: NTB War archives/Norwegian National Archives


Soviet troops crossed the border into Norway on 18th October 1944. This was 11 days after starting their counter-offensive (the Petsamo-Kirkenes Offensive) against the Wehrmacht in the Arctic region’s northern Finland.

Nazi Germany’s troops’ strongpoint - a key point in a defensive fighting position which anchors the overall defence line - was 70 kilometres (about 43 miles) north of Russia’s Murmansk. They were pushed back into Norway from Petsamo (now Pechenga).

Scorched earth

German withdrawal from Finland, 1944
German withdrawal from Finland, 1944
James F. Gebhardt, 1948/Wikimedia C.
Kirkenes was liberated on 25th October, . It was the first Norwegian town to be freed from the German occupation of Norway. This happened over six months prior to the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Three days later, on 28th October, Adolf Hitler ordered the southwards evacuation of the population of Finnmark and Troms County’s northern parts. While this operation involved some 75,000 people, one-third of them hid in hillside huts and caves after refusing to follow the order.

Retreating Wehrmacht troops employed scorched earth tactics at the same time as the evacuation on the orders of Adolf Hitler, rendering everything the Red Army could use useless. This included the town of Kirkenes where some 30,000 Nazi Germany troops were originally stationed.

They deployed the area for the battle at the Litza Front, not far from Murmansk, before being pushed back into Norway. Some 20,000 Soviet soldiers fell at the Litz Front.

Solemn

King Harald V of Norway (2010)
King Harald V of Norway (2010)
Tor Atle Kleven/Wikimedia Commons
According to Saturday’s 70 years' commemoration programme, HRH King Harald V will be attending a wreath-laying ceremony at Krigsmødremonument – dedicated to Wartime mother’s efforts for their children and home – in Kirkenes’ main square. The ceremony starts at 10 am local time.

Among other people scheduled to attend are Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende, and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. One minute’s silence will be held as part of the half-hour ceremony, followed by playing of the Russian and Norwegian National Anthems.

At 11 am, both Foreign Ministers will lay a wreath at Russemonumentet. This is a monument to the Red Army soldiers who liberated the Sør-Varanger area in the autumn of October 1944 following the four-year occupation by Nazi Germany soldiers.

Hiding place

Rørbua in 2013, pre-restoration work
Rørbua in 2013, pre-restoration work
Swasah/Wikimedia Commons
1 pm sees the preservation ceremony of Rørbua and the Bjørnevatn tunellen. Rørbua was originally a bathhouse for workers employed by nearby mining company A/S Sydvaranger (now, Sydvaranger Gruve AS), which mined iron-ore. The modern-day company was established in 2007, and is owned by the Tschudi Group.

Felix Tschudi, chairman of the board of Tschudi Shipping, is one of the people who will receive HRH King Harald V, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov. Speeches will be held, and both Russian and Norwegian national anthems played.

Bjørnevatn tunnelen (also known as 1944-tunnelen) is located about 50 metres (some 164 feet) away from Rørbua. Up to 3,500 people hid in the tunnel during the battles between Nazi German and Soviet Red Army troops in Sør-Varanger.

Many people began to come into the tunnel around 14th October. People settled in places on makeshift wooden floors, had their pets, winter clothing, and other things they needed with them. They did not know how long they were going to stay there while the battles raged outside.

"You're free"

Norwegians coming out of their hiding place near Kirkenes after liberation
Norwegians coming out of their hiding place near Kirkenes after liberation
NTB War archives/Norwegian National Archives
At 2:15 one morning, four Red Army soldiers stood at the mouth of the tunnel. They told the people in the tunnel to “raise the Norwegian flag – you’re free”. 10 children were born in Bjørnevatn tunnel.

Saturday 25th October 2014 at 2 pm will see HRH King Harald V and Prime Minister Solberg meet five of those born in the tunnel under the Second World War, according to the official programme.

They will also meet people including witnesses from that period, and some young descendants of those who stayed in the tunnel. Moreover, dinner for everyone who stayed in the tunnel will be arranged.

(Sources: The Royal Palace, Norwegian Government, Norwegian Parliament, The Foreigner, Wikipedia).



Published on Friday, 24th October, 2014 at 23:05 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 25th October 2014 at 00:34.

This post has the following tags: wwii, norway, russia, redarmy, wehrmacht.





  
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