Artifact of the month for September
Memorial Service, August 1945
On the 31st of August 1945, the Jewish synagogue in Bergstien was rededicated with a Memorial Service for the 764 Jews (of approximately 2,100 before the war) who had been killed by the Nazi extermination-machinery. The war years had deprived Norway 42 percent of the country’s Jewish population, and the congregation faced a formidable task to rebuild church life for a population characterized by shock, trauma and powerlessness. Some had lost all, everyone had lost someone. In the congregations board meeting protocol for the 8th of August we find the following note:
The director, Mendel Bernstein initiated this first meeting on freed Norwegian soil with a eulogy of the deceased members and fellow believers who after deportation to Germany / Poland had met their fate. Out of approximately 700 deportees only 12 people has so far been heard from. It is therefore now greatly needed by the survivors to contribute to the full extent to rebuild the Jewish ward and cultural life in Norway.
The memorial service was held in the presence of Crown Prince Olav. Present at the ceremony were also ministers, dean and Clergy as well as prominent individuals in the fight against Nazism, among them senior consultant Johan Scharffenberg and architect Odd Nansen. Rabbi Marcus Friediger from Copenhagen, who had spent eighteen months in Theresienstadt, dwelt in his homily at the requirement of justice: The more we suffer an injustice, the stronger we become in demand for justice. And thus we are helping to ensure mankind the greatest blessing: Peace.