Figur av SS-Scharführer Walter Kunze, en fryktet fangevokter. Foto: Øivind Bakken/MiA

These are the characters we are working on for our first National Episode, Grini’s Futures:

– Einar Gerhardsen – Prime minister 1945-’51, ’55-’63, ’63-’65. Det Norske Arbeiderparti (DNA).

– Gunnar Jahn – Minister of finances, Venstre (V), and a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee- Also worked for Statistics Norway (SSB), and served as Director of the Norwegian Central Bank. Married to:

– Martha Emily Larsson Jahn – Women’s movement- and peace activist. Librarian. Was a central figure in the Norwegian women’s movement, peace activism and social work for 50 years. SNL states that she was an organizer and strategist who ‘reaped great results’ for the organisations she was involved in. Was not at Grini, important figure still.

– Lauritz Sand – “The most tortured man in Norway”. Military officer, businessman and resistance fighter during WW2. Captured September 25th 1941, whereupon the Gestapo promptly ‘broke the bones in most parts of his body’ and denied him medical treatment. Upon questioning, Sand apparently only told his torturers “no”. Died in 1956 from the injuries inflicted on him at Grini. Would have been bedridden while interned.

– Walter Kunze – Brutal prison guard at Grini. May have gone on to be a vacuum cleaner salesman after the war. (Can we confirm?) Portrayed by the artist Gunnar Bratlie who was held captive at Grini.

– Bestefar – Less brutal prison guard at Grini, likely the reason for his nickname, meaning “grandpa”, or literally “best father”. Portrayed by the artist Gunnar Bratlie who was held captive at Grini.

– Gunnar Bratlie – Artist, cartoonist, satirist. Apprehended and sent to Grini for his political cartoons. Drew many drawings covertly while interned, many of which have survived and have been published. 

– Francis Bull – “The professor”. Literary historian, chairman of Gyldendal Norsk Forlag (big, old, influential publishing house). Special interest for Norwegian “Golden Age” literature (Ibsen, Bjørnson, Kielland, Lie). Is said to have held a thousand lectures on literature and various topics to other inmates while interned at Grini. Would apparently go between the barracks to give lectures for inmates. Famously he didn’t use notes. Inmates weren’t allowed paper (I will confirm this with Grini, I guess, before sharing the document).

– Per Krogh – Painter. Student of Matisse in Paris, son of Christian Krogh and Oda Lasson Krogh, central artists. Held a series of lectures on painting in barrack 12, which were published in 1945. Professor, later director of the Art Academy.

– Nordahl Grieg(ish) – Poet, author, dramatist, journalist and political activist. Was not at Grini, but is important still. Controversial during the ’30ies for his sympathy towards the Soviet Union. Noted poet until his death at 41, when he was shot down having joined an ally air-raid set for a large-scale bombing of Berlin as a correspondent. 

– “Bergen family”. The Grini museum had a display on them. I could go back there and talk to them some more and get better documentation. From the images I took of the display, the Bergen family seem like a humorous gang, and I noticed that they had a good-night song that they’d sing at night.

–  Kirsten Hansteen was the first female minister in Norway and a part of Gerhardsen’s samlingsregjering. She came from NKP and during the war she was the editor of the illegal magazine Kvinnefronten (the Women’s Front).

– Ferdinand Fischermann – (b. 1920). Arms smuggler for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Enlisted in the Foreign Legion after being arrested by French police. Deserted and wound up in Norway as a sailor. Was recruited by the Gestapo and planted as a false prisoner at Grini to spy on the other prisoners. Francis Bull describes him as follows:
It was Fischermann, the most vicious man ever I met, — a man of a kind one fortunately rarely meets: To my knowledge none of us who encountered him at Grini, ever saw a single redeeming feature in him, only evil. He was a German by birth, but spoke Swedish quite well, and when he came to Grini as a prisoner, he pretended to be a communist, to gain entry among the Norwegians; but it soon became apparent that he was an informer, and he was promoted by the camp leadership to oversee all the other prisoners, equipped with the right to beat and kick etc., — a right he made frequent use of with visible joy. The summer and autumn months of 1943 when he was in control, were the worst time we experienced at Grini.

– The fool – a solider badly damaged by post traumatic stress disorder, his condition allows him to say anything he wants to anyone he wants – also the public (break the fourth wall) – he functions as a side-kick of the narrator.

– The narrator – he is on stage but not in the action. He might even be one of the characters in the action, but “speaking from the future”, he knows everything, he interprets things, he sees things happening outside the stage, he can speak to the audience directly.

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