But the day is so much more than that, of course. My thoughts this day may not be so much about the event itself, the liberation of Norway after five years of occupation, as to the individual destinies that stood out more clearly from this day 70 years ago.
A country needs symbols. Whether it is in the form of flags, royal families, medals and anniversaries. Or heroes. We have all heard of Sønsteby, Max Manus, Osvaldgruppen, Milorg, Xu. And of course in the other end, Quisling. Some are more visible than others. Most of the voices have disappeared.
I gave a lecture in Bergen almost ten years ago. Bergen has a war history. Many combatants came from Bergen and the surrounding districts. The battles were fierce and the people of Bergen fought hard and long. Several people lived in the mountains for months on end. Many died and many were injured. I was told that after the war a large part of the Bergen resistance people disappeared to Oslo. The reason was that these were people who had been harmed by their experiences.
Their jobs disappeared, families were dissolved and their dependence on alcohol grew. In Oslo, they could live their lives unhindered in worn-out accommodation and with odd jobs as a livelihood. Brown pubs and like-minded people were the only ones who broke the isolation.
No one took care of them. And in a Norway in liberation intoxication, they became troublesome reminders that war is a damage-producing activity. The treatment of these people was not unique. We all know today how we treated our war sailors, the returned Jews and the Communists who fought hard against the Germans in Norway.
Keep in mind when you see the flags waving. Freedom from Nazism did not come easy.
May 8 has also become Veterans Day in Norway. For that reason, the day means something extra for those like me and others who have served outside the country. We came home, injured and had to fight a long and hard battle for rights and compensation. (A struggle that is still going on.)
My thoughts on May 8 goes therefore to the forgotten resistance fighters from World War II. Those who fought the hardest battle. The real heroes among us. They are in fact the reason why people like me and you live in a free Norway. And a free world. (The picture is of my father and my aunt. My father was taken as a prisoner by Rinnan, a Norwegian Nazi, and tortured by his gang. )
(Or who do you want to be at the age of 96?) Restarting your life (or reinventing it), sounds like an American “pull yourself together”
Everything written in these pages is based on personal experience. Overall, this is the way I remember what happened. And everything, of course, is based on