Finnmark Celebrates Liberation from Nazi Occupation with the Help of Russians

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Norwegian King, prime minister and foreign minister and the Russian foreign minister will attend to the celebration.

Kirkenes was the first Norwegian town that was liberated from the German occupation on 25th October 1944 after a heavy fighting. 

The Nazis carried out a forced evacuation in Finnmark and North Troms before the Soviet forces came and liberated the northernmost parts of Norway. 

Approximately 25 000 people defied the order to evacuate and remained in the region, while around 50,000 were forcibly evacuated. More than 300 people died as a direct result of the forced evacuation and winter conditions. 

Talking to Dagbladet, local historian and author Arvid Petterson describes the events a very traumatizing experience for the locals. 

– Thousands of homes, barns and outbuildings, industrial, business and fishing gear were destroyed or burned down. Many saw their homes burned down. There were values that were built up over generations. In many ways it was a culture destroyed, says Petterson to Dagbladet. 

Viktor Kukusjkin was one of the Soviet troops who arrived at the mines in Bjørnevatn, south of Kirkenes. Over 3,000 Norwegians had stayed in one of the mining tunnels while the war raged. 

– The Norwegians were waving flags, and I remember well that they poured out of the tunnel, he says to NRK. 

Soviet forces remained in Eastern Finnmark in less than a year before they withdrew. 

Many of the children who were born in the tunnel have been invited to the event in Bjørnevatn. 

The celebration coincides with the coolest relationship between Norway and Russia since the Cold War, because of the crisis in Ukraine. Norway has suspended its military cooperation with Russia, and both countries have introduced trade restrictions against each other. 

Nevertheless, Norway is represented by King Harald, Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Foreign Minister Børge Brende during the main event. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is representing the Russian side. 

Russia’s Consul General to Kirkenes, Mikhail Noskov thinks the commemoration of the liberation anniversary will play an important role in relations between Norway and Russia. 

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