The Partisan Museum in Kiberg - history and modern days
The Partisan Museum manages the partisan history in Finnmark and North Troms and the history of the Kiberg community, which was the local community in Norway that provided the majority of partisans to resist the German occupation during World War II.
All the families in Kiberg were affected as almost all of them lost someone in the resistance struggle.
This gives the Partisan Museum a strong foothold in Kiberg. Moreover, the National Partisan Monument is located in Kiberg. Here King Harald V made his historic speech in 1992 and gave the partisans full recognition for their efforts during World War II and apologized for the treatment the survivors had received after the war.
Active dissemination of partisan history is of great importance to the Partisan Museum, which takes place in collaboration with the Norwegian Military Comrades’ Association (NMKF). In the framework of the collaboration, two Partisan Memorial Trips were organized from Murmansk to Kiberg / Vardø in connection with the two liberation days in Finnmark: 25 October and 8 May. During these trips, wreaths were laid in Norway and Russia at the memorials dedicated to Norwegian partisans.
The Partisan Museum has established its own guide service based on the Norwegian-Russian Expert Group for Partisan History, which provides tours both in the museum and in the neighborhood where cultural monuments related to partisan history and the war in Finnmark are located.
The Partisan Museum is an independent museum, run by people in Kiberg and Vardø without government support. The museum’s economy is closely linked to income from entrance fees, which help pay for current expenses such as municipal fees, electricity and insurance. The operation is regulated by a professional and administrative act which has been adopted by the museum association Vardøhus Museumsforening. The act is based on UNESCO’s principles and states that professional issues are approved by the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum in accordance with the collaboration agreement.
The professional basis and human capital of the Partisan Museum
The population in Kiberg and the surrounding area is still an important source of knowledge of partisan history and part of history itself. The combination of local historical research in the Partisan Museum and the interest in the topic of the families in Kiberg means a lot for the knowledge production and dissemination in the Partisan Museum in the future. The Partisan Museum still has regular visits by partisans’ descendants.
For many years the Partisan Museum has been creating a professional network that now exists at international, national and local levels. Without any doubt it has become an important asset for the Partisan Museum, where both collection and dissemination of knowledge will continue and involve new generations.
There is currently no research on partisans at the national level. A comprehensive research project on the war in the north, which is managed by the University of Tromsø, as far as we know, has not researchers dedicated to this field of study. The Partisan Museum therefore facilitates that researchers are given access to primary sources and the museum’s professional network.
There are a number of articles and books about the partisans. Hans Kristian Eriksen, Kjell Fjørtoft and Tønne Huitfeldt were the authors who opened the topic.
The partisan history differs from the rest of the domestic resistance because the partisans continued the resistance struggle using the available supply lines even after the King and the government left the country. Such supply lines were found in the Soviet Union.
The Partisan Museum also has a cooperation agreement with the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum. The agreement includes the following areas of cooperation:
“Knowledge exchange: exchange of sources and archives within common museum and history areas.
Network exchange: introduction and links to relevant national and international contacts and partners.
Project development: joint dissemination and research projects.
Mutual advice in museum matters”.
In several contexts, questions have been asked as to whether partisan history in Norway is based to a large extent on the occupier’s sources, and whether this has affected the perception of partisans in the post-war period. In the occupier’s sources the partisans are enemies, spies and saboteurs. On the other hand, in Russian materials the Norwegian partisans are heroes who sacrificed their lives to fight fascism in Europe.
This has lead to the fact that the Partisan Museum has applied to Russian sources to balance the situation with the Norwegian sources. Through the Norwegian-Russian Expert Group, the Partisan Museum has gained broader access to Russian sources, publications and expertise. On the Russian side, both the Murmansk Regional Museum of Local Lore and the Northern Fleet Museum in Severomorsk are part of the professional network.
The Partisan Museum is also an active manager of cultural monuments related to partisan history. Vardøhus Museumsforening owns Bruvollhytta (Bruvoll’s cabin) in Indre Syltevik, which is the last remaining partisan base. The Partisan Museum has established a project group to preserve the cabin as a cultural monument. The group includes professor Einar Niemi and professor Ivar Bjørklund, both of whom have published articles about partisans. This collaboration helps provide new historical material about the partisan activity in Indre Syltevik. The use of the cabin is in itself dissemination of partisan history.