Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kristiansand. Inside Stiftelsen Arkivet. Borghild Scharff, Arrestee, Gestapo

This building, now the Stiftelsen Arkivet, was used by the Gestapo during WWII as its headquarters for eliminating opposition to Nazism in the broader Kristiansand area.  See FN 1.  Now, go inside.

1.  The swastika flag.

This is so familiar by now that it pays to look back at specifics, at the inversion of its original significance. Adolf Hitler initiated this particular design, proportion and color scheme around a hooked cross, the swastika traditional Aryan culture symbol for good fortune.  The swastika shape itself was not new. It had been used for centuries, and also used by several groups after WWI.  See History of the Swastika.
Color scheme: The red signified the social idea behind Nazism, the smaller white circle surrounding the symbol signified the idea of Nazism as expressed nationally in Germany, and the black swastika itself for a longer ideology:
"[T]he struggle for the victory of Aryan mankind and at the same time the triumph of the ideal of creative work which is in itself and always will be anti-Semitic."
See Project Gutenberg, Mein Kampf, at
Germany is considering whether to reprint Mein Kampf. While they decide, read it yourself, via gutenberg.

 Swastika flag, Gestapo Headquarters 1942- 45, The Arkivet, Kristiansand NO

2. The Arkivet. Staircase to the basement, Gestapo Heaquarters.

Start with an orientation documentary on the fourth floor. Then descend to the basement, to the cells and torture rooms. Intervening floors are now used for humanitarian groups, part of the Arkivet Foundation, or Stiftelsen Arkivet. While used for ordinary civil purposes, the Norwegian National Archive referred to it simply as The Arkivet.

There on the walls of the staircase to the basement and the torture cells, are plaques with names of those Resistance fighters and others held and interrogated here. There is no separate designation for those executed. Are those persons, including national hero Major Arne Laudal, see prior post, on a separate list.

Skim the plaques, get ready to put the next foot out -- and stop.

3.  Wall plaque, S surnames: Detainees WWII, Gestapo Headquarters, Kristiansand.  Borghild Scharff.

Who?  Borghild Scharff.

There is a name similar to my own maiden name, here spelled as Scharff, and not our Scharfe (where the silly e was appended in 1900 or so to help the postman keep the Scharfs separate in Canada).  Behold Borghild Scharff. 

  • Duplicate consonants and e's come and go in surnames through the years and across borders, and I knew from past research that names could be adopted as well as inherited. There were Jewish Scharffs from other war rolls in WWII.  
  • Our Scharfe family, familiar with Scots and Irish perhaps Viking settler roots, had echoes in Otkell, Son of Skarf from the Old Norse The Story of Burnt Njal: Or Life in Iceland at the End of the Tenth Century, Google book.  Explore.
 So, what does Borghild Scharff's name add to the name, scharfe, scharf, scharff and variations scaife and who knows, perhaps in German sharp now, originated.  Who was Borghild Scharff?
Was Borghild Scharff herself Jewish, or had she married a Jew? No idea. Would be interested to know the reach of the name.

  • Others in the S's list of detainees at the Gestapo headquarters in Kristiansand, the Arkivet.

4.  Cell stagings, interrogations, Stiftelsen Arkivet, Kristiansand 

The cells are outdated mockups, using old mannekins, but the idea gets across vividly.  In one, a woman indeed is being beaten.

5.  Adolf Hitler, small portion of an exhibit at Stiftelsen Arkivet.

As you read Mein Kampf, see section 1 above, pay particular attention to Chapter 6 where the outline of propaganda techniques sounds like today. Hitler's propaganda machine:  Induce fear of loss of culture, status, property; sloganeer, spin; scapegoat another group; focus on masses, not the intelligentsia who argue too much; oppose, object; duck debate; repeat.  As a mnemonic, try everyman's ISSFOODR.  If you see it, say something.  Media and politics and religion are full of it, is that so? Is that how Hitler succeeded as far as he did.

6.  History.  What chance did Norway realistically have, in overcoming the Nazi invasion?  Denmark had already fallen. See on the map how close Denmark and Norway are, a mere few hours across the Skagerrak.


FN 1  Following its Occupation of Norway, the Nazis through the Gestapo requisitioned this building known at the time as The Arkivet. The Arkivet ultimately served as Gestapo headquarters for eliminating opposition to the Nazis before and during WWII, including conversion of the basement for torture and detention cells. The Geheime Staatspolizei, or Gestapo, had been organized in 1925.  The Gestapo was an arm of the Schutzaffel, or SS, or  the ideological protection arm in Germany also responsible for security and racial policy, and related ideology. See   The building now houses humanitarian groups as part of the Stiftelsen Archive, or Stiftelsen Arkivet.
The Arkivet, Stiftelsen Arkivet, Kristiansand, Norway.  Nazi 1924-45.

No comments:

Post a Comment