Scandinavian museum marks day of Norway’s liberation from Nazis

Their history will live on.

The Scandinavian East Coast Museum (SECM) was to host an event for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, but it was canceled due to the pandemic.

SECM President Victoria Hofmo, however, still wants to remember the significant date of May 8.

“May 8 is the day of Norway’s liberation from the Nazi occupation,” she said. “The Norwegian war sailors suffered the most casualties per capita of any of the armed forces. There is a monument they had installed at Battery Park. It faces the American Merchant Marine Monument, which is appropriate as the Norwegian war sailors served on all and any Allied ship.”

“Of course, the event had to be postponed,” she added. “So I thought it would be nice to remember these men. There were so many living in Brooklyn that they formed their own club to advocate for owed benefits and fellowship. Also, the monument was given to thank the American people and did not mention their own bravery or colleagues. Years later, a tablet was added about their valor.”

According to Hofmo, one of the last of these living veterans is 97-year-old Karl Aksel Andresen,

who currently lives in Sunset Park.  

The NYC Parks website described the Norwegian Veterans Monument.

“The monument was conceived by officers of the Royal Norwegian Navy and Merchant Marine,” it states. “It was dedicated in a ceremony held on October 21, 1982, and attended by King Olav V of Norway and Mayor Edward I. Koch. It consists of a large natural granite slab on which rests a boulder with an image of an anchor inscribed on it. Additional inscriptions are etched on the base as well as on a pink granite marker installed in 1995. In the spring of 2001, as part of the overall improvements to the park’s Upper Promenade designed by Saratoga Associates and implemented by the City and the Conservancy for Historic Battery Park, the monument was relocated to a newly landscaped setting northwest of Castle Clinton.”

Last year, the SECM held an essay contest about the sailors for sixth grade students.

“We had the most submissions ever that year and one of the local history teachers took it on for her entire sixth grade,” Hofmo said. “(The teacher) had never heard of their history and wanted to incorporate it into the school’s curriculum.”

THE SECM Facebook page also posted about the importance of the date.

“My prior post is about Denmark’s lovely way of commemorating their liberation on May 5th,” it read, “For Norway, it was May 8th. It is on this date that we at the Scandinavian East Coast Museum hold an annual ceremony at ‘The Stone’ Norwegian War Sailors & Navy Monument in Battery Park in partnership with the Norwegian Consulate, Faerder Lodge SON and others. 

As it is the 75th Anniversary of the end of WWII, it was developing into a wonderful event. Unfortunately, we had to postpone the ceremony because of COVID-19. Hopefully, it will be held in October.”

“I encourage you to learn something new about this time in history and share it with your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” the post added. “Although we are in the middle of a pandemic, this moment should not be forgotten.”

The SECM has several priorities, such as ensuring that the War Sailors Monument in Battery Park is accessible; having an informational brochure that explains the monument and the history it commemorates onsite, as well as an attractive, protective vessel; and creating a publication of essays to  mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

To read more of Hofmo’s thoughts on Norwegian War Sailors, click here.

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