In 1944 approximately one hundred and twenty Norwegian soldiers serving voluntarily in a German SS unit were killed fighting Soviet forces in the area of the Kaprolat and Hasselmann hills in Karelia. Only a handful of the SS-men managed to escape. The rest of the battalion was either imprisoned in Soviet POW camps, or shot dead and left, unidentified, and neither retrieved or formally buried, for over 60 years. In Norway, the Norwegian SS volunteers are still regarded as political traitors.
In 2005 locals unearthed human remains under a thin layer of soil. Since then, locals, historians and forensic archaeologists have located more remains aiming to identify and arrange proper burials for the dead. This work is still on going.
The work deals with contemporary issues of difficulties of reconciliation and closure, and with current politics reconciling the many painful aspects of history, such as the potential homecoming of remains of political traitors. It deals with memory and perhaps more importantly, the forgotten and `buried’ chapters in history. The photographs and the film In Transit is a visual response to the events of human intervention in a historical landscape where conflicts of the past have taken place.
The photographs show visible traces of war trenches, sites of grenade explosions and sites where fallen soldiers were excavated. Only leaves from fallen trees since 1944 have gradually buried the dead, and layers of time have shaped this Arctic landscape. The trees have grown since 1944 when the landscape was open and only a few trees were on site.
The objects depicted in the images were used by the soldiers and excavated during the 2011 expedition.
The photographic series was made during the making of the film In Transit, in Russian Karelia on the 24th and 25th June 2011.