Updated: Sep 26
This post is dedicated to a friend who talked about her childhood in Norway and was interested in the collection since it was very small. Thank you Liv Risvold-Helliesen for your time, May you rest peacefully ✝
The photograph here shows Kriegsmarine Matrosen posing for a photograph at Bjørnfjell, Norway 1942. The Kriegsmarine matrosen can be seen standing in a group around the building signposted Bjørnffjell. Bjørnffjell is located in Narvik, near the western border of Sweden. The matrosen are seen wearing double breasted wool tunics, this seen very appropriate for the cold conditions as can be seen from snow in the foreground. All are seen smartly dressed and looking the same, also notably seen is the classic Kriegsmarine sailors cap. One matrose, seen standing in the centre can be seen holding a pipe in one hand. Pipes were common across the Wehrmacht as a way of smoking. He is also notably seen with some awards, like a few others that are dotted in the group. Unfortunately due to the focus and distance the are unclear. Also notable is that some matrosen have trade patches, also due to focus and distance these are unclear but they would show the unique trade that the matrose has. Also seen on the furthest right is an officer that appears to be of the rank Oberleutnant zur see [Lieutenant (Senior)], seen wearing a greatcoat and officers crusher cap. He is also notably seen with a dress dagger. The Oberleutnant zur see is also seen with two blue "X" on him, this like seen in many other photographs was a way of marking someone or themselves in a photograph. The cursive sütterline reverse attached reads, "A little sunny hike". This could be a lighted hearted joke as the cold conditions of snow can be seen, or the breif hike after travel could have been sunny and notable.
The Kriegsmarine sailors are suggested to of travelled from Bergen to Bjørnfjell as seen in the photograph. The reverse clearly reads "Bergen 1942". Bergen being occupied by German forces on the 9th April 1940, just before the Battle of Narvik started. The matrosen seen here travelling from this coastal city and port, travelling inland to Bjørnfjell. Travelling from Bergen to Bjørnfjell, by today's standards takes a day of travelling. However this at time it could of taken longer. Like many places across occupation of the Axis forces, taking group photographs at monuments or iconic landmarks became a trend as well as a way to show a trophy for what their nation had achieved in occupation. Bjørnfjel became one of these famous or somewhat iconic spot for the Wehrmacht to have photographs taken. Famous other photographs show Fallschirmjäger around the same building with the iconic sign.
As seen towards the background behind the group of matrosen can be seen other buildings as well as a flagpole. Not only at Bjørnfjell was their this iconic place to be photographed but it was also a HQ for the Wehrmacht, in particular the Kriegsmarine. This is due to some sinking of some cruisers, they needed a place to operate from. Also available not far from the location was ports. The matrosen seen here likely a part of a S-boat fleet that was passing through the area. Another notable point about Bjørnfjell was that there was in fact a Prisoner of war camp (POW) in the town.
This is a Crisp example of Kriegsmarine Matrosen taken after the Narvik battle, taken at an iconic place at Bjørnfjell, Narvik. The sign of Bjørnfjell can also be seen on the Norwegian archives, This photograph seen here is an original and is a really good and rare example of individual Matrosen who have visited the site. Seen on Agfa- Brovira paper !