Carlo Santi

Carlo Santi came from Swedish and Italian stock, but both his parents were born in Trondheim. Santi grew up in Ila, and his father was a plastering craftsman working for the NDR (Nidaros Cathedral Restoration Workshop).
There was little academic tradition in the family, and it was therefore a proud event when Carlo passed the higher legal examination in 1937. The next year he established his own legal practice in Trondheim.
Much evidence indicates that Santi had some financial difficulties when the Germans occupied Norway in April 1940. His business was not doing well, and the war did not promise better prospects. During the first weeks of the occupation Santi and his young wife met some German soldiers in a restaurant. On 24 April one of these had invited himself to Santi's apartment. During the evening some problems arose, ending with Santi killing the guest with a pistol shot. The pistol belonged to the German.
Santi then fled from the town, but a wanted bulletin was quickly posted. He eventually made it north to Tromsø, allegedly to join the Norwegian resistance in its fight against the Germans. When he heard that his wife has been arrested by the Germans, he turned himself to the occupying authorities.
During the court case Santi explained that he had been powerfully provoked by statements the German had made, that they were both under the influence and that the situation had spiralled out of control. No premeditation was involved in the murder. In Norway the death penalty had long been abolished, but now the German occupation forces and their law applied. In spite of the strong efforts by the defence to prevent it, Santi was sentenced to death. All attempts at obtaining a pardon were in vain, and the young lawyer was executed by firing squad at Øysand in the early morning of 19 August. He was buried in Stavne cemetery.
Santi was in custody in Vollan local prison during the court case. Here he had confidential conversations with another prisoner, Captain Rei Sandberg. Santi allegedly told this man that the German possessed lists with names of Norwegian resistance fighters, and it was these he had attempted to get hold of. This information was made public in the book Vi ville slåss [We were determined to fight], which was published in 1945, and was used as the reason for mentioning Carlo Santi in the memorial tribute book Våre falne [Our fallen].
Whether or not there is uncertainty about the course of events on that fateful day and its motives, Carlo Santi was the first Norwegian who was sentenced to execution by the German occupation regime that lasted from 1940 to 1945.
Recommended reading: Rei Sandberg: Vi ville slåss [We were determined to fight]. Gyldendal, 1945

Author: Einar Rædergård