The Rebirth of North Norway

Courtesy Reuters

IT IS interesting to speculate upon the reasons for the sustained attention which Norway is giving to her long-neglected northern provinces. Is it due to the international crisis and the dangers of the new common border with Russia? Crisis is not new to the north and the border has often in the past been shared with Russia. Is it an expression of greater Norwegian nationalism? As early as the fourteenth century, Norwegian kings jealously guarded their Lapland-marches and built a fortress to assert their domain. Is it due to economic factors? The northern fisheries and other industries are ancient and have always been linked with the south. Have the opportunities for settlement in Nordland, Troms and Finnmark been the vital factor? For centuries large colonies have migrated from the south in times of famine or misfortune. Can it have stemmed from sympathy in the wake of the German "scorched earth" policy? The Russians have raided and burned along the coasts in times past. Is it the threat of radicalism and disaffection? This threat exists, but has been greater in earlier centuries.

The explanation for the Norwegian Government's postwar concern probably includes all of these reasons, but there is a new and overriding explanation--the budding awareness everywhere of the North, and the world-wide push into the Big Frontier. The push is stimulated by scientific developments which enable men to deal with the problems of the North with new effectiveness, especially the development of rapid means of communication. And, not least, it is stimulated by the new political importance of all the world's northern regions.

During World War II the German occupation of northern Norway was rapacious and cruel. But among its by-products were the construction of airfields (from which the Allied convoys to Russia were bombed) and of continuous highway links in the extreme northeast and in Finland. In 1944 the Germans were driven back by the Soviet Army and burned the province of Finnmark with a senseless thoroughness. Since thousands of people

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