Just outside Tonsberg, Westfold county, in the summer of 1942, the Germans began to build a detention camp for political opponents and Jews. It was the Norwegian minister-president Vidkun Quisling who took the initiative to establish a prison camp for people nick named "jössinger" (norwegian patriots). These had on the national day of May 17 the same year shown their patriotism by waving "chicken rings" in the colors of the Norwegian flag. This angered Quisling to such an extent that he promised to lock up all "jössinger". There by came the camp to be called Quisling’s chicken farm. However, the Germans were initially opposed to establishing a camp that was subordinated to the Norwegian police ministry but gave in. The camp was called Berg and the idea was that it would have a capacity of about 3000 prisoners but this was never met. At most sat between 500 – 600 prisoners in the camp.

The first prisoners who came to the camp at the end of October 1942 were not jessinger, but 60 jews. These were soon followed by another 290 Jews who, like the former, were arrested at raids. The raids had been ordered by the head of the Norwegian state police, Karl Marthinsen. A month later, 227 of the Jews were sent to Oslo. There they, along with other Jews from Norway, were forced to step on the ship D/S Danube that brought them to Stettin and on to Auschwitz where the majority were murdered. Of the 227 Jews from Berg, only seven survived the war. Jews who were not evacuated from Berg were Jews who were married to Norwegian women who were not jews. They remained in the camp until their liberation in May 1945.

At the end of January 1943, the first "jössinger" arrived at the camp. The prisoners who sat in the camp were forced to slave labor, among other things, with the expansion of the camp. The camp was the only one in Norway run by Norwegian co-runners and was subject to the Norwegian state police. The camp came when it was at its largest to consist of about ten barracks. In addition to accommodation barracks, several prison cells were also set up in the basement under the kitchen. Although there was abuse on the part of the guards, no prisoners died in the camp. However, two Jews died shortly after the liberation as a result of the captivity in the camp. Several of the Norwegian guards and officers who served at Berg were sentenced to prison terms after the war. From the end of the war until 1951, Berg was a detention camp for Norwegian collaborators.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2017).

Address: Hortensveien 30, 3125 Tönsberg.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

All barracks except the kitchen were demolished after the war and replaced with new ones. Between 1951 and 1975, Berg was assigned different functions in Norwegian correctional facilities. From 1976 to today (2017) it is an open prison where prisoners can apply to serve the last time of their sentence. These are prisoners whose relapse probability and escape propensity according to the Norwegian correctional system is more or less non-existent.

Of the traces of the war, the prison cells in the kitchen basement remain and they can be visited if you contact the prison in advance. In the cells there is a small exhibition about the camp, the guards and the prisoners. In addition to the prison cells, the administration building is also left, which was located just outside the camp. It was called the white house and there was also a mass for the officers. In 2017, the house was empty but has been renovated and from the prison side there is a hope to expand the prison’s capacity by using the house.

As late as 2012 and on the 70th day of the first Jews’ arrival at the camp, a memorial monument was established at the prison entrance. In 2015, a memorial trail was also established around the former camp with information boards about Berg’s history, including the time before the second world war. There is also a preserved part of the railway and the place where the Jews arrived in October 1942 and from which they were deported to Oslo a month later.

Follow up in books: Höhne, Heinz: The Order of the Death’s Head: The story of Hitler’s SS (1969).