Cissi Klein (1929-1943)

Cissi Klein's parents, originally from the Baltics, arrived in Norway around 1905. The family lived for a period of time in northern Norway, but eventually settled down with their own business in Trondheim. Here Cissi lived with her parents and her three-year-older brother Abraham in an apartment by Leütenhaven in the centre of town.

The most uncommon fact about Cissi Klein was that she was Jewish. Apart from that she was a quite ordinary schoolgirl in Trondheim. But it was this one fact that would determine the fate of Cissi and her family.
After Norway was occupied in 1940 life gradually became more difficult in Trondheim. Jews were particularly at risk due to the racist ideology of the Nazi occupiers.

Under martial law in the autumn of 1942 the situation in the Trondheim area became very dramatic. Jewish properties were confiscated, Jewish men aged 16 and older were arrested, and women and younger males were put under guard. Cissi was pulled out of her classroom in Kalvskinnet school by the police. On 27 November, around 70 Jews from Trondheim were transported south by train. Cissi was the youngest, and her father Wulf and her brother Abraham were also there.

After some weeks in the Bredtveit prison camp, 158 Norwegian Jews were sent by the prisoner ship Gotenland to Stettin in Poland. Men and women were kept separated, and it is doubtful that Cissi was allowed to be with her father and brother during the final months of her life. From Stettin they were transported by train to Berlin, where Jews from all over Europe were assembled in the synagogue. This occurred during the last days of February 1943. From Berlin the final stage of the journey was in freight cars direct to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Here end all traces of most of the prisoners from Trondheim who were transported there. Cissi, her father and brother were most likely killed in the gas chambers immediately on arrival on 3 March 1943.

Of the around 750 Norwegian Jews sent to concentration camps in German-controlled areas, 25 survived. Only a handful of the 72 from Trondheim made it back.

Even with this terrible story, Cissi Klein might have been forgotten today if the initiative had not been taken to raise a memorial stone for the Jewish war victims from Trondheim. Cissi was chosen as the symbol of these inconceivably evil acts. In 1995 a street close to Museumsplass was given Cissi Klein's name, and a memorial plaque was fixed on the wall of the house where she lived. In 1997 a memorial stone was unveiled in the park close by, which remind us of the child's complete inability to defend itself in war. Pupils from Kalvskinnet Primary School pay respect to the former pupil by laying down flowers here around 6 October each year, the day when the police took her from the school.

Author: Einar Rædergård