Tracks in the Snow

Silent Refuge

Our stay with the Granlis came to an unexpected and abrupt end. In March 1942, the lensmann paid us a visit with some very disturbing news. A German raid of the villages in his district was imminent, and he urged us to leave for Buahaugen immediately. Travelling to Buahaugen at this time of year and with no advanced planning was a terrifying prospect. We did not know how we would manage all by ourselves or how we would get all the necessary provisions. Nils promised to look for someone to bring us what we needed at regular intervals, and we had no choice but to believe him. So on a bright, sunny day, we set out on skis with one of our neighbours, each of us carrying as many supplies as we could.

It took several hours of skiing through deep and heavy snow to reach the seter, but since there were four of us, we made deep tracks in the snow. We hardly recognized Buahaugen when we arrived — the landscape looked like it was frozen in time. Our neighbour helped us carry wood inside and start a fire in the fireplace and the stove to warm up the cottage. And then he left. We were all alone in the great expanse of snow and ice.

The brook was frozen, too, except for a small opening, where we were able to fetch drinking water — on skis, of course. When we needed water with which to wash ourselves and our clothes, we melted snow in a large pot. At night, the cottage got freezing cold, and it was usually my mother who got a fire going before my father and I arose in the morning. We could not go outside without putting our skis on. It was almost inconceivable that we could stay here all alone until the farmers came up for the summer. But that was what we did — at least that was what my parents did.

After a few days in the mountains, I did something that was probably the most selfish thing I have ever done in my whole life. My only excuse is that I was only thirteen years old. I told my parents that I wanted to go back to Rogne, to stay with Nils and Alma and to go to school. Their reaction was predictable. I was their only link to the village in the event that something happened to my father, and now I wanted to leave them completely on their own. In the end, they let me go, provided that I agree to return to the mountains every weekend with provisions.

So I set out on my skis, retracing the tracks we had made a few days earlier. I felt free as a bird — for a little while. Then I began to realize that I was now all alone in the great snowy expanse I had to cover. What would happen if I fell and could not get up?

Silent Refuge (Traduction française à venir), Margrit Rosenberg Stenge

En 1940, installés dans le village isolé de Rogne, en Norvège, Margrit Rosenberg, onze ans, et ses parents pensent avoir enfin trouvé la sécurité qu’ils recherchaient depuis leur fuite d’Allemagne deux ans plus tôt. Que pouvait-il leur arriver dans un minuscule village ? Mais quand la guerre éclate en Norvège et que la persécution des Juifs se fait de plus en plus grande, les Rosenberg sont forcés de passer leurs hivers dans un refuge encore plus reculé – une petite cabane de montagne des plus rudimentaires, accessible uniquement en ski. Au début, l’isolement leur permet de se sentir en relative sécurité et de trouver une certaine tranquillité, dans un coin figé dans le temps. Mais deux ans plus tard, alors que les nazis commencent à arrêter et déporter les Juifs d’Oslo, les Rosenberg se retrouvent forcés de prendre la décision fatidique de faire confiance à la Résistance et d’affronter le danger en organisant leur fuite de la Norvège occupée par les nazis vers la Suède, pays neutre.

Préface de Robert Ericksen

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En bref
Allemagne; Norvège; Suède
Norvège d’après-guerre
Immigration au Canada en 1951
Matériel pédagogique disponible:
Tranche d'âge recommandée

272 pages

À propos de l'auteure

Photo of Margrit Rosenberg Stenge

Margrit Rosenberg Stenge est née à Cologne (Allemagne) le 27 décembre 1928. À la fin de la guerre, elle retourne vivre à Oslo avec sa famille et se marie, avant d’immigrer au Canada et de s’installer à Montréal en 1951 avec son mari Stefan. Margrit a travaillé durant quarante ans dans diverses administrations, après quoi elle a traduit six livres du norvégien à l’anglais, dont Counterfeiter: How a Norwegian Jew Survived the Holocaust de Moritz Nachtstern (2008). Margrit Rosenberg Stenge est décédée en 2021.

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