12 August 2022
Of the Norwegian sailors in the merchant fleet during World War II, 4,000 were between the ages of 14 and 18. The majority were only a couple of years older. The sailors carried the necessary cargo such as soldiers, aviation fuel, weapons and food. But it cost. 4352 Norwegian sailors lost their lives during the war – at sea, in sickness, in accidents or suicides.
It is said that the merchant fleet and the seafarers’ efforts were Norway’s strongest contribution to the Allies’ victory in 1945, but those who had been at sea received little follow-up, compensation or honour after the war.
War sailors // a traveling exhibition is a war sailor exhibition focusing on life after the war curated by people even on a voluntary basis in coastal communities along the entire Norwegian coast. In the exhibition we meet eight of those who were children and young people when the war made them war sailors, through portraits and sound recordings.
As time witnesses, they tell on behalf of many. Understanding the history of war sailors through them, however, requires careful interpretation. The many silent fates that enclose these survival accounts are easily displaced, in a reading that, after all, went well with the war sailors. Too many didn’t.
An outdoor exhibition
The walking exhibition is a car trailer with walls that are knocked out at the exhibition sites. It starts its Nordland tour in Helgeland in May, and visits Museum Nord’s area from mid-August and September.
The exhibition builds on the documentation and book project Krigsseilere. Å overleve freden (War Sailors. Surviving the Peace) (Pax publishing house, 2015). Idunn Sem is responsible for the idea behind the exhibition, Carsten Anriksdal is a photographer and Torgeir Tredal has prepared the physical construction.
The project is supported by the Arts Council Norway, the Ministry of Defence, Fritt ord and Kristiansand Municipality.
War sailors // a traveling exhibition in Narvik
The official opening of the exhibition will take place at Rådhusplassen in Narvik on 15 August at 18:00.