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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

From Wehrwolfs to U-boats

In September 1945 the Karesuando police raised the alarm about German guerilla bands. The Karesuando police station was also central to Norwegian police troops, the monument is for them.

My 2011 Arctic summer research trip started with Wehrwolfs and ended with U-boats. Great company, finds and superb weather made it another very memorable tour.

The first week of July two friends and I drove up to the point where Sweden, Finland and Norway converge. In Swedish we call the place Treriksröset, which translates as Three Realms Cairn.

Our first stop was in Karesuando, i.e. just before Finland. Karesuando is Sweden's northernmost town but not only has a frontier shop that boasts "We have everything, almost", it even has an Asian Restaurant that serves good reindeer dishes.

It was in Karesuando, in the old police building called "The White House" and seen above, that the local head of police raised the alarm about "German werewolves" on the Swedish border in a report dated the 15th of September 1945. This report would seem to be verified by a report from the Swedish defence attache in Oslo, written some weeks before the Karesuando police report. Also Swedish newspaper reports from the time seem to support the existence of German guerilla or werewolf groups, in German Werwolf and also Wehrwolf (the latter being Third Reich spelling, wehr means defence).

A German staff car in a stream, still there in 2011, in the area of the reported werewolf activity. Some Wehrmacht dunkelgelb paint still remains on it. I believe it is an Opel Olympia but not at all sure from which year. Any suggestions?

Now, there definitely were groups of German SS-Wehrwolfs operating in Arctic Norway, under the project name Silberfuchs. The last group turned themselves in on May 19, 1945. But these groups operated around Kirkenes, not around the Three Realms Cairn.

Not least thanks to research by my friend Simon Orchard (whose knowledge about German units in Arctic Norway is just amazing), I was able to pretty much prove that the "werewolves" by the Three Realms Cairn were basically German soldiers hunting reindeer. A few may have been escapees from a feared future in Soviet captivity, but that did not make them into werewolves.

I have written about this theme in my latest book in Swedish, that I have described in English in this previous post. In a future book in English I will write even more about this and hopefully also provide some photos from the last and very real Arctic werewolf operations, i.e. around Kirkenes.

In one of the valleys of the German Lyngen line in Norway we befriended this local who showed us his WWII skis from Murmansk. He still uses them, but only once or twice a year.

Speaking about the Kirkenes area, we were shown a pair of skis with an amazing background, in one of the most isolated valleys of the German Lyngen line in Norway. These US Army skis were manufactured in Pennsylvania during WWII and sent via some convoy to Soviet Murmansk. Then, through Soviet or Norwegian troops coming from Murmansk to Kirkenes, the skis eventually reached our new friend.

Might the Allen company in Pennsylvania still be in business? Then please send me some money for this advertisement...

Naturally, we also visited the Troms Defence Museum in Setermoen, although I have been there something like a dozen times before. But it is always good to see and has some new finds too, this year e.g. two German (Czech-made) tank turrets that had been used on top of bunkers of the Atlantic Wall.

I was once a tank commander, but not in one of these, the Germans called them Panzerkampfwagen 38(t). BTW I am wearing a surplus Norwegian army shirt bought for almost nothing but it is one of the best shirts you can find.

On the final day we realized that the Arctic u-boat base we had heard of has more remains than we had anticipated. As we only had just enough time to drive there and take a few photos I will end this report with a teaser photo. More about this base next year or perhaps I will save it all for my coming book in English...

The perfect location for a u-boat base. I would say that this fjord is the most "Tolkienesque" I have visited so far. To fully appreciate this one, see it in slightly larger size by clicking on the image.

Thank you guys, and see you next year!

I forgot to mention that after Karesuando we revisited the "Sturmbockstellung" with its modern museum. Always worth seeing if you are in the area, especially when the museum is open.

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