Thursday, September 1, 2011

Norwegian Teachers' Resistance

When I think about dangerous jobs, teaching isn't the first thing that comes to mind. During World War II, however, teachers in Norway found themselves under threat. One of these teachers was Edvard Brakstad, an instructor at Eidsvoll Landsgymnas.

In the spring of 1942, Brakstad was one of 1,100 teachers arrested by the Germans for refusing to join a teacher association, designed to educate Norwegian students in Nazi ideology. After Brakstad's arrest in April, he was sent to a prison camp near Kirkenes, in northern Norway. While a prisoner, he wrote letters to his family and kept a journal, which he kept hidden from prison camp guards.

These writings formed the basis for Carter Walker's article "The Norwegian Teachers' Resistance," in this month's education-themed issue of Viking. While Walker's article features excerpts of Brakstad's writings, a larger collection can be found online, along with commentary from Brakstad's son, Olav.

Despite serious illness, Brakstad survived his ordeal. He returned home in late August of that year and later took over as headmaster of his school. If you'd like to learn more about Brakstad and the Norwegian teachers' resistance, be sure to check out the September issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

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