HOMERESEARCHFALSTADPolish Prisoners in Norway During World War II

Polish Prisoners in Norway During World War II

Concentration Camp in Falstad

The German army occupied Norway in 1940. Soon after the establishment of the Nazi administration, liquidation of the Norwegian political opposition began. Mass arrests and deportations of the Jewish population were carried out. One of the major concentration camps in the region was the transitory camp at Falstad, near Lavenger.

Between 1941 and 1945, Falstad functioned as a work and prisoner-of-war camp. Around 5000 people were imprisoned or murdered there. Most Falstad victims were Norwegian political prisoners, but other victims included people from Russia, Yugoslavia, The Czech Republic, Poland, and a number of other states. According to historical sources, 102 prisoners were Polish. The majority of Jews in the camp were later deported to other concentration camps on the territories of Poland and the Third Reich.

Falstad Camp has a long history. At the beginning of the 20th century, the main part of this camp was a reformatory for minors. In 1941, it was planned that the main building should be transformed into a branch of the Lebensborn Aryan breeding plan, to promote the increase of birthrates among Aryan women. Apart from providing aid to single mothers, orphans and the pregnant concubines of German soldiers, Lebensborn was the driving force behind the kidnapping of large numbers of „Aryan-looking“ children from territories occupied by Germany. The building in Falstad, however, did not meet the standards of the Lebensborn program and so it was remodeled to serve as the headquarters of a concentration camp.

The first inmates in the reformatory-turned-concentration camp at Falstad were 150 Danish citizens, who built the watch towers and barbed wire fences that would aid in their own imprisonment. Over the course of the war, Falstad executions were carried out in the nearby forest, Falstadskogen. The estimated number of these murders ranges from 150 to 300. Exact numbers remain uncertain because at the close of the war (May 4-5, 1945) camp authorities dug up the mass grave pits where bodies had been thrown after executions, in order to erase evidence of their crimes. Bodies were buried elsewhere or thrown into the nearby fjord.

After the war, the camp was used as a Norwegian prison for Nazi collaborators. Today, the site of the camp functions as a museum for the remembrance of murdered members of the Norwegian resistance movement and all other victims of the Nazi crimes.

The Falstad Camp commanders were, in chronological order: Paul Schöning, Paul Gogol, Scharschmidt (first name unknown), Werner Jeck, Georg Bauer and Karl Denk. Apart from Karl Denk, none were brought to court after the war. The majority of Gestapo and Sonderkommando officers were later sentenced by Norwegian courts.