THE LAST WITNESSES OF WORLD WAR II (2019 - 2020)

"It was you or me. You or me. And who do you choose then? I did it for the sake of the country. And for all my friends who were killed. We had to place orders and receive orders. No one involved in war has clean hands. You have blood on your hands. It will come back to you.»


Ivan Harry Vanje, 101, September 2019. He passed away in December 2019.


Andrea Gjestvang and journalist Stian Eisenträger travelled through Norway to portray some of the last witnesses of World War II. They met people who who risked their lives to protect their country and freedom. Some of the veterans were active in sabotage groups, they worked as nurses or fought at the frontline.


Since Gjestvang&Eisenträger started the project, half of the witnesses they met are no longer alive. But their stories live on.

The project was assigned by newspaper VG and was published in their weekend magazine VG Helg.

Monrad Mosberg, 102, was a marine officer on the S-class destroyer KNM «Svenner». It was sunk off Sword Beach, one of the allied landing zones in Normandy, at dawn on 6 June 1944 while supporting the British Army Normandy landings. Mosberg was reported dead, but survived hours in water and continued to fight until the war ended. 

Ragnar Ulstein, 99, joined the famed Special Operations Group Norwegian Independent Company 1 (Kompani Linge). After the war he was an officer in the Independent Norwegian Brigade Group in Germany. He died in December 2019.

Signe Raassum, 95, was part of the «Osvald Group», a Norwegian sabotage organization. It performed around 110 sabotage actions. 

"It was you or me. You or me. And who do you choose then? I did it for the sake of the country. And for all my friends who were killed. We had to place orders and receive orders. No one involved in war has clean hands. You have blood on your hands. It will come back to you.»


Ivan Harry Vanje, 101, September 2019.

Ivan Harry Vanje participated in the liberation of Narvik and contributed to inflicting the first defeat on Nazi Germany. The horrors of war made a lasting impression on him, making him a lifelong advocate for peace. He died in December 2019.

Olga Marianne Esbensen, 100, risked her life to hide partisans in the barn in the north of Norway.

Lars Bottolfs, 94, was part of the «Osvald Group», a Norwegian sabotage organization. He took part in blewing up a bridge that had been designated a sabotage target to prevent the transfer of German forces and military equipment between western and eastern Norway.

In 1944 Karsten Hansen, 94, was only 18 years old, but already a centrally placed war opponent. He was in the Vaagårds group, which was part of the Osvald group, a famous Norwegian sabotage organization.

Mr Hansen was a prisoner at the death cell at Akershus Festning in Norway, and he was sent to Grini prison camp. 

- You can hate a system, but I could never hate a human being". 

As a Red Cross nurse, Gerd Semb, 100,  couldn't choose who to help. It was war, and she had to help injured German soldiers too. She showed resistance to Nazism through her gloves: They were red, with King Haakon's royal badge in white.


After the war she worked as a nurse in occupied Germany and in the Korean War.

Gerd Semb died in February 2020.
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