A boy in wartime: St. Olaf prof recalls Nazi invasion of Norway

Odd Lovoll
Odd Lovoll, a retired St. Olaf College professor and author, photographed Feb. 24, 2015 at his home in Northfield, Minn.
Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

Click on the audio to hear more of Odd Lovoll's stories of Norway's invasion and occupation during World War II.

The Nazis invaded Norway the morning of April 9, 1940. By the afternoon, they controlled the nation's seven major ports.

Retired St. Olaf College professsor Odd Lovoll was 5 years old at the time, but the invasion and life under occupation remain fresh in his mind.

His father was at sea in 1940 with the country's whaling fleet when the Nazis invaded. The ships could not risk a return to Norway. They went instead to England and Lovoll's father spent the war years in Seattle with relatives.

The rest of the family lived on their small isolated coastal farm next to a fjord with daily reminders of the occupation. "I saw a couple of ships sink right in front of our farm," he recalled recently. "There were dead bodies ... these are difficult things for children to see."

Now 80, Lovoll is an authority on Norwegian immigration history. He's the author of more than a dozen books on the topic, including a new work he'll discuss April 21 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. He lives daily, though, with the memories of when the Nazis came to Norway.

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