February 4, 2023

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Minda is praised for telling what it was like to be a child during the war. The native village was destroyed and her father executed when she was eight years old.

Minda Valborg Olsen, 88, is one of the few still alive who can tell what it was like to be a child when war hit Norway.

You remember April 26, 1942 as if it were yesterday. Sunday which led to one of the worst tragedies of the war on Norwegian soil.

Siblings set: Minda was the eldest of six siblings. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

The whole family in one house

In the small village of Sutra, the Minda family slept with their grandparents.

– “Mammo og papen” with five children; aunt and uncle six; And Besto in the room. There was no luster. The beds were along all the walls, but we were fine.

Telavåg is described as a quiet spot where people live off fishing. When the Germans invaded Norway, boats were used to transport resistance fighters to England and weapons to Norway. The proximity to Shetland contributed to 150 people traveling through Telavåg.

– There were roads all the time with people traveling to England, but we kids weren’t that interested.

Terboven ordered all of Telavog to be razed to the ground in April 1942. Photo: Nordsjøfartmuseet / Museum Vest

– Like wild animals!

The children were asleep on that April morning in 1942 when everything changed. Two Norwegian agents who had come from Great Britain to Televåg hid in Minda’s ancestral home. An informant from Bergen reported to the Gestapo.

– I heard a terrible commotion in the morning. We were in the same room. Boys and girls are on opposite sides. Then the Germans came up the stairs. They looked everywhere, lifted up on the blankets and looked under the beds, just like wild animals!

When the officers reached the attic where the agents were hiding, three were killed in the ensuing shootout: one of the agents, the chief of the Gestapo in Bergen and a subordinate.

Take revenge by destroying the village

In retaliation, the National Commissioner Josef Terboven ordered the arrest of all men between the ages of 16 and 60. Including Minda’s father, Lars Elias Tell (37).

– a German tied his leg. That was the last time I saw my father. There were six men lined up outside the house. Then I feed the Germans with them.

Almost half of the men never dated. Nor is Minda’s father.

– I remember my aunt said: now you have to run away, because now something will happen.

Major damage: A house, an outbuilding, and a dock were blown to the ground.  Photo: Nordsjøfartmuseet / Museum Vest

Major damage: A house, an outbuilding, and a dock were blown to the ground. Photo: Nordsjøfartmuseet / Museum Vest

Terboven then ordered Telavåg to be completely razed to the ground. On 30 April 1942, the men were sent via Bergen and Grene to concentration camps, while the women and children under six were sent to Storetveit School and then to Framnes in Hardanger.

From the time Minda turned eight, she was separated from her mother and younger siblings and kept inside Storetveit School while German soldiers made sure no one was allowed out through the gate.

– We were not allowed to go out. Inside the office we got a bad rap from the Germans.

Lockdown: Children over the age of six were separated from their mothers and not allowed to leave Storetveit School.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Lockdown: Children over the age of six were separated from their mothers and not allowed to leave Storetveit School. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

denied the truth

One day one of the other girls asked Minda:

– Is your father’s name Lars Elias?

– yes.

– He’s been shot!

– No, his name is not Lars Elias.

Minda lied about her father because she refused to believe what she heard. Lars Elias Tille was executed in Trandome in October 1943.

The occupiers imposed the death penalty for helping anyone escape. The father was one of several people from Telavåg who were involved in illegal North Sea shipping.

Execution: Lars Elias Tell was shot dead in Trandum after being sentenced to death by the German occupiers.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Execution: Lars Elias Tell was shot dead in Trandum after being sentenced to death by the German occupiers. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

In the New Testament the family was sent to, Lars Elias wrote a tribute to the family before his execution:

Fight for everything you hold dear.

A total of 31 Telavåg men died in German concentration camps. The daily ration was two slices and some cabbage soup, says Jenny Hegvik, director of Nordsjøfartmuseet:

– They died from hard work, lack of food and inhumane conditions.

Grateful: Jenny Heggvik says it means a lot that someone who went through the war himself can tell new generations what it was like.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Grateful: Jenny Heggvik says it means a lot that someone who went through the war himself can tell new generations what it was like. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

I got a medal from the king

It was the Nordsjøfartmuseet that suggested that Minda Walborg-Olsen be awarded the King’s Order of Merit: “Standing up and putting on such a dramatic experience of terror like this cost her as a child, and how it has shaped her life since.”

Proud: The King's Order of Merit for Merit is on a table in Olsen's living room.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Proud: The King’s Order of Merit for Merit is on a table in Olsen’s living room. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

When she got the medal last fall, she was very surprised.

– It came like lightning out of the blue. I didn’t like it at the same time, but when Endreviken (mayor Tom George Endrevik) called, I had nothing else to do, she laughs.

Surprised: Minda Walborg-Olsen receives the Order of Merit from the Mayor of Oeggarden, Tom Georg Endrewijk.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Surprised: Minda Walborg-Olsen receives the Order of Merit from the Mayor of Oeggarden, Tom Georg Endrewijk. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

– Minda Walborg-Olsen is a person who has made a huge difference in many areas, said the mayor during the award ceremony.

Vebjørn Sand is looking forward to the new year

Because the pensioner has spoken out about the Telavåg tragedy to thousands of students, researchers, directors, artists and writers over several decades. In January, Vebjørn Sand will come to draw the 88-year-old.

She was previously awarded the Order of Merit for her efforts in the Health Red Cross and an Honorary Membership of Health Blandacour. It was her father who gave her the joy of singing.

When she sings the songs she heard from him, her voice breaks out.

Huge miss for my dad

– I am proud of my father, but I would rather live and have a father. I’ve missed Paper tremendously in my entire life. Growing up without a father…

Lars Elias Tell was buried with Norwegian soldiers standing guard and a crowd of mourners behind the coffin. Another prisoner thanked him for keeping silent about the resistance movement.

– I remember very well when the German prisoners returned home. My cousins ​​and my best friend had to go into town and park at the train station when the parents came home, and I envy them for that.

Her mother didn’t want to talk about the loss.

– The only thing is that when we passed the grave, she said; “There, Minda, lies your father. We weren’t meant to have more years together.”

Minda's mother had six children with Lars Elias Tell, who was executed at the age of 37.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Minda’s mother had six children with Lars Elias Tell, who was executed at the age of 37. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

I think Ukrainian children are in a worse situation

Olsen thinks often of the children in Ukraine who are now losing their parents and their homes.

– It’s so awful. They have nothing left. When we got back to Telavåg, we saw nothing but underground cellars. Even the foundation we had thrown in, the materials we were going to build – everything is gone!

It took the families four years to rebuild everything from scratch. When Crown Prince Olaf visited the hard-hit region of Telavog in 1947, the Crown Prince said:

“Constructive forces are stronger than the desire for destruction and barbarism.”

Sympathy: Minda Walborg-Olsen believes Ukrainian children are suffering as badly as she did not see when her home was blown up.  Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Sympathy: Minda Walborg-Olsen believes Ukrainian children are suffering as badly as she did not see when her home was blown up. Photo: Isac Skjevik Kvello/TV 2

Olsen hopes that Ukrainians will also find the strength to return home. Pay tribute to courage:

They must hope, they must persevere. It is important that I come back.

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