Sunday stroll to the 1944 tunnel

We returned to Bjørnevatn for a very special Sunday stroll with Magne Jakobsen, the gentleman we stood next to during the 70-year anniversary celebrations at the centre square of Kirkenes. Bjørnevatn, some 8.5km south of Kirkenes has an iron ore open-pit mine. One of the tunnels there provided shelter from bombings for Magne and some 3500 people in the Autumn of 1944. 70 years and 1 day later, he was back at the ‘1944 tunnel’ for the first time.

A typical Finnmark poster-boy, Magne is a jack of all trades. Before and after the mandatory military service, he worked as a horse courier delivering firewood, coal and goods. Between his land jobs he refined iron ore at a separation plant in Kirkenes and worked as an engineer apprentice on a cargo ship in the 'America Line', also venturing out to East Africa. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

A typical Finnmark poster-boy, Magne is a jack of all trades. Before and after the mandatory military service, he worked as a horse courier delivering firewood, coal and goods. Between his land jobs he refined iron ore at a separation plant in Kirkenes and worked as an engineer apprentice on a cargo ship in the ‘America Line’, also venturing out to East Africa. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

How to fill a suitcase without it weighing a ton © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Preparing for Magne’s tunnel luggage: How to fill a suitcase without it weighing a ton © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Agent Ikonen leaving the premises © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Agent Ikonen leaving the premises © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

interview with coffee and sandwiches © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

interview with coffee and sandwiches © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The day he and his family fled their home to the tunnel was very tense. However, he has no bad memories of the place and it was home to many. They had food, heat, electricity and even a small hospital. For the 6-year old Magne it was a fun time. He made many friends in the tunnel with whom I has stayed in contact with to this day. He remembers running around inside with other kids and even if they didn't have toys, he remembers playing with anything they found lying around. Most days he was told by adults to stay put near the bunk beds. The day of the liberation is equally vivid; he climbed to the top of the bunk bed to have a better view of the Russians who arrived to the tunnels to greet everybody. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The day Magne and his family fled their home to the tunnel was very tense. However, he has no bad memories of the place and it was home to many. They had food, heat, electricity and even a small hospital. For the 6-year old Magne it was a fun time. He made many friends in the tunnel with whom he has stayed in contact with to this day. He remembers running around inside with other kids and even if they didn’t have toys, they played with anything they found lying around. Most days he was told by adults to stay put near the bunk beds. The day of the liberation is equally vivid; he climbed to the top of the bunk bed to have a better view of the Russians who arrived to the tunnels to greet everybody. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The tunnel itself was very secured as A/S Sydvaranger had started early in the summer of 1944 building it up as an air raid shelter which could be used for long periods © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The tunnel itself was very secured as A/S Sydvaranger had started early in the summer of 1944 building it up as an air raid shelter which could be used for long periods © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

After the liberation by the Red Army, people searched for houses from Bjørnvatn and Kirkenes they could move into, but found none. All the buildings were bombed and burned to ground, so the tunnel at Bjørnevatn ended up being a home for some even after the liberation © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

After the liberation by the Red Army, people searched for houses from Bjørnvatn and Kirkenes they could move into, but found none. All the buildings were bombed and burned to ground, so the tunnel at Bjørnevatn ended up being a home for some even after the liberation © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Few houses were eventually found in Jakobsnes on the other side of Prestøya. Perhaps thanks to a Northern Europe's biggest sawmill, some houses had survived. Several families moved into each house and even though they were great houses, there was precious little space for everybody. Magne remembers spending quite a lot of time with the Russians who had small cabins in the area. After some time at the sawmill, his family moved into barracks before his father built a house in the Kirkenes city center. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Few houses were eventually found in Jakobsnes on the other side of Prestøya. Perhaps thanks to a Northern Europe’s biggest sawmill, some houses had survived. Several families moved into each house and even though they were great houses, there was precious little space for everybody. Magne remembers spending quite a lot of time with the Russians who had small cabins in the area. After some time at the sawmill, his family moved into barracks before his father built a house in the Kirkenes city center. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The ever-glamorous poses © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The ever-glamorous poses © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Having lived in a tunnel, travelled the world from Brooklyn to East Africa and survived a war,' Life right now isn't overtly sensational' Magne says. But he feels positive about Kirkenes' future, which he can foresee being influenced by the iron ore and oil industries. Having followed the changes of both the building and the location of the hospital throughout his life, he is looking forward to seeing the new one taking shape. His only worry is that the Nye Kirkenes Sykehus might be a little bit on the small side. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Having lived in a tunnel, travelled the world from Brooklyn to East Africa and survived a war,’ Life right now isn’t overtly sensational’ Magne says. But he feels positive about Kirkenes’ future, which he can foresee being influenced by the iron ore and oil industries. Having followed the changes of both the building and the location of the hospital throughout his life, he is looking forward to seeing the new one taking shape. His only worry is that the New Kirkenes Hospital might be a little bit on the small side. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

When it comes to communicating the history for younger generations, Magne finds it peculiar that they aren't more curious about local historical events. He wasn't absolutely convinced whether the 70th birthday deserved such a hullabaloo and found it slightly excessive compared to the attention the northern history otherwise gets. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

When it comes to communicating the history for younger generations, Magne finds it peculiar that they aren’t more curious about local historical events. He wasn’t absolutely convinced whether the 70th birthday deserved such a hullabaloo and found it slightly excessive compared to the attention the northern history otherwise gets. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Liberated yet again © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Liberated yet again © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

IRON © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

IRON © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

And so it happened that petrol found its way into the diesel tank © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

And so it happened that petrol found its way into the diesel tank © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

By chance, Egil from Flytekai 1 witnessed the event © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

By chance, Egil from Flytekai 1 witnessed the event © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

We were easily distracted from the mishap by getting to ride in the truck © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

We were easily distracted from the mishap by getting to ride in the truck © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Not so good news, but not bad news either. To be continued © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

Not so good news, but not bad news either. To be continued © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

 

One comment

  1. Pingback: Rune and the Barents cabaret – Take two! | Time is a ship that never casts anchor

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