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"De plågade oss som om de ville döda oss": Jugoslaviska fångar i Norge under andra världskriget i ljuset av nytt källmaterial
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, The Hugo Valentin Centre. (Folkmordsstudier/Balkanstudier)
2011 (Swedish)In: Historisk Tidskrift (S), ISSN 0345-469X, Vol. 131, no 4, 745-771 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

“They tormented us as if they wanted to kill us”: New light on Second World War Yugoslav camp prisoners in Norway

The article provides new insights into the violence suffered by the more than four thousand Yugoslavs who were deported to Norway by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.Placed in labour camps throughout the country, they were made to work under extremely harsh conditions on projects such as road construction and military installations.

The analysis focuses on the prisoners’ experience of camp life. Particular attention is paid to their interaction with prison guards and to the political conflicts that emerged within the prisoner group. The findings of sociologist Nils Christie on the camp guards are juxtaposed against new sources from Belgrade, which became fully available to scholars in the early 2000s. These new sources show how the camp administrations exploited the terrible hygienic conditions, malnutrition and negative stereotypes about a violence-prone “Balkan culture” to create emotional distance between prisoners and guards. The prisoners complained that they were not given enough food or sufficient opportunity to maintain their hygiene, which they attributed to a conscious policy on the part of the camp administration. Lice infestations, outbreaks of typhus and malaria, combined with extrajudicial executions, not least of prisoners who fell ill, resulted in a death toll of over sixty percent for the Yugoslavs. The Yugoslavs thus suffered among the highest death tolls of any national or ethnic community relocated to Scandinavia during the war. The analysis further deals with prisoner escapes to Sweden, which were often made possible by help from Norwegian civilians. Such experiences contributed to the very positive image of Norway and Norwegians in the witness statements taken by the Yugoslav embassy in Stockholm. These statements also show that the prisoners had a very positive view of how they were treated by the authorities upon arrival in Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 131, no 4, 745-771 p.
Keyword [en]
Second World War, Yugoslavia, Norway, Sweden, violence, concentration camps, prisoners of war
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-162204OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-162204DiVA: diva2:459599
Available from: 2011-11-27 Created: 2011-11-27 Last updated: 2012-01-18Bibliographically approved

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Dulic, Tomislav
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