Kathe – Always Been in Norway
Named among the 10 best Scandinavian non-fiction books of the 2000s (2018)
With great care and impeccable handwriting the 15 year old Kathe Lasnik, student at a high school in Oslo, has written down her answers to the questions on “Questionnaire for Jews in Norway”. Answering the question “When did you arrive in Norway”, she has written: “I’ve always been in Norway”. The form is dated 16 November, 1942. Ten days later she, her father, her mother and a sister are transported to the ship Donau together with 528 other Jews. 1 December Kathe Lasnik is killed in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Two of her sisters managed to escape to Sweden.
Espen Søbye uses a biographical method to describe the life of an ordinary person who grew up in Norway between the wars. His source-based narrative follows Kathe Lasnik’s family from her parents come from Vilnius in Lithuania as refugees to Kristiania (Oslo) in 1908, up until the persecution, deportation and murder of this Norwegian family. This microhistorical method runs into great problems, because of the attempts to exterminate the entire family; all of their possessions, photographies and papers were destroyed.
I 2018 Kathe – Always Been in Norway was named one of the 10 best Scandinavian non-fiction books of the new millennium. The jury consisted of nine prominent critics, authors and academics from Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
From the jury statement:
“Tells the story of Kathe Lasnik who was sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, 15 years old, through archives and documents from her life. A skillful reconstruction of an individual fate which collided with the absurd tumults of world history and was crushed”