First engineering meeting in Free Norway

-We are putting all our efforts into making our efforts for the liberation and reconstruction of Norway and hope that the FNI will soon be able to fully resume its activities in our country.

The first Finnmark county meeting minutes after the war have been found in the shadows of history and donated to the reconstruction museum in Hammerfest. The handover was recently made by Tekna President Lars Olav Grøvik and Tekna Finnmark Department Head Bernt Nilsen. Klaus Henriksen, former head of the Finnmark department, who was the man who found the minutes, was also present at the presentation.

-This protocol clearly shows that the engineers were ready to roll up their sleeves and help revive society after the ravages of war, said Lars Olav Grøvik during the presentation. The president of Tekna pointed out that the engineers had an important role to play during the reconstruction in 1945. – The evacuation of Finnmark is not something you have only heard of. It also directly affected my own family – my uncle, who was a fisherman on the coast of Finnmark, was also forcibly sent south, Grøvik said.

-The protocol is an interesting and important historical document, says Lodve A. Svare, who is head of department at the Museum of Reconstruction. -It shows that the engineers were out early and played an important role with their expertise in the reconstruction. The protocol is an important piece of the big puzzle that tells the dramatic story of Finnmark’s reconstruction, he stresses.

Free finnmark

In 1944, Finnmark and North Troms were burnt down by German occupying forces during their withdrawal, and the population was forcibly evacuated. On October 25, 1944, Kirkenes was liberated by Soviet forces.

May 8 is Liberation Day in Norway and the rest of Europe. But according to the minutes, the first county meeting of the Association of Norwegian Engineers (NIF) in Free Norway took place as early as January 21, 1945. At that time, 11 engineers met at Snekkerbua in Bjørnevatn outside of Kirkenes.

Who were the 11 engineers gathered in Bjørnevatn in January 1945? The Finnmark branch was established as early as 1925, and many members from the eastern part of the elongated county worked at A/S Sydvaranger, which was established in 1906.

In addition, local engineers from A/S Syd-Varanger also attended this meeting of three engineers “belonging to the Norwegian forces”. These were to belong to the 2nd Mountain Company of the Norwegian Brigade in England, which had arrived at Kirkenes via Murmansk a few weeks earlier.

Resume activity

At the meeting, the members decided to resume the activities of the pre-war association. A new board was elected, with Bjarne Greiner of Bjørnevatn at the helm as the new chairman. According to the minutes, engineer Halvorsen recounted the life and work of Norwegian engineers outside Norway during the occupation. Mrs. Engineer Greiner served coffee and cake, which they enjoyed. An attempt was then made to take a photograph of the assembly, but this was unsuccessful, as Bjørnevatn’s sole photographer “for compelling reasons could not be permitted to take a photograph”.

Liberation and reconstruction

The assembly decided to send the following greeting:

The Norwegian Society of Engineers in the UK Eleven engineers gathered for the first county meeting of the NIF in free Norway send their greetings to the Norwegian Society of Engineers in the UK. We are putting all our efforts into making our efforts for the liberation and reconstruction of Norway and hope that the FNI will soon be able to fully resume its activities in our country.

This is the Museum of Reconstruction

The Museum of Reconstruction of Finnmark and Northern Troms conveys the dramatic events of World War II, such as the forced evacuation, fire and reconstruction. After the peace, the Norwegian authorities tried to control relocation, but people braved the ban and the danger of mines to return home and begin the heavy reconstruction work.

Read the article in iFinnmark on presentation of the protocol

The association during the war

During the war, the name of the association was Den Norske Ingeniørforening (NIF).

Mass dismissals of members, dismissal of the president and dismissal of the secretary general, appointment of a Nazi leadership and destruction of the finances of the association. The war years are a very dramatic chapter in the history of the association. Read more about it in the article:
When the Nazis took over the Association of Engineers.

Many members traveled overseas during the war. Four overseas NIF departments were formed:

The Liberation of Eastern Finnmark

learn more about the liberation of East Finnmark (Wikipedia).

Alec Dittman

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