Norwegian POW Museum Ostrzeszów
The Norwegian Prisoner of War Museum is a department of the City Museum in Ostrzeszów , which is about 130 km southeast of Poznan in western Poland . It houses memorabilia of the Norwegian prisoners of war who were held there by the German Wehrmacht during World War II .
Prisoner of War Camp Heilag XXI
Ostrzeszów was called Schildberg during the Second World War and was part of the Kempen (Wartheland) district in the Poznan province . In this place there was a prisoner of war returnees camp, the "Heilag XXI Schildberg". The camp was occupied by around 1,150 prisoners of war from Norway and belonged to military district XXI (Posen).
Beginnings and structure of the collection
The initiative to set up the museum came from Eyvind Grundt from Moss ( Norway ), who worked in Poland in 1982 on behalf of the Norwegian Red Cross . After completing his duties there, he went in search of the place where his father was interned as a prisoner of war from 1943 to 1945 . Grundt only knew the German name of the place and so the research was difficult. Linguistic barriers and the current state of emergency made the search even more difficult. Although at that time every foreigner who asked questions was met with suspicion, Grundt came into contact with Lechosław Nowakowski by chance. The language teacher at the city high school in Ostrzeszów was well aware of the city's history and, like Grundt, was interested in the fate of the Norwegian prisoners of war. The two found that the building of the largest vocational school in the area had been part of the camp and assumed that it was the place where Grundt's father was held. While searching in the school basement, they found a matchbox from Nitedals Tændstiksfabrik, a bar of soap from Waldemar Skjoldborg and a dented tin plate with the name “Kaptein Vagn Enger” engraved on it. The finds were given to the director of the Municipal Museum, Josef Janas , to form the basis for a small Norwegian section of the museum.
In the years that followed, other items were found in Norway and Poland that were shown in special exhibitions. A special feature of the museum are the image documents from the prison camp. One prisoner had managed to smuggle in a small camera and get film reels from the German guards against cigarettes and chocolate from packages of the Red Cross. In this way he was able to document the different sides of prisoner life in a unique way. Most of his photographs cover the walls of the museum as enlargements.
The City Museum is housed in the old town hall on Rathausplatz in the city center. The collection of the POW Museum has been on view in renovated exhibition rooms since 1996. The collection of items from the warehouse continues to this day. The museum has now developed into a center of excellence for Norwegian prisoners of war. An extensive book collection is being built and brochures are being worked on that will shed light on the fate of the prisoners of war.
The POW Museum was visited by more than 6,000 people in 2003, mostly Poles, but also groups, families and individuals from Norway.