Five years constitue a big part of a childhood, and the years of the occupation have influenced the generation who lived important, shaping childhood years 1940-45. Several archives can tell us something about childhood during the war.
Many children had a poor diet, and many children were also struck by war in a way that made them in need of care. During the war and straight after, several efforts were made to ensure good nutrition through school breakfasts and soup serving, and to help the children that suffered the most from the war, through contributions, sponsorships and stays at health resorts. Central in this work was “Nasjonalhjelpen til de skadelidte distrikter/frihetskampens ofre” (a national institution that raised money and gave help to the victims of war). In this institution’s archive you will find a lot about children’s nutrition, rehabilitation in Sweden for sick children, correspondence and information about the sponsorship schemes, information about help-needing single children organized alphabetically, and an overview of the situation for the children of sailors.
The Norwegian Women’s Health Association and the Norwegian Red Cross were also active in the work to improve the lives of children. These organizations’ archives are preserved at the National Archives in Oslo, and you will find various information about children’s situation by searching the individual archives’ catalogues. The soup stations of “Danskehjelpen” (Danish humanitarian aid to Norway during World War II) were other important suppliers of food to Norwegian children during the war. In the archives there are accounts, lists of school classes and kindergartens, as well as letters and drawings from Norwegian children.
The legation in Bern’s archive contains a report regarding the situation in Norway with several photos of catering for children, the handing out of food, and drawings and thank-you notes from children in Norway. In the Norwegian Relief-Central in Sweden’s archive, especially in box 40 and 41, you will find information about aid to children in Norway.
In the fall of 1946, an essay competition was organized for mainly 7th grade students with the topics ”A memory from the war” and ”When peace came”. The initiative came from The Norwegian Total Abstainers’ Society, and the essays are found in their archive. They give us a good opportunity to take part in the children’s own descriptions and interpretations of experiences from the war years and the peace day. Many of these essays describe dramatic memories that have made strong impressions. Bomb attacks and panicky stays in bomb-shelters, airplanes that have been shot down and encounters with traumatized prisoners of war, are among the themes. Some tell about the anxiety they felt when someone close to them were involved in illegal work, the fear of house searches and experiencing their father being arrested. Despite the fact that the events described often are dramatic, we also get insight into the elements of children's everyday lives, their everyday chores, and their food and housing situation. The children who chose the theme ”When peace came” not only tell about the overwhelming feeling of peace and freedom, but also about the everyday life in war that they left behind in May 1945.
PA-0379 Norske Kvinners Sanitetsforening (organizing of food and clothes for children, including in corporation with Svenske Norgeshjelpen (the Swedish help to Norway))
S-2073 Den norske Relief-Central i Sverige . About help for children, especially box 40 and 41