Peder and the war in Norway

By Trine Tessem Moerkeset

My Grandfather, Peder Tessem was a young boy during the Second World War but recalls what it was like growing up during the German invasion.

“Rationing with lack of food, clothing and other necessities was an area which gave us anxiety for the day and the future. It had been a large amount of import to the country in the last year before the war, and it was stockpiled for a year. The German occupation was going to last for 5 years, and in that time Norway was excluded from their most important trading partners, Great Britain and the USA. There was half a million Germans in the country, they needed food and a fair bit was sent to Germany. We used something called “crisisflour”, it was rough and from bad grains. People said they added chalk to make it heavier. After a while we started receiving replacement products, and the B-soap was the one I remembered the best. It was like a lump of clay, and what it had cleaned of your face was left in a ring in the washing bowl.We received shoes with wooden soles, and it could be leather of fish skins,”

Peder Tessem and Trine Tessem Moerkeset

Peder Tessem and Trine Tessem Moerkeset

“It came clothes made of paper, and it came cellulose plates that were watered down and given to the cows for food. The locals grew their own tobacco for that had been substituted as well. There was also limited access to alcohol, but I did not take much notice of that because I had never seen that in the house before”.

“The last two years of the war it became clear that the Germans were going to lose the war, it was just a matter of when. My conformation was delayed one year in the hopes that the war would be over by then, but no such luck. The priest from our church had been replaced by the National Party which was in line with the Nazis. We therefore decided to go to another church for my conformation. It turned out however that we needed a signed baptism certificate from our local church so we had to go see the priest. Me and my friends knew that when the priest was out of town his son had the authority to sign the certificate and we decided to go on one of these days to avoid a scolding. As I was a very punctual young man I showed up early and the priest had not yet left. He gave me an earful but signed the certificate none the less. I had my conformation on the 8 February 1945”.

It is hard for me to imagine what it was like back then, but hearing about these snapshots in time it feels very real. The details of that time, it seems are as vivid as they were then. My grandfather enjoys recalling different times of his life and was very happy for me to share some of his experiences with others.