Arkivet was the Gestapo headquarters in Southern Norway from 1942-45. The building was used as a police station, which included prison cells. Brutal interrogations took place daily at Arkivet. Around 3600 men and women from Agder were arrested and imprisoned from 1940-45. Close to 3000 of them first encountered the Gestapo in Kristiansand, where prisoners were held alternately at the county prison and Arkivet.
Nationwide, around 9000 Norwegians were sent to prison, jail or concentration camps in other countries, including 730 persons from Agder. Most of them were Nacht und Nebel prisoners. They were to be cut off entirely from the outside world and disappear without a trace ‘by night and fog’.
No fewer than 125 prisoners were sent from Arkivet via Grini to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in the Alsace region of France, 71 of them comprising the first transport with Norwegians, who arrived at the camp on 15 June 1943.
When we 71 Southern Norwegians from ‘Laudal’s Group’ arrived in Natzweiler on 15 June 1943, we were the first group of condemned prisoners sent to the newly established NN (Nacht und Nebel) camp. Most of us were in the military and this fact – together with our Nordic size and appearance – attracted quite a bit of attention on our arrival.
- Osmund Faremo, Valle
Illustrator and ad man Rudolf Næss (1914-2003) was imprisoned in Natzweiler from 1943 as a Nacht und Nebel (NN) prisoner. He survived captivity and was rescued by the ‘White Buses’ organised by the Swedish Red Cross in 1945.
After the war, Næss drew 39 images that illustrate various aspects of life as an NN prisoner. His pictures have become a symbol of Norwegians in German captivity. A visual testimony, they give a voice to those who were condemned to disappear into oblivion.
Rudolf Næss’ illustrations have been collected in an album entitled NN under SS. This album is part of the Norwegian legacy documents, established to preserve and highlight unique and irreplaceable documents. The register is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The album is owned and kept by the National Library, while the usage rights belong to the Norwegian Natzweiler and Dachau Committee, which assisted in the development of this exhibition. June 1943.
A total of 504 Norwegian prisoners were held in Natzweiler in France, 224 of whom died during transport or in the camp, including 75 persons from Agder.
During the five years of occupation, 162 persons from Agder died in German captivity. Their names are honoured in the ARKIVET memorial stone commemorating the fallen from Agder during World War II. The names of the Natzweiler prisoners and the rest of the around 44,000 Norwegians imprisoned by the Germans during the Second World War are now compiled in the national database Fanger.no. The database was developed by the ARKIVET Peace and Human Rights Centre in collaboration with the Falstad Centre.