During the war years
REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS FOR THE GESTAPO
The Gestapo (the German Secret State Police) took over the State Archive in January 1942 and turned it into a regional headquarters. Hauptsturmführer Criminal Commissioner Rudolf Kerner, the head of the German Secret State Police in Kristiansand, led the takeover. A total of around 3,000 German Sipo officials came to Norway during the war. The Gestapo was the executive branch of Sipo and has, therefore, often been used as a term for the entire security police.
ARKIVET was not a prison during the war, but a police station for the German security police. Cells and torture chambers got established, and detainees from all over the region were brought here for questioning. The stay could last from a few hours or a few days up to four weeks. Three hundred and eleven prisoners got tortured at ARKIVET. Most of them were between the age of 20-45. Sipo carried out the violence, but often with Norwegian help. There were about as many Norwegian and German citizens who earned their living at ARKIVET in the years 1942-45.
Ole Wehus, one of the most notorious and dangerous informants in southern Norway. Said during his treason case, "I am 100% sure that everyone who was employed at ARKIVET during the war, somehow had to know what was going on, because sooner or later they could not avoid seeing the prisoners after they had been treated". Norwegian employees also knew what was going on and contributed to the abuse and torture of prisoners, but only Ole Wehus was sentenced to death after the war.
"House of Horror"
During the war years, more than 3 500 people from the region were imprisoned in the building for more than four days. As the Gestapo's headquarter during the war, ARKIVET became a symbol of human contempt and torture. The Gestapo arrested several thousand southerners during the war, suspected of carrying out resistance work. Hundreds were subjected to severe, systematic torture. ARKIVET's reputation as the "House of Horror" and the "Stronghold of Torture" reached far beyond Norway's borders. The prisoners at Grini, the Gestapo prison camp in Oslo, referred to ARKIVET as the country's most notorious place for physical and psychological violence and torture.
Many prisoners were subjected to intensified interrogation, which often began with physical exercises, such as squats, over a long period. After that, the prisoner could be subjected to more brutal methods. The most common forms of torture to which prisoners at ARKIVET were subjected were hard beatings, blows to the face, blows to the butt with a rubber club, wire club, feather club, stick or whip, use of a leg clamp, use of a radiant oven and the "archive rod".
In total 162 people from Agder got executed or died in concentration camps during the war. These people are today honored by name on a memorial monument placed by the entrance to ARKIVET Peace and Human Rights Center. In the corridor located in the stairs just inside the old main hall, you find the memorial corridor. Here are the names of the 3545 people that walked up these stairs and into captivity during the war. Along the two walls hang 14 boards with names in alphabetical order. This memorial was established in connection with the official opening of ARKIVET in 2001.
Among the Gestapo headquarters established in Norway, ARKIVET is the only one that has been conserved. Its appearance today is almost authentic to the way it looked during the war years.
Resistance Members in Captivity
More than 44,000 Norwegians were imprisoned during World War II, in camps and prisons in Norway, and various types of camps and prisons spread over large parts of the world. On a national basis, around 9,000 Norwegians were sent to concentration camps and prison cells abroad. From the Agder counties, 730 people were involved. They were to be completely isolated from the outside world and disappear without a trace in "night and fog".
Right outside the old entrance in Vesterveien 4 is a bust of Arne Laudal. Major Arne Laudal was a district leader for Milorg in the south of Norway. Milorg was the military resistance movement in Norway during world war II. He participated in the fighting in southern Norway in 1940 and organized Milorg in the region in 1941. Laudal was arrested in his home in December 1942 and send to ARKIVET. During interrogation at ARKIVET, he was subjected to horrendous torture, and in 1944 he was sentenced to death and shot in Trandumskogen.