After Peace

Arkivet was just a little piece in an enormous prison and camp system that Nazis built. For many prisoners in Kristiansand, Arkivet was just the first stop. 1700 were sent on to Grini. Of those, 730 were sent out of the country. 162 of them never came back.

There were particularly many southern Norwegians who ended up in Natzweiler, as so-called Nacht und Nebel-prisoners: They should work themselves to death and disappear without a trace. Nacht und Nebel – Night and Fog – was a decree issued by Hitler on 7 December 1941. Most of the prisoners in Natzweiler worked in the rock quarry. 75 southern Norwegians died in this camp.

Alf Knudsen
I saw several of my friends die. Death came often as liberation. There was usually no agony; they just died in their sleep. The death that came to most of the Nacht und Nebel prisoners was not an evil thing, but generally came as deliverance.”    

The prisoners that survived German captivity came back to Norway strongly influenced by their imprisonment. Life was never the same for them or their families.

 Arne Moi:

A summer is coming to an end. There is already a hint of coolness in the air and people have become diligent and serious again after the period of happiness.
I am reminded of our expectations a whole lifetime ago. Spring 1945. The year of peace. 
The time the war was over and I was going back to life again. I thought.
But we humans are so often wrong.
There is a smudge in the map called Belsen.
I’ve been there as long as I can remember. The barbed wire around the camp won’t let me out.
It becomes increasingly difficult to be there.
And in a while, in a few years it may be that I can’t
bear anymore, and I’ll fall over into the mud.

The long years of war in Norway were replaced by peace during the days of May, 1945. The legal proceedings in Norway became the most extensive in Western Europe. Over 46 000 were sentenced as traitors to their country, and almost just as many cases were dismissed. Everyone who was a member of Vidkun Quisling’s National Unification Party – Nasjonal Samling – was investigated. The Gestapists at Arkivet were arrested and placed in the same cells at Arkivet which they themselves had used for their  interrogation and torture of resisters. There were accusations made against six of the gestapist: Kerner, Lappe, Glomb, Meyer, Willfuhr, and Groman. On the symbolic date of April 9th, 1947 began Agder Criminal Court the extensive court proceedings against the atrocities that had occurred at Arkivet.  More than 300 witnesses were summoned. The charges applied to first and foremost, the crude torture of Norwegians and not the least, the murder of 37 Soviet prisoners of war. 

The Gestapo officers received different sentences depending on the seriousness of their charges. Kerner, Meyer, and Glomb were sentenced to death. Lappe received 18 years, Willfuhr 15 and Groman 12.  All of them, with the exception of Lappe, appealed their verdicts before the Supreme Court. On the basis of, among other things, the uncertainties concerning the Russian murders, the verdicts were reversed. Only Rudolf Kerner’s death sentence stood. In 1949 it was changed to lifelong forced labour. In 1953, however, the last of the imprisoned Gestapists from Arkivet in Kristiansand were pardoned and sent home to Germany.