D - The Memory of War and Occupation

In Norway, as in other Western European countries, the introduction of memory studies into the research on the Second World War has been highly rewarding. Yet, it is possible to identify at least two types of limitations in previous research:

 First, despite the common assumption that the patriotic memory which was prevalent during the first several decades after 1945 was constructed from above, few efforts have been made to establish the exact role of state institutions and elite actors in shaping the Norwegian memory culture. Secondly, the research – in Norway and elsewhere – has tended to be more concerned with official and public remembrance than with popular and so-called vernacular memories. Consequently, both scholarly and popular works have tended to focus too narrowly on the “official master narrative” of the war, ignoring the multiplicity of national memories and the interaction of various, often conflicting, narratives. By adopting new approaches, methods, and sources, this project sets out to overcome these shortcomings and move the research front significantly further.

D1: “Norway’s elites and the politics of memory”

Associate Professor Stian Bones

This subproject will explore the ways in which state institutions and elite actors engaged in memory politics of the war after 1945. Did state institutions directly or indirectly seek to promote a uniform and unifying official narrative, which served to legitimize political rule and the nation-state? If so, who were the main memory agents? What view(s) of the past did they seek to promote and by what means? Did the view(s) change over time? In what ways was the official narrative shaped by gendered assumptions? The subproject will draw particular attention to the role of resistance veterans and the Norwegian military, and intends to compare Norway with other Western European countries. The project will result in one peer-reviewed article.

D2: “Who Let the Germans In? 9 April in Norwegian Memory”

Associate Professor Sigurd Sørlie (IFS)

This project will analyze the heated and recurring post-war debate about the invasion and military defeat in the spring of 1940. At times, this debate has taken on the character of a “stab in the back” legend, in which responsibility for the German invasion has been laid at the door of domestic opponents. By drawing comparisons across time and space, it is the ambition of the project to add to our existing knowledge of “stab in the back” conspiracies. The project, which is partly externally funded, will result in one scholarly monograph.

D3: “Popular Memories of War and Occupation”

This project aims to probe the popular memories of the war and its interplay with official and public memory. To what extent did popular memories correspond with the official memory? If they tended to overlap, is it reasonable to assume that the predominant popular memory was constructed from above? Or should the patriotic memory culture rather be understood as a product of the majority’s actual experiences during the war, combined with shared modes of interpretation? By innovative use of sources it is the ambition of this sub-project to indicate answers to these questions. Among the types of sources that may prove rewarding in this context are collections of essays on the war written by Norwegian school children shortly after the liberation. The position will be announced internationally, and the research will result in one peer-reviewed article.

Externally funded project

D4: “War Memories of the North”

PhD project

This sub-project will explore the national and international memories of the war and occupation in North Norway. It also aims to critically review the widely held notion that North Norway has been neglected in the national memory. The study will be carried out as a PhD project funded by UiT.