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The Norwegian-Czech friendship from the war continues


John-Henrik Johansen lives in Oslo. He was born in Narvik in northern Norway.

During the war Narvik was of strategic importance to the Germans because of the Swedish iron ore which was shipped from there and which was important to the German war industry. Thousands of Polish and Czech forcibly displaced workers worked in the town.

John-Henrik remembers how his father helped and supported several Czech and Polish forced labourers. He still remembers when the workers came to them at home at the end of the war to bid farewell. One of the Czech workers, Mr. Kališ, gave his father his picture where was written a text of gratitude. John-Henrik still has this photo.

His father corresponded with his Czech friends after the war. In the 1960s he was invited to Czechoslovakia by Jan Kališ. They both went to Ostrava.

John-Henrik later worked as a history-teacher. After he was retired he wrote down the history of his family and not least the lifelong friendship between his father and the Czech workers. In memory of the Czech-Norwegian friendship he even wrote a book. It was published first in Norwegian and then in Czech with the title: Czech forcibly displaced workers in Norway during the Second World War.

He started to travel regularly to the Czech Republic in the 1990s, searching for other Czech workers in Norway who had been his father’s friends. He still regrets that he didn’t ask his father more about the Czech workers, because many questions will remain unanswerable.

John-Henrik is still working on other publications on Norwegian local history.


Filozofická fakulta
Univerzita Karlova
nám. Jana Palacha 1/2
116 38 Praha 1