Leif Grusd at age 20. Courtesy: Leif Grusd
Leif Grusd. Courtesy: Leif Grusd
I was raised amongst a large orthodox family in England, my father Levy Trachtenberg and my mother Jetta, born Hartstein, both came from Russia.
My siblings were three sisters Minnie, Rose and Phyllis and a brother Jack. Besides, I had several cousins and those of my generation were all good friends, we spent our holidays together and actually our lives revolved around one another.
We were an average conventional family, no one ever really strayed from the norm, nobody attained fame or fortune, there wasn’t even a black sheep in the family.
The Second World War changed a lot of lives and no one can foresee what would have been the future in my new country Norway and Trondheim.
As it turned out, I emigrated to Sweden and then America when the Germans invaded our country.
For further reading on Freda's story, please see
Please click on link to watch an interview with Freda Isaksen.
Else’s grandfather, Elias Ramson (1862 - 1941), first came to Norway from Lithuania in 1884, to live with his father in Bodø. Else’s father Benno Ramson was born in Kristiania (Oslo) in 1896.
Like her husband Bjørn, Else Ullmann hasn’t talked much about her wartime experiences, not to her friends, nor to her children.
But in 2009, when three of her nine grandchildren were vacationing in the Norwegian mountains, she felt compelled: “…to try to write down what I remember of what happened to me, my mother and father in those same mountains and at this time some 69 years ago”.
For details on Else and
Bjørn Ullmann's story,
please click here
Ida Ullmann - Courtesy Geoff Ward
Bjørn Ullmann - Courtesy Geoff Ward
"As a young boy, 9 years of age, I found it very exciting to observe the arrival of German soldiers marching through the streets of Oslo on April 9th, 1940. We were, as young boys generally are, captivated by their big boots, their uniforms and the number of soldiers parading through the streets"
The German invasion took the whole nation of Norway by surprise and turned everyone’s life upside down. In 1940 there were 3 million inhabitants. For most Norwegians, the struggle of daily living became most urgent. For Leif Grusd and his family it would be, as it turned out, a story of survival.
Today, Leif Grusd plays a vital role at the Jewish Museum in Oslo and with great enthusiasm. He skillfully communicates through various personal and general stories, aspects of the rich Jewish narrative of a small country and its obvious strong and remarkable impact this minority group has had on the country’s culture and society.
Please click here to read full story
For details on Else Ullmann's story, as told in her own words, please click here
"This particular Saturday I searched through the weekly Jewish Chronicle and saw advertised a dance to be held at Boot’s Café in Regent Street in London. I called a school friend to ask if she would accompany me, she too was alone that evening, so we dressed in our best clothes suitable for dancing. Jeans and T- shirts were not customary in those days, girls wore pretty midlength dresses for an evening out. We boarded public transportation for the ride to the West End and to the dance hall.
When Sylvia Delow and I walked into the elevator to go to the dance on the second floor, two fellows followed us in. Later they introduced themselves as Joseph and Micael. It was Joseph who showed an interest in me that evening. He explained that he was visiting for a few days and staying with Micael who was living temporarily in London. He was unfamiliar with the city and asked me if I would be his escort and show him the famous sights of London.
I was not too favorably impressed with Joseph. He was not a type that I admired physically, and he was too anxious to impress me with his monetary worth. However, I thought that if he was really so well off financially, I might as well take advantage and have a good time for a few days. I really showed him London and spared no expense until he left.
Shortly after, Micael telephoned and asked me to go out with him. Evidently, he had been warned that it was expensive to take me out, so he was wary. On our first date he explained that he was from Trondheim, Norway. He had closed his business temporarily to attend a school for men’s custom tailoring in London. For some unknown reason his funds, left with his brother in order to be sent monthly as an allowance, had not arrived for that month. He was broke and surviving mainly on broken cookies and milk. I felt sorry for him and invited him home for a good meal, which became many good meals. He told my mother that his favorite dish was lokshen kugel, or noodle pudding. He was definitely disappointed.
We dated often, but as he was always broke, our good times consisted of walking around London and the suburbs, which we reached by bus or subway, and drinking cups of tea at Lyon’s Corner House.
"Following a popular Norwegian tradition, the Ramsons, Else, her mother, and father were on Spring-break in the mountains around Easter. From the Høvringen Mountain Hotel they enjoyed long ski tours in the spring sunshine. They had left the younger sister, Sonja, in charge of a relative in Oslo.
Else was six years old and, surprisingly, she had little enthusiasm for her parents’ long ski tours. The reason for her unusual lassitude became clear when a doctor told her that she had chicken pox.
But this was a few days later. Early in the morning on April 9th, a sharp knock on the hotel-room door woke the Ramsons and a voice called for Mr. Ramson to come down to the reception to take a telephone call from Oslo. Else remembers that he rushed to put on his bathrobe and slippers and ran down two flights of stairs to the lobby.
He naturally thought that something must have happened to their daughter Sonja, but no, his brother in-law Leo, over the telephone, had even more troubling tidings: Germany had invaded Norway. German warships had sailed up the Oslofjord during the night and German troops were already marching up the main street of Oslo, Karl Johan street, towards Akershus fortress. War had come to Norway.
Meyer Dvoretsky (1894-1942) bodde utenfor Bonaagården, Brønnøysund kommune, Nordland, fra 1937, hvor han dred med handelsvirksomhet.
Da tyskerne nærmet seg Brønnøysund i 1940 flyktet han nordover.
Like før Tysklands angrep på Sovjetunionen ble han arrestert i Kirkenes.
Meyer Dvoretsky ble deportert med skipet «Monte Rosa» 26. november 1942, samme mørke dag som «Donau» la fra Vippetangen med 532 norske jøder om bord.
Tre måneder senere sendes hans kone Marie og barna Sigurd og Lilly til Auschwitz. Alle fire dør i konsentrasjonsleiren
Iår, 2016, ble det nedlagt en såkalt snublestein av den tyske kunstneren Gunter Demnig i fortauet utenfor huset hvor Dvoretsky bodde i Brønnøysund. Blant de tilstedeværende var Israels ambassadør til Norge Raphael Schutz og Lise Paltiel fra Det jødiske museum i Trondheim.
Tidligere prost på Sør-Helgeland Even Borch har vært støttende til prosjektet. Hans datter Silje Bürgin-Borch har i flere år jobbet med en dokumentarfilm om Dvoretsky. Der har hun blant annet intervjuet Gunnar Aakerøy, som har vage minner av Dvoretsky fra hans tid i Brønnøysund.
Meyer Dvoretsky (1894 - 1942) Foto: Privat
Meyer Dvoretsky født 1894 i Grodno i nåværende Hviterussland. Han bodde i Stavanger rundt 1920, var gift med Marie Shotland og hadde barna Sigurd og Lilly.
Han drev butikk i Stavanger samt iTromsø før han forlot kone og to barn for å drive handel i Nord-Norge.
FREDA (TRACHTENBERG) ISAKSEN
ELSE AND BJ ØRN ULLMANN