The North remembers the feat of Soviet soldiers

A Norwegian visit to mark Russia's role in victory over the Third Reich.

Relations between Norway and Russia do not seem too good-neighborly. At least, this impression develops if you look at the Norwegian media. Experts talk about the threat posed by the Northern Fleet of Russia with its new independent status. Last fall, information about Russian special forces allegedly spotted on Svalbard was actively circulated. Agree, in this kind of publications there is little positive. The approach of the Norwegian government to cooperation with the Kremlin looks even more resonant.

Recently, a parade commemorated in Russia in honor of the anniversary of the victory over the Third Reich. The event, designed to commemorate those who died during the Second World War and demonstrate military power, was not just a pandemic. A dispute arose between Europe and Russia regarding the events of the first half of the 20th century, which provoked the largest conflict in history. Even those countries of Europe whose governments during the war helped Hitler, now blame the unleashing of World War II on the USSR. In Moscow, this expectedly caused a lot of discontent. The parties began to accuse each other of rewriting history. It was clear that Putin would not wait for prominent European leaders at his parade. One can only imagine their hidden joy when the Kremlin was forced to postpone the celebration.

On June 24, the parade did take place. It was visited by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Tajikistan and Serbia. EU politicians remained true to their position, but not Norway.

Murmansk, the northernmost Russian city in the world, also held commemorative events in honor of the defenders of the Polar region. There was also a military parade, although not as large as in Moscow. In Murmansk there is a monument to Soviet soldiers, which reaches 40 meters in height. It was here that the townspeople, military and politicians laid flowers on the pedestal. Among them was Rune Jacobsen, commander of the main operational command of the Norwegian Armed Forces. A delegation of the northern kingdom visited Murmansk to share commemorative events with the Russians.

“I am deeply moved by your tradition to honor the memory of the defenders of the Arctic. Yesterday we visited the Valley of Glory and the memorial of the Norwegian partisans. This made a strong impression on me. Today we saw a parade. Unfortunately, in Norway this tradition no longer exists. They were impressed by the accuracy and coherence, the accuracy of the actions of the military personnel and the passage of equipment, ” Jacobsen said.

As you know, in 1940, Norway was occupied by Germany, and its government fled to London. Hitler deployed a group of German and Finnish troops here. The attack on the USSR from the north began from here, but it was completely stopped not far from Murmansk in December 1941. In the fall of 1944, the Soviet Union launched an offensive. The retreating Germans burned settlements and blew up bridges. Norwegians hid in the mountains and mines, as the population was captured and taken to the west. In the Bjornevattena mine near Kirkenes, 3.5 thousand people were hiding. When it became known that the Nazis were planning to blow up the mine, having buried civilians there alive, the Norwegians turned to the Soviet army for help. At dawn on October 25, the Russians made a march and rescued people.

“The Norwegian people, especially those who live in the north, have a great debt to those who liberated Finnmark in the fall of 1944. Therefore, it is a great honor for me to accept the invitation and come to the parade in Murmansk, ” Jacobsen said.

It is unlikely that anyone in Europe paid attention to this modest but important visit. And it would be worth doing. The Norwegian general in Russia is an occasion to reflect on why the situation in Northern Europe is escalating, why the information background is so different from the actions of the authorities. Norway is a member of NATO and the Arctic state. It is known that the region has recently become a new platform for geopolitical confrontation. But this struggle is unfolding between the USA and Russia. To indulge one of the parties is a dubious adventure, even from the point of view of the NATO country. In Norway, they understand this. They also understand how important it is to remember.

Whatever opinions modern politicians adhere to, they, the author of these lines, and perhaps the reader, could not exist without the sacrifice of Soviet soldiers. To pay tribute to these people is a small and non-burdensome gesture. Because of this, Russian flags will not rise above Oslo. On the other hand, this small gesture is a sign that Europeans and Russians have something in common, uniting. Maybe that is why Jacobsen's trip was left without due attention.

Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.