Margrit Rosenberg Stenge was born in Cologne, Germany and escaped to Oslo, Norway with her parents in 1939. The family survived the war, first in hiding in a small mountain village in Norway called Rogne, and from January 1943 until the end of the war in Malmö, Sweden.
In the early summer of 1945 the family returned to Oslo where Margrit finished high school and then attended a commercial college for one year, specializing in languages, before becoming a secretary in foreign languages for about a year and a half.
In August 1951 she and her husband moved to Canada and settled in Montreal. Norway, its people and language have remained very important to Margrit, and over the years she has visited returned countless times.
The project to collect unpublished diaries and memoirs written by Holocaust survivors in Canada was initiated some years ago by Professors Mervin Butovsky and Kurt Jonassohn. They thought it important that these documents be preserved as a valuable part of the historical record because their contents would differ in significant ways from interview testimonies. Some of these differences are explored in a paper.
The collected manuscripts were deposited in the Archives of Concordia University. The location of towns and villages was ascertained by consulting standard reference works. The location of camps was facilitated by consulting Weinmann who identifies over 2,000 camps.
These memoirs are now accessible to interested scholars by consulting the Concordia University Archives.The project Memoirs of Holocaust Survivors In Canada that will enable us to bring these testimonies to a wider audience.
Memoirs of Holocaust Survivors in Canada. Margrit Rosenberg Stenge's story is published by the Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies
"The consummate scholar
of literally everything . ."
Dr. Cohen was honored at home and abroad for his contributions. He was elected to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in Letters in 1982 and was a Fulbright Professor on the faculty of medicine of the University of Oslo, Norway, in 1977.
Based on his interviews and friendships with his Norwegian colleagues, he wrote a book describing the role of physicians in the resistance to Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II. A Stand Against Tyranny: Norway's Physicians and the Nazis was published in 1997 by Wayne University Press.
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Tove Filseth Tau and Haakon Natvig with the author in 1986 in the Tau apartment in Oslo. Photograph: Doris Vidaver
Dr. Maynard M. Cohen - Courtesy: Deborah Vidaver-Cohen and Elena N. Cohen
He was 18 years old and attending the Business College in Sandefjord. His mother Signe, and his two siblings Ivar and Sonja, were thrown out of their home by the Nazis after the arrest of Sigurd’s father and uncle.
Fortunately, they were able to move into the home of a hospitable friend at Bakken, a part of Skien.
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Sigurd Becker - Courtesy Sigurd Becker
"I went to Norway in 1947 to attend the summer program for American students at the University of Oslo’s Blindern campus. It was love at first sight. I was so taken with the country and people I soon decided to skip my next semester at Syracuse University, where I attended college, and extend my stay in Norway. I was interested in journalism. I figured that I would use my time in Norway to do free-lance writing about events in the country.
I soon learned about one such event – Norway’s decision to welcome about 100 Jewish survivors of the holocaust to replace the like number of Norway’s Jewish community lost to Nazi persecution. Stateless survivors in those days were known as DPs – Displaced Persons. The Norwegian government housed the mostly Jewish DPs in a camp north of Oslo.
I visited the camp and found a group of people who looked as though they had been through hell. Which they had. I learned from them that while they liked Norway and were grateful for their welcome, they had no interest in remaining. Their preference, overwhelmingly, was to migrate to Israel. They explained that while they admired Norway, and had encountered no anti-Semitism, they worried what the future would bring. They were confident that whatever obstacles they would find in Israel, anti-Semitism would not be among them. Until then, I had been mildly pro-Israel.
My conversations with the DPS in Norway turned me into an instant Zionist. Their heartfelt view of Israel as a place of security for persons of the Jewish faith resonated with me then and continues to this day. I returned to Syracuse and to a career in journalism, becoming editorial page editor of the Des Moines Register.
I recently turned 89 but still write regularly for my blog, which can be found here. I cherish the time I spent in Norway, and returned for a visit a few years ago. I owe a debt also to Norway’s generosity to Jewish people, and for the insights I gained therefrom. I have my differences with Israeli policy, in particular the policy on settlements in the West Bank. But on the fundamental issue of the necessity for a homeland for Jewish, I owe my wholehearted support to my experience in Norway."
M I N H I S T O R I E
Frisørmester Aleksander (f. 1904) med konen Anna (f. 1906) datteren Ida (f. 1930) og sønnen Arvid (f. 1936)
"Jeg var tretten år da krigen brøt ut i Norge. Jeg hadde mor og far og to yngre søstre. Fars familie, min bestefar og bestemor far og tre brødre var kommet til Norge fra Latvia da far var 10 år. Far var av jødisk ætt, mor var norsk. Som barn vokste jeg delvis opp hos mine jødiske besteforeldre. Jeg opplevde det jødiske miljøet de jødiske høytidene og familiesamholdet. Jeg var sterkt knyttet til mitt jødiske bestemor.
Om morgenen 9 april 1940 evakuerte far oss tre søsken og mor til mors søster på Lørenskog. Tyske fly fløy i lav høyde over lastebilen. Rosa og jeg satt på lasteplanet. Mor og lillesøster Eva satt inne i førerhuset. Vi bodde i Sigurd Lies gate og fra luftvernsbatteriet på Simsen hadde det vært skyting hele morgenen. Vindusrutene hos oss klirret. I det vi passerte Simsen hørtes skyting like ved oss".
