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A Reason for Panic 1

Freda Isaksen

Why would airplanes be flying overhead in this small city? The inhabitants were well aware that war was spreading around the neighboring countries of Europe as the Germans were ruthlessly occupying peaceful states and the opposing nations were striking back. But amongst the Scandinavian countries there was never an inkling that the countries by the North Sea would fall as victims. We who lived in Norway thought we were safe from the conflict whilst we knew where our sympathies lay.

Before retiring as usual on April 7, 1940, we listened to the late news report on short wave radio which was the most reliable source for accuracy. War was raging amongst the fighting nations. We were awakened from sleep by the overwhelming noise of many propeller driven airplanes flying over and around our house, this had never occured before. First we looked out the window and saw this unbelievable phenomenon, the full moon was overshadowed and darkened by low flying black machines. We rushed to the radio and at once heard the shocking announcement that Norway had been invaded by the Germans and was now a part of the German Reich. It was not to be believed! Could two people be having the same impossible dream? We rushed to the telephone to call our brother who lived in the center of town and he verified that German soldiers wearing swastikas were indeed marching in the city streets. Our first reaction was horror that our peaceful country was occupied by a tyrannical enemy, then immediately panic followed as realisation came to our horrified minds and we became aware that not only would our country be involved in a world-wide war, but we as Jews would be especially vulnerable to the evil of the enemy. In fact it was our two brothers who were amongst the first victims when they were shot by the Nazis for the crime of listening to short wave radio.

Of course Norwegian military forces on land and sea immediately fought alongside the Allied nations to eventually end the war in victory, whilst the name of the infamous Quisling became internationally famous in history as a symbol of a traitor to his country.

The panic that had overcome us that dreadful night was well founded because the events of that dreadful night changed our whole future, in fact never again would I retire to my bed in that same bedroom.


  1. For the context of this story, see Freda’s Autobiography.

Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at

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