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Among the Hyperboreans: Yugoslav prisoners in Norway 1942-1945
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History, The Hugo Valentin Centre. (Balkan Studies Research Group)
2019 (English)In: Forced Labour in Serbia: Producers, Consumers and Consequences of Forced Labour 1941-1944 / [ed] Sanela Schmid and Milovani Pisarri, Belgrade: Center for Holocaust Research and Education , 2019, p. 118-139Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article provides new insights into the violence suffered by more than four thousand Yugoslavs who were deported to Norway by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Placed in labour camps throughout the country, they were made to work under extremely harsh conditions on projects such as road construction and military installations. Particular attention is paid to their interaction with prison guards and to the political conflicts that emerged within the prisoner group. The findings of sociologist Nils Christie on the camp guards are juxtaposed against new sources from Belgrade, which became fully available to scholars in the early 2000s. These new sources show how the camp administrations exploited the terrible hygienic conditions, malnutrition and negative stereotypes about a violence-prone “Balkan culture” to create emotional distance between prisoners and guards. The prisoners complained that they were not given enough food or sufficient opportunity to maintain their hygiene, which they attributed to a conscious policy on the part of the camp administration. Lice infestations, outbreaks of typhus and malaria, combined with extrajudicial executions, not least of prisoners who fell ill, resulted in a death toll of over sixty percent for the Yugoslavs. The Yugoslavs thus suffered among the highest death tolls of any national or ethnic community relocated to Scandinavia during the war. The analysis further deals with prisoner escapes to Sweden, which were often made possible by help from Norwegian civilians. Such experiences contributed to the very positive image of Norway and Norwegians in the witness statements taken by the Yugoslav embassy in Stockholm. These statements also show that the prisoners had a very positive view of how they were treated by the authorities upon arrival in Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Belgrade: Center for Holocaust Research and Education , 2019. p. 118-139
Keywords [en]
Yugoslavia, Second World War, prisoners, concentration camps, Norway, violence
National Category
History
Research subject
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-399676OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-399676DiVA, id: diva2:1378835
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Note

Revised version of an article previously published in Historisk Tidskrift:

Dulić, Tomislav. 2011. "'De plågade oss som om de ville att vi skulle dö': Jugoslaviska krigsfångar i Norge under andra världskriget i ljuset av nytt källmaterial." Historisk tidskrift 131 (4): 745–771.

Available from: 2019-12-14 Created: 2019-12-14 Last updated: 2019-12-16Bibliographically approved

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