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10/14/2008 -- Norwegian War Hero to Speak at UND
Gunnar Sonsteby --World War II hero, leader of the Norwegian resistance to Nazi occupation, author, and former body guard to the King of Norway-- will give a public talk about his life experiences at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19, at the UND Memorial Union Lecture Bowl.
He will be joined by Ivar Kraglund, assistant director of the Norwegian Resistance Museum, Anne Myklebust, Cultural Affairs Officer for the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Ellen Kolloen from the Chief of Defense Office.
Sonsteby was invited to campus by Gregory S. Gordon, UND professor of law. Professor Gordon is director of the newly established UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies (CHRGS). One of CHRGS’s first projects is to digitize and make available the records of the Nuremberg Trials relating to Norway. The Chester Fritz Library and the English Department are working with CHRGS on this project to make the records more widely known. UND Nordic Initiative is pleased to support this visit and lecture of one of Norway's most distinguished citizens.
UND Nordic Initiative will have a meeting at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Oct. 20, with Ivar Kraglund, Anne Mykebust and Ellen Kolloen at the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center. In addition to the public presentation, members of the Norwegian delegation will participate in Norwegian language classes on Monday.
Please mark your calendars for the talk and the meeting.
Gunnar Sønsteby (b.1-11-18) is a national hero of the Norwegian Resistance movement. Sønsteby was born in Rjukan in 1918 and was a 22-year-old student when the Germans invaded Norway in April 1940. After the invasion, he left school and joined the resistance where he became famous as a master of disguise because of his use of nearly 40 fictitious identities. He worked for an underground newspaper ("Vi Vil Oss et Land" -- "We Want a Country of Our Own"), served as a courier between Oslo and Stockholm and became the British Special Operations executive resident in Oslo.
Sønsteby quickly established a network of safe houses and contacts with most of the resistance circles. He operated under constant changing cover names and made his own identity cards, passports, police badges, official letters, driving permits and attestations of residence in the border area. Late in 1942, he masterminded the smuggling of dies for new printing of banknote from the Bank of Norway to Stockholm and on to the Government in London.
Sønsteby is credited with making a significant contribution to weakening the enemy and setting the preconditions for the liberation of Norway. The Nazis were never able to catch him. His book "Rapport fra Nr. 24" ("Report from No. 24") -- No. 24 was one of his code names -- has been published in several editions, including English, and served as the basis for a documentary series on TV.
Sønsteby is the most highly decorated citizen of Norway in history, being the only Norwegian awarded the War Cross with Three Swords. On May 13, 2007, a statue of him was erected on Solli Plass in Oslo. The statue was sculpted by Per Ung and portrays a 25-year-old Sønsteby standing next to his bicycle. The statue was unveiled by King Harald V of Norway.