Kirsten Svineng (Mamma Karasjok) — a Sami hero

Kirsten Svineng (“Mamma Karasjok”, 1891 – 1980) was a Sami woman who lived most of her life in Karasjok, the Sami settlement that is now the home of the Norwegian Sami Parliament. She was an important Norwegian hero, showing exceptional courage during the Nazi occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1945. Hundreds of Serbian  prisoners of war were sent  to work under terrible conditions in occupied Norway, and one of the worst forced-labour camps was just outside Karasjok. Kirsten Svineng, along with other brave Karasjok citizens, risked her life to help the prisoners by giving  them food and sheltering escapees in her home. From there, she helped the escapees on their way to safety in Russia, and, incredibly, a number managed to get back to Yugoslavia. After the war ended, those former prisoners told their stories to Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. in 1957, he invited Mamma Karasjok to Belgrade for a special ceremony of recognition. It was her first trip outside Norway.

While she was still alive, the Norwegian author Per Hansson wrote her biography, Mamma Karasjok (Gyldendal Norsk Forlag 1970). Hansson’s book is a beautifully written tribute to this remarkable Sami woman. There does not seem to be a published translation to English, so Judith Anderson is working on the project. We will post chapters as the translations are completed.

Mamma Karasjok translation Chapter 1

Mamma Karasjok translation Chapter 2

Mamma Karasjok translation Chapter 3