A new film exploring a dark chapter of Norwegian Second World War history will be screened at Churchill College on Wednesday evening (6pm).

The film asks questions about whether one should reveal the past, in this case a brutal and undignified past.

Heidi Morstang

In Transit looks at the repatriation of the remains of Norwegian volunteers who fought alongside German SS forces in 1944 – touching upon the legacy of this divisive and troubling episode on individuals, families and communities 70 years on.

Film-maker Heidi Morstang, who will take part in a Q&A following the screening, said: “In Transit deals with the factual aftermath of a battle on the Eastern Front, where a potential homecoming of the remains of Norwegian political traitors is the central focus. 

“The film looks at contemporary issues regarding reconciliation and closure. It touches upon current politics reconciling painful aspects of recent history.” 

Set in an area of Karelia on the Russian/Finnish border close to the Arctic Circle, the film is a cinematic investigation revealing history through landscape and throwing light on the 120 Norwegian soldiers killed fighting Soviet forces.

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, without being retrieved or formally buried for over 60 years. The Norwegian SS volunteers are still regarded as political traitors by the country of their birth. 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 ongoing.

Added Morstang: “The film asks questions about whether one should reveal the past, in this case a brutal and undignified past. In Transit explores the physical, psychological and emotional landscapes that the battle and its legacy occupy. It deals with memory and perhaps more importantly, the forgotten and `buried’ chapters in history. It is an aspect of painful heritage.”

Heidi Morstang is a Norwegian photographer and film-maker, and a Lecturer in Photography at Plymouth University. Heidi will show her 20-minute film In Transit accompanied by a series of photographs at Churchill College. The screening is free and further screenings take place on: March 1 (2pm), March 5 (6pm) and March 9 (2pm).

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