Photo: Utlånt av Endre Wrånes. 

Keep it quiet!

Family secrets in the aftermath of WWII

Every day.

19 March to 21 September

The exhibition 'Keep it quiet – Family Secrets in the aftermath of WW II' explores how World War II continues to shape people's perception of themselves, their family history, and identity nearly 80 years after the war ended.

Few other five-year periods in Norwegian history have left such deep marks on people's consciousness as the German occupation of 1940-1945.

Long-term effects of the war

Between 1940 and 1945, hundreds of thousands of German soldiers were ordered to Norway to occupy a country with a population of just under 3 million people. Norway had the highest ratio of German soldiers per inhabitant among the German-occupied countries. During the five years of the war, Germans encountered the Norwegian community in various ways. They recruited political sympathizers, punished their opponents harshly and brutally, employed Norwegians to build military facilities or roads, and fell in love with Norwegian girls, marrying them. When the occupation ended in 1945, the Germans left Norway. But they had left their mark.

Many still struggle with the long-term effects of what happened during the war. In some families, it is still challenging to talk about what happened, two to three generations later.

21 personal stories

In 2020, Vest-Agder Museum asked if anyone would share their story. Stories poured in, including those of women who had relationships with German soldiers, their children, and grandchildren, descendants of NS (Nasjonal Samling) members, and descendants of resistance fighters who were imprisoned by the Germans without receiving recognition after the war.

Several stories testify to traumatic events during and after the war that have left clear marks on families. 21 informants have given permission for us to retell their stories, most under the promise of anonymity.

The traveling exhibition presents these 21 narratives. Many stories revolve around shame, loneliness, and – perhaps most of all – secrecy.

'I have never been a 'German whore,' only a woman who loved a German man.'

Check our daily program on the "What's On Calendar".