Interviewee: Tordis Leksen f. Abelvik (Birth year 1924) and Bjarne Leksen (Birth year 1919).
Interviewer: Eva Leksen
This is the interview with the married couple Tordis and Bjarne Leksen.
Under the War did Tordis live in Abelvika, and Bjarne lived on North-Leksa. Under the War, the Germans had a big fortification on the neighbour island, South-Leksa.
THE WAR IS COMING
Bjarne: I waked up of a bang. It was the Germans that were passing Leksa on their way in the fjord, and they were shut on from Agdenes fortress, Hambora. They did fire off 4-5 shot from the fortress, before the Germans passed true and sailed in to Trondheim. On the radio the evening before, we had heard that it was a German boat that had been shut down in Skagerrak. On board it was soldiers and horses. I remember we asked our self where they were on their way to, with horses and soldiers. It was so unbelievable that they was coming here and invaded Norway.
Tordis: The day the War started, should I on first-aid course, together with the midwife up in the school. I didn't realize the gravity about that the War really had started. We heard about it only on the radio, but gradually we did see battles between military aircrafts, and it was also battles out in the fjord. I remember one of the first Sundays after the war started, that it was battles between English and German plains. We did see how the plains did explode over a place called Oeyan.
Bjarne: I did walk up on the hill behind the farm, and while I was there waiting, did it fell down splinter of a grenade straight beside of me. I did dig it up, and it was a half inch thick iron-bit, that still was hot. After that episode I learned to watch out! Up on the hill was it a low cleft. My brother and I did lay boards over it. On top of that, we also had earth and other natural stuff over, so no one could see it. So that was our place, and we did lay there and watched when something happened.
THE DAILY LIFE
Bjarne: Under the war, the daily life on Leksa went as normal as it could. We had a farm, so the rationing wasn’t a very big problem. We also had a boat, so we had enough fish. The Germans bought food from us, mainly eggs and butter. They often used tobacco as payment. They were also starved on animal fat. In Germany had it been rationing for a while already, because everything went to war production. When they arrived here, they did gorge in butter and chocolate. People said they did have butter on both side of the slice of bread. The Germans that was in Norway, had enough of food and they lived as counts.
Tordis: The flour we bought was very poor, and the bread we baked did be like a lump. The only soap that was possible to get, was the B-soap – it was grey in color and skimmed nothing. We didn't taste fruit like bananas and oranges that time. I thought it was bad with the rations, especially on fabric and clothes. In 1939 was I confirmand, and my mum and I traveled to Trondheim to buy silk fabrics to the dress I should wear the big day. It did abound with silk fabrics in the shelves, in every sort of colors and figured silk fabrics.
Then it was an abrupt transition to the War rations. Luckily did everything about and around fashion disappear under the War. On a dress could half of it be in one color and the rest of it in another color. On the upper part could it also be an own color, so it was many strange combinations. I was on a visit to some relatives of me in Trondheim one time under the War. They owned a clothing shop, so I did exchange butter and eggs against some cloths.
Bjarne: My father was educated shoemaker, so he did make our shoes under the War. There wasn't many people that was so lucky.
Bjarne: Baptism, confirmation and funerals went as normal. Weddings was different. Then you had to go to Registry Office first, and then you could have a church wedding. Wedding only in the church, was invalid that time.
Tordis: The woman went to the hairdresser, also under the War. The doctor was just called in special emergency situations. Then you had to be really sick! At that time it was the way that you laid down in bed until you was healthy again. People was more persevering then, than now. The mail did go as normal, but letters could be checked.
