DECEMBER 5, 2018

Work sometimes gets in the way of writing. So does trying to obtain information without getting replies. So does procrastination.

I have continued to write on yellow legal pads, although it has been sporadic. I guess part of me wanted more concrete information before really continuing with writing - at least that is what I tell myself. My latest column for the Norwegian American newspaper (see: https://www.norwegianamerican.com/heritage/the-search-for-thor-7/) outlines many, if not all, of the sources I have consulted over the last 2 years. I am sure I have missed something.

I have applied for another grant from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and will be applying for NEA Creative Writing grant as well. Hopefully this might give me the opportunity to travel back to Norway to do actual “creative writing” instead of focusing only on research.

Photos below: Norges Bank (building Thor worked in); View of Drammen; Cafe in Oslo; Book: Norges Bank during the Occupation

JULY 31, 2018

Today I spent 5 hours perusing materials I had pre-ordered to have pulled for me from the National Archive in Oslo (https://www.arkivverket.no/om-oss/besok-oss/riksarkivet-og-statsarkivet-i-oslo). I took a lot of photographs of pages that might have some interesting information - but I will have to translate both Norwegian and German text when I return to the US. I looked at hundreds of pages of documents stamped with the word "Geheim":  Secret.

At the of the day I went back to the Airbnb to rest, and consolidate papers and notes. (I might add the temperatures here in Oslo are stifling hot/humid and since there is no air-conditioning or fans, the archives were really hot). I decided to treat myself to a foot massage at a wellness center nearby. When I was done and paying, I struck up a conversation with the receptionist. Turns out this was a very interesting conversation.

First of all, her mother's name is Randi. Second, her brother's name is Thor.  Third, her mother is the exact same age as my mother - and both grew up during the occupation of Norway. Her mother and grandparents story is a bit different however from my family's. During the war the Nazi's took over her grandparents home in order to turn it into a hospital. Their family had to flee the town at that point - parents and 7 children. When they returned after the war, they encountered a horrific scene at home. Because it had a been a brutal winter and the home had been used as a hospital, they discovered severed fingers, arms, legs and more in the straw where the wounded had slept. Her grandmother had to clean out all of the gruesome remains before they could move back home. In addition, after standing outside and looking at the sea (it was a coastal town which I leaving nameless for now), her grandmother noticed something odd about the shoreline.  When she went to investigate, she found the shoreline was nothing more than dead bodies all along its edge.

View of Sognsvann area outside of the archives, Oslo

View of Sognsvann area outside of the archives, Oslo

JULY 29, 2018

BACK IN NORWAY

I was very lucky to secure funding to be able to come back to Norway for another week of research (and visiting family in Drammen first). Tomorrow I will head to Oslo to conduct research at the National Library, the National Archives, Norges Bank and the Resistance Museum (not all in one day).  I rented a nice Airbnb in the posh embassy area of Oslo (I didn't realize this at the time) and hopefully the weather will have cooled down a bit. Norway and Europe in general has been in the grips of a heat wave - they haven't had rain in Norway since May and everything is very dry - my cousin's lake at the tourist cabin she manages has gone down 50 centimeters. 

Old Norges Bank (in doorway of the modern Sparebanken building)

Old Norges Bank (in doorway of the modern Sparebanken building)

Also, last night walking back to the hotel from Anchas Bodega, I found this doorway: 

 

View of the fountain in the public square at the train station, from Baker Hansen Cafe, Drammen

View of the fountain in the public square at the train station, from Baker Hansen Cafe, Drammen

Since I have hit several snags along the way in terms of my research, this trip I have several goals. 

  1. Visit Norges Bank and find out who manages the archives (they might all be on vacation)
  2. Go through records I have requested to see at the National Archives - I couldn't see any of the files online as I need to be in the country to access them
  3. Revisit the Resistance Museum to see if I missed any details about the Norwegian resistance movement during WWII
  4. Conduct research at the library  - not sure what I will find here but perhaps I will get lucky