Norway ready to honour Yugoslav PoWs

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With their joint forces, Norwegians and Serbs in Norway have prepared a rich programme on the occasion of the 75th anniversary since the arrival of the first Yugoslav prisoners of war to German Nazi camps in Norway.

This June in Norway is packed with different activities varying from history lessons to movie screenings and a concert in different parts of Norway.

The celebration officially kicks off on June 14 with a seminar on the Yugoslav prisoners of war and the Bloody road - collaboration between Falstadsenteret and Vennskapssambandet.

It continues on June 17 with unveiling of a small memorial plaque dedicated to the Yugoslav prisoners of war in the presence of the mayor of Bergen, Ms Marte Mjøs Persen and counselor at the Serbian Embassy in Oslo, Jelica Dimitrijevic. The plague will be placed in the courtyard of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bergen on June 17, according to the organiser, the Serbian society in Bergen.

The guests will then have a chance to see a premiere of Bloody Cross, a documentary of the Serbian filmmaker Simo Brdar which sheds a light on the mystery of the bloody cross which today stands as a testimony of the Norwegian-Serbian friendship. This short documentary follows brothers Banjac, Marijan and Milos, and their suffering in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. They were two out of 4,260 Yugoslav (mainly Serbian) prisoners of war in German camps in Norway.

After the screening, Norwegian historians Michael Stokke, Knut Flovik Thoresen and Richard M Exelby will hold short lectures discussing the Serbian-Norwegian friendship from a historic perspective. Mr Thoresen is already well known to the Serbian audience for his book “Sent to Norway to die”. The Bloody Cross movie is then set to continue its tour across Norway in the next few days.

Meanwhile, a rally in Trondheim on Moholt cemetery has also been scheduled for June 17.

The activities marking the 75th anniversary will end on June 23 on a high note. Namely, the authorities of Hemnes and Vefsn municipalities are organising a ”National rally" in the area where two camps (646 prisoners died in the two camps) were placed in the presence of high state officials from both sides as well as Serbian-Norwegian friendship associations and other colleagues and friends.

According to Mr Jim Nerdal, former mayor of Vefsn, they will also use this opportunity to present their projects. “Since the road over Korgfjellet is open to traffic during the summer, the project envisions setting up signs on the way, but also an “information-point” at the top of the mountain,” he said earlier.

Everyone is welcome to join in and honour these brave Serbians, as well as brave Norwegians who were helping them survive.