Bjarne: The first year after the War had started, I found a bottle message. It was a girl from Trondheim, Brit Maehle, that had throw it out in the sea. We did start to correspond with each other. She went at the gymnasium, and the students wrote long reports of the radio messages from London. She used to hide them inside the weekly paper ”Hjemmet”, and sent them to me. These package did I receive about once a month. Unfortunately the Germans found a letter from me, where I had wrote about some damaged German boats I had seen. That was wrong, so Brit and I did be inducted. We had order to meet on the Evangelistic Hotel in Trondheim. We had to wait out in the hall in 5th floor. But the Germans wanted to have some fun with some girls instead, so they didn't care about us at all. So after a little time, they let us go. After that time we were much more careful. The phone was administrated thru a switchboard on South-Leksa, of Petrine and Trygve Berg. That time you first had to call to them, and they called up and connected you up with the person you wanted to speak with. You couldn't call directly to the person you wanted to talk with, as you can do today. On North-Leksa there were four households that had phone, and each of them had their own call sign. We had two long rings, Anton Leksen had two short and one long, in Heradsvika they had three short, and Jens Elvesaeter had one long and one short ring. It was only one line out/in, and everybody was hocked up to that one. We were on the end of the phone-line, so we could listen to the others conversations if we wanted to.
Tordis: If we wanted to travel into Trondheim, it took very long time. We went on board on the boat in the evening, and arrived Trondheim around 9-10 o'clock the next morning. The boat was stopping on many places on her way. Beyond that we used the bike or walked.
Bjarne: On South-Leksa was it about 60-70 Russian and Polish prisoners that lived in their own barracks in Gangstua (on the west side of Leksa). They worked with building up gun sites and barracks for the Germans. They got very little food, and their clothes were often just some rags. Still the prisoners on Leksa had it much better than prisoners other places. I was to family Berg on South-Leksa and took up potatoes. We used to set out buckets with potatoes when the prisoners came. The prisoners were transported on cars, and when the cars took turns they had to slow down on their speed. Then one of the prisoners jumped out of the car, picked up the bucket, run after the car and got help to get up in the car again of the other prisoners. The prisoners were on Leksa for about two years. Johan Iversen and Odd Fredriksen was caught because they had been on the office to the Germaine Captain. They did be picked up of a boat that carried them to Trondheim. The Germans onboard did be very seasick, so Odd and Johan had to take over the navigation. Johan Iversen was below-sheriff, and had his office in Iversengaarden. The Germane captain rent this, and there he had secret papers and a radio. Johan and Odd walked into his office, and locked the door a day the captain was out in Gangstua. They wanted to listen to radio, but then the captain came back and found the door locked. He did be afraid that they had seen all his papers that were inside there. Johan and Odd jumped out of the window, but was caught. Anton Leksen did sell a”self died” calf to the Germans, and they thought it tasted wonderful. The Germans had big plans on building a fortress on North-Leksa too, and many generals were there and inspected a place called Hest-haugen. They also had plans to build a little railway to Saltvika. But suddenly, the day after they had get the metal for it, was everything over. Everyone did go to Hemnskjela, and on Leksa it was just a few Germans left to watch. This was autumn 1944.
END OF THE WAR
Tordis: I got the message about that the War was over from some friends of me that had a radio. I was very happy when the War was over. To celebrate that the bad times was over, we put the flag up! Beyond that it was no any special celebration. I was 15 years old when the War started, and I thought I had missed so much under the War. It was never any public parties or dances, but we had an old fashioned gramophone up with Litjvatnet. It was there we were dancing in the summers. that was the only thing that did exist of festivities. It was in 1943 it got serious between Bjarne and me. We got married autumn 1946.
Bjarne: You didn't notice the peace that well here on North-Leksa, since it only was two, three Germans left here. But we were happy anyway. A lot of hutments were left after the Germans, and they were sold on auction by the State. Under the War the Norwegian money got out of production/trade, and was replaced by so called ”Quislinger”. It was money of paper. When the War was over, we did get exchange them, and got 40 % back of what they was worth. After about 10 years we got back the remaining 60%.
Tordis: The only thing I thought was terrible wrong, was the treatment of the ”German tart”. I thought it was terrible that they should go close-cropped and be mocked. The only thing they had done was to fell in love with a German. I hope you never have to experience how the circumstances are under a war in your own country.
© Copyright, all text and photo: Hilde B.L. Berg 2007 ©