NSB absent from WWII exhibition

Norway’s railway missed the railway museum event with information on its dealings with Nazis

Photo: Kommunal- og Moderniseringsdepartmentet / Agnar Kaarbo / NewsinEnglish.no Samuel “Sammy” Steinmann, second from left, took part in the annual memorials on Holocaust Day in January, which this year marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. At far left, government minister Jan Tore Sanner, and on Steinmann’s left, Crown Princess Mette-Marit. At far right sat Annelise Høegh, longtime Conservative policitian.

Photo: Kommunal- og Moderniseringsdepartmentet / Agnar Kaarbo / NewsinEnglish.no
Samuel “Sammy” Steinmann, second from left, took part in the annual memorials on Holocaust Day in January, which this year marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. At far left, government minister Jan Tore Sanner, and on Steinmann’s left, Crown Princess Mette-Marit. At far right sat Annelise Høegh, longtime Conservative policitian.

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

The exhibition, which was inaugurated on May 8, occurs in the year commemorating both the April 9, 1940, invasion of Norway and the Scandinavian country’s liberation on May 8, 1945.

It shows the lesser-known aspects of the railway’s role as the country’s main carrier, as well as the illicit work of many of its employees to assist refugees to get to Sweden, regarding intelligence work and sabotage.

The exhibition also covers NSB’s role helping the Germans. The trains transported foreign POWs to Norway’s Nordlandsbanen, as well as other equipment. Political prisoners, including railway workers who had been arrested, were transported by train for interrogation and torture.

NSB’s train wagons were also used to transport Jews from around the country to Oslo harbor, most of them in sealed wagons with armed guards—people the Norwegian police had rounded up for the Nazis.

532 Norwegian Jews were taken to their deaths to Stettin and Auschwitz on the Germans’ SS Donau in November 1942. Just nine returned to Norway after the war.

“Last living survivor”
Norway’s last Jew who survived Auschwitz, Samuel Leon “Sammy” Steinmann, was one of those aboard the ship. He passed away on May 1, aged 91. His passing occurred just one week before the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Norway.

Among those who attended his state funeral on May 6, at Oslo’s Helsfyr Gravlund, were HM King Harald V of Norway, President of the Parliament Olemic Thommessen, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and Jewish community in Oslo spokesperson Ervind Kohn.

President of Israel Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin sent a letter of condolence to HM King Harald V prior to this.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Samuel Steinmann, the last living survivor of the deportation from Oslo to Poland on the SS Donau,” President Rivlin wrote. “Steinmann, who personally experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, was one of those very few who survived to give living witness to the greatest Jewish tragedy of all times.”

Prior engagement
The Norwegian police and NSB have issued apologies for their part during WWII. Management who worked at the company in the Second World War allowed the Germans to use their knowledge of the railways.

They also contributed in ways that allowed the transport of troops and weapons to proceed according to the Germans’ plans. Many of these senior employees were subsequently highly decorated with Norwegian honors for their efforts.

“The persecution and deportation of Jews is clearly a dark chapter in Norwegian history. NSB’s participation in this story is extremely regrettable,” the company’s Åge-Christoffer Lundeby has told Dagsavisen.

NSB chose not to attend today’s inauguration of the exhibition in Hedmark County’s Hamar, however.
“Our president is on a journey on business to Vienna. I was meant to go to Hamar today, but had to cancel the trip for a meeting that it’s very important I attend,” says Lundeby to The Foreigner.

Exhibition “Mørke Spor, jernbanen og 2. verdenskrig” at the Norwegian Railway Museum in Hamar is open to the public daily from June 6 to August 31 this year. While viewing times are by appointment from then until 2016, the exhibition will re-open for the summer of next year.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the May 15, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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