From Serbia to Norway on a bicycle

Together with two other enthusiasts, Kristina Stamenkovic (27) from Prokuplje has travelled 1,600 kilometres on a bicycle to honour the Serbian prisoners of war in Norway.

When Kristina first announced in April that she will make a cycling pilgrimage to Norway with two of her friends, not that many people had taken her seriously. She was not a professional cyclist and had no previous experience in longer travels by bicycle.

But, as an ancestor of a Serbian who was on forced labour in Norway during the Second World War, she had a strong drive. “We knew we were going to make it as we were led by the wish to pay homage to our ancestors,” Kristina said.

Media in both Norway and Serbia, as well as her friends and members of different friendship associations have been closely monitoring her trip and cheering up all the way from Serbia to Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and finally Norway. After 20 days of driving, the cycling crew arrived to Oslo, and the last part from Oslo to Korgen was reserved for train. She admits that it was not at all easy. As they were approaching the goal, it was only getting harder, especially in Norway. All the way, Kristina and her friend Nenad had another friend following them in a car.

They came right on time for the special ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first Yugoslav prisoners of war to Norway. Namely, on 9 June 1942, first 900 out of 4,260 Yugoslav (mainly Serbian) prisoners of war arrived to German camps in Norway. On this occasion, two Norwegian municipalities, Vefsn and Hemnes, shed a light on this little known chapter of our common history with central event on June 23. In addition to this, Serbs in Norway have organised a series of events.

“We had a great honour to unveil one of the memorial plaques together with young people from the students’ parliaments of Serbia and Norway,” says Kristina.

This way, they honoured the prisoners of war and Norwegians helping them thus contributing to further strengthening of the long lasting Serbian-Norwegian friendship.

She has documented all the most interesting adventures from the trip on her Facebook blog, while a short road movie is coming soon.