Les del I av Sonja Claes' historie her.
"I midten av april 1943 kom mor og Rosa til Stockholm. De fikk også bo hos Helga Waagonæs inntil videre. Frst i mai 1943 kom far. Var han et menneskelig vrak tidligere, var han ikke bedre nå. Onkel Jacob som hadde ligget på sykehus i Oslo kom også til Stockholm. Ingen visste hvordan det var med resten av familien, mor og mine to søstre reiste til Kumla herregård, et mødrehjem.
Vi hadde jo ikke noe sted å bo. Far ble innlagt på sykehus eller rekreasjonshjem. Dette var i midten eller slutten av mai 1943. Selv ble jeg sendt til Småland på frivillig arbeidsinnsats for svensk ungdom. Vi var to norske jenter. Jeg husker overhodet ikke om jeg var med på disse avgjørelsene. Jeg var nok ikke det, vi arbeidet på åkrene, endeløse åkrer skulle lukes. Både åkrene og tiden var endeløs for meg. Jeg hadde liten kontakt med den andre ungdommen. Jeg var kanskje annerledes enn dem? Var jeg redd? Jeg var igjen alene, ensom."
Les historien om Sonja Claes i Sverige under krigen her
"I bakgården - akkurat der det var et lite streif av sol, hadde bestemor en solsikke. Den vokste seg høy i den lille solstreifen.
Men idag, i mai 1945, kl. ni om morgenen var det ingen solsikke. Fra stuevindet hørtes ingen samtale på jiddisch."
Ekteparet Sofie og Ruben Claes var begge født i Litauen hvor de giftet seg i 1899. De kom til Norge i 1913 og etablerte seg som torghandlere i Oslo.
Adventures in Freedom - Displaced Persons in Norway
A letter from Norway 1948
It is known that the Norwegian government has taken this matter very seriously. Two years ago they contacted UNRRA and cooperated with organizations like “Ort” and “Joint” and they sent several commissions to Poland as well as to Germany. They brought the immigrants to Norway and the immigrants were helped to establish themselves. The Norwegian government sent for them till now more than 1 million kroner. Accommodations were prepared for them and the majority of the newly arrived are now working and do not make a bad living. Why then are these the “forgotten Jews”?
The Norwegian case is a very special one. Several thousand Jews from the German camps were admitted into Sweden, but only as temporary guests. The Norwegian government made it known that they brought fewer refugees in order to help them establish themselves and that they could be enabled to become citizens of their county.
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Gilbert Cranberg is George H. Gallup Professor of Journalism Emeritus, the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He was associated for 33 years with The Des Moines Register and Tribune where he was editor of the editorial pages of both papers..
He now blogs at
Maynard M. Cohen (1920 - 2014) presented and published hundreds of articles during more than half a century of neurological research.
He authored textbooks and led international symposia, playing a leadership role in the World Federation of Neurology.
In 1996 on a visit to Margrit was given a book by a Holocaust survivor and after reading it she decided to translate it. Since that first book, she has translated the following memoirs:
“Fire and light” (Ilden og lyset) by Herman Kahan/Knut M. Hansson,
“I did not want to die” (Jeg ville ikke dø) by Robert Savosnick/Hans Mien
“Prisoner No. 79108 returns” (Fange Nr. 79108 vender tilbake) by Kai Feinberg.
She has translated several other books about the Holocaust:
“Physician for life” (Lege for livet) by Magne Skjæråsen (co-translated with M. Elron),
“On such a night” (I slik en natt), by Kristian Ottosen
“The women's camp” (Kvinneleiren) by Kristian Ottosen.
She has also translated (from Norwegian):
“Every Second Counts” by Richard Oestermann (true stories from Israel) published by Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem Kristian Ottosen, “Life and death - the story of the Sachsenhausen prisoners” (Liv og död – historien om Sachsenhausen fangene).
Sonja ble født i Oslo 12. mars 1927. Hun var tretten år da krigen brøt ut i Norge. Hun hadde jødisk far og norsk mor, og var eldst av fire søsken. Sonjas besteforeldre på farens side Sonja og Rubin Claes og deres fire sønner var kommet til Norge i 1913.
Besteforeldrene betydde mye for Sonja i oppveksten. De ble sammen med to av Sonjas onkler, en tante, en kusine og to fettere deportert 26. november 1942. Alle åtte omkom i Auschwitz.
Sonja unngikk selv såvidt deportasjonen og flyktet senere med sin lillesøster til Sverige.
On October 26th, 1942, an order had been issued to arrest all Norwegian Jewish males.
Sigurd’s father David and uncle Louis had already been arrested and would later die in the concentration camp Auschwitz.
Sigurd and his younger brother Ivar were the only Jewish males left in the whole county of Telemark.
"The short note on the fate of the Jewish group in Norway made in particular a strong impression.. ."
Vladimir Grossman, 1948
SIGURD BECKER 1924 - 2015
MARGRIT ROSENBERG STENGE
GILBERT CRANBERG -
DISPLACED PERSONS (DP)
IN NORWAY 1947
Part I: Germany
Part II: Ja, vi elsker dette landet
Part III: War and Occupation
Part IV: Sweden
"Some of the homeless and tempest-tossed
continental Jews start life anew in Norway 1947"
Article by journalist students Philip Singer and Gilbert Cranberg.
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