The film “Da Byen Ble Stille”, english title “When the city went quiet”, serves to bring back memories of the Jewish people living in Tromsø from 1910 to 1945. They had found a peaceful town far north, beyond the arctic circel and established there with their families. They were well integrated in the culture, sports, shopping districts and the daily life of the city. Then came World War II where German and Norwegian Nazis participated in a looting and genocide that is perhaps the greatest tragedy in this country’s history. During the initial work on this project it was striking to us, that little or nothing existed in terms of memory and knowledge from these 50 or so fellow citizens, or about what happened in Tromsø in this tragic war. It is also striking how difficult it is for many to talk about this topic today. Both the victims’ and perpetrators’ descendants have very limited knowledge of what happened. Most also lack the courage to talk, as if the trauma is overwhelming, or as if guilt is inherited through ancestry? Public archives, museums, authors, etc. have failed to process this part of the national story. There are some documents that remain unavailable to public viewing. This project’s main task is to prevent the success of the Nazi’s plan to destroy not only the people but also their memories.
Furthermore, it is our goal to, as best we can, carry history into the present. Look at what mechanisms apply and think about the consequences of a lack of acknowledgement of our own problematic history. Even more challenging is it to ask about, or why, similar resurgence of extremism occurs in many places today? Do we stigmatize other cultures, religions and ethnic groups and what does it lead to? Is it possible to arm ourselves against the repetition of historical mistakes without first establishing the facts and truth about our own recent past?
The project is set up as a CROSS MEDIA project that consists of several different elements that work together to communicate and illuminate the themes in the best possible manner and to multiple audiences. Website www.dabyenblestille.no will serve as a hub for the film, book, and the interactive archive and several upcoming features, promotions and perhaps a teaching tool.
Some aspects of the project are under construction, while others are at the planning stage. The outcome depends partly on funding and how we successfully collaborate with other potential partners.