Kathe – always been in Norway
The war destiny of an ordinary girl
In 2017, this book was named the second-best Norwegian biography published after 1945 by the members of The Norwegian Non-fiction Writers And Translators Association. In 2018, it was selected to be one of the 10 best Scandinavian non-fiction books published after year 2000. This book is also translated into German.
Conscientious to a degree and in her best handwriting, fifteen-year-old Kathe Lasnik, a pupil at Oslo’s Fagerborg School, completed the «Questionnaire for Jews in Norway». To the question «When did you come to Norway?» she answered «Always lived in Norway». The questionnaire is dated 16th of November 1942. Ten days later, together with 532 other Jews, Kathe, her mother, father and a sister are herded on board the troopship Donau. December 1st Kathe Lasnik was murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Two of her sisters managed to reach the safety of neutral Sweden in time.
Søbye employs a biographical technique to tell the story of a perfectly ordinary girl who grew up in the Norway of the interwar years. His source-based account charts the course of Kathe Lasnik’s family from the day her parents arrive in Kristiania in 1908 as refugees from Vilnius, to settle in an eastern part of the inner city, through to their persecution, deportation and eventual murder the murder of a Norwegian family. The author encounters considerable difficulties with the micro historical method he has chosen to adopt, because a determined attempt was made to wipe the family off the face of the earth, to which end all its belongings, papers and photographs were destroyed. This heartbreaking biography is a sober and well-documented account of one of the bleakest parts of European history.
Espen Søbye (b. 1954) is a Norwegian author and literary critic. He is educated as a philosopher at the University of Oslo and employed at Statistics Norway. His authorship consists of biographies and works on historical statistics. He was named literary critic of the year in
.Søbye.s portrait of Kathe Lasnik is not just a powerful book; it is also a kind of necessity.. Book review in the newspaper Klassekampen, Dec. 2003.