Book Chronology

1854 The Norwegian government repeals the law that forbids Jews from settling in Norway.  The Selikowitz and Levin patriarchs are among the early settlers.  By 1940, there are approximately 2,000 Jews in Norway. 
1940 Germany invades Norway and Denmark on April 9
1942 Gestapo orders the Norwegian State Police to carry out the systematic arrest of the country’s Jews.  Close to 800 men, women and children are deported to Auschwitz, including seven members of the Levin family.  Only 28 Norwegian men survive.
1942 Four-year-old Irene Levin and her family are among the nearly 1,200 Jews who manage to escape to neutral Sweden.  All assets owned by Norwegian Jews are confiscated.
1943 The arrest of the Danish Jews begins.  More than 5,000 people – about 90 percent of Denmark’s Jewish population – are saved, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Danish police.  Still, 500 Danish Jews are sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in the Czech Republic.  Nearly all of them survive.
1945 Norway is liberated.  The Norwegian Jews who had been in exile in Sweden return to their devastated homeland, and begin to rebuild their community and their lives.
1945 - 1970 The post-war years are marked by the gradual resettlement and reconstruction of Norway’s Jewish community.
1947 700 people from various displaced persons camps in Europe arrive in Norway to start new lives.  Irene’s father, Marcus Levin, continues his work with The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (called The Joint).
1951 Norway becomes the first country to allow the so-called “minus” refugees – families with at least one member who is ill, primarily with tuberculosis – to settle in their nation.  Marcus Levin spends most of his free time on this work.
1961 Irene marries Martin Berman, an American medical student, and moves to the United States.  Irene pursues a career as a translator, specializing in Scandinavian languages.  One of the highlights of her work is translating the plays of Norway’s most famous playwright, Henrik Ibsen, which are produced in theaters around the U.S.
1960 Marcus Levin is awarded The Gold Medal of Merit by King Olaf of Norway for his continuous work helping Jewish refugees.
1965 Marcus Levin dies at the age of 66.
1967 Rosa Levin, Irene’s mother, dies at the age of 63.
1967 Irene becomes an American citizen in Atlanta, Georgia where Martin Berman is fulfilling his military obligations at Fort McPherson during the Vietnam War.
1969 Irene and Martin move to Connecticut where they raise three daughters.
1995 After an unprecedented public debate, the Norwegian government decides to return some of the funds that were confiscated by the Germans during the War to the Norwegian Jews who were disenfranchised during the Holocaust.  Some of the remaining funds are allocated to support the establishment of a Holocaust Center in Oslo.
2005 Irene’s journey back in time begins.
2007 Irene teams up with the late Dr. Stephen Feinstein of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota to develop and participate in a seminar on Norway and the Holocaust.  Arnfinn Moland, Director of Norway’s Resistance Museum and a participant at the seminar, urges Irene to turn her presentation into a book.
2008 The book, “Vi skal plukke poteter”, Flukten fra Holocaust, written in Norwegian, is launched in September at Norway’s Resistance Museum.  It receives excellent reviews from Norway’s press.
2010 The English language version of Irene’s book, “We are going to pick potatoes”, Norway and the Holocaust, the Untold Story, is published in the U.S.  Irene’s experiences researching and writing the book inspire her to share this remarkable story with audiences in her adopted country. 

 

 

 

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Past Events

  • Sept 2012
    An event is being planned at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in New York City


  • Sept 24 2012

    Learning in Retirement
    Stamford, CT

  • Oct 2012

    Music City Vikings
    Nashville, Tennessee

  • Nov 2012

    The Royal Norwegian Embassy Washington, D.C. George Washington Univ.
    Commemoration of the 70th year anniversary of the deportation of Norway’s Jews.

  • Nov 9-10 2012

    Temple Israel
    Minneapolis, MN

More Events