The search for Thor

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Search for Thor

Photo: Lily Tofteland Hartmann
It’s uncertain whether the Ida and Lyra Museum is still open or whether its contents have been transferred to the Tirpitz Museum in Alta, Norway. This photo shows the capzised Tirpitz of museum fame—the radio operators “Ida” and “Lyra” were, among other things, responsible for reporting on the movements of German ships during WWII.

Randi Millman-Brown

Thor Jensen, 36, moves from Oslo to Hammerfest. He is promoted to bank manager, becomes engaged, and takes a one-month hiking trip through occupied Finnmark in 1941. By the end of the year, he is dead, leaving behind a mystery, a diary, and many questions. This column chronicles his great niece’s attempt to solve that mystery.

Conducting research online and in a foreign language can be challenging, to say the least. In my previous post, I was hoping to find Thor’s probate records, which I hoped might be available online. I have done some preliminary searching on the Arkivverket Digitalarkivet web site (, both in Norwegian and English, and come up with nothing. Possibly I am not performing the search correctly because I feel as if there must be some record of how and to whom my great-uncle Thor’s items were returned. When I perform a search, I get this message; “This image has restricted access due to privacy policies or other clauses.” Obviously, this is extremely frustrating. It has been 77 years since his death—therefore any scanned records out there should be available.

I have just scheduled my return trip to Norway for the end of July, and I will visit the State Archive in Oslo to try to get one-on-one assistance with the probate archive records. I will also be scheduling visits with Norges Bank and with the National Library to try some different in-depth research tactics to try to locate any information. One thing I have learned in this entire process is to be organized as well as persistent. When emailing the Arkivverket you are unfortunately provided with only one email address for all of Norway’s archives (there are nine of them spread throughout the country) and to be honest, it is very difficult to locate this address online ( In addition, because there is only one email address, the wait time to receive a reply is sometimes months (six weeks, in fact, for one of my inquiries last year).

Luckily, I have received several interesting emails from readers of this column with offers of assistance with my research. The most recent email was from Terje Korsnes, who is the head of the Norwegian Honorary Consulate in Boston, and whose father, grandfather, and uncle were all arrested under suspicion of being in the Ida and Lyra resistance group I wrote about in February of this year ( He is heading back to his home town of Storekorsnes, Norway, later this year and has offered to search in the Ida and Lyra Museum to see if there is any information there of any resistance activities linked to him. As of this writing, it is unclear if the museum is still there or if the contents have been transferred to the Tirpitz Museum in Alta. To be honest, I would not be surprised if all the original material in this museum is missing or unavailable.

Next month’s article should be illuminating.

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Randi Millman-Brown is an art historian, photographer, part-time genealogist, and writer living in Ithaca, N.Y. She can be contacted at

This article originally appeared in the July 13, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Randi Millman-Brown

Randi Millman-Brown is an art historian, photographer, part-time genealogist, and writer living in Ithaca, N.Y. She can be contacted at