The persecution of Jews in Norway during World War 2

No register of Jews in Statistics Norway


Did Statistics Norway have a register of Jews before and during World War 2, and was this used to track down Jews who were then deported to the Nazi concentration camps? This has been asserted publicly on a few occasions lately, but has no basis in reality.

It was mainly lists of names and addresses from the Norwegian police and the statistical office of the Norwegian fascist party “Nasjonal Samling” (NS) which were used during the deportation of Norwegian Jews to concentration camps in Germany.

Information about Jews in the 1930 census

In the 1866 census, Jews were for the first time counted as a group, in connection with the registration of dissenters; religious communities outside the Norwegian state church. There were 1359 members of the Mosaic faith according to the 1930 census, the last to be held before World War 2. This number was printed in “Trossamfund” (Religious communities), the second publication from the census, and members of the Mosaic faith were here distributed according to counties (cities and district settlements).

The statistical office of the NS sent a letter to Statistics Norway, dated 29 January 1941, where they asked for statistics on Jews distributed by county and city level. Statistics Norway responded that this information was publicly available in the aforementioned publication. The statistical office of the NS considered these numbers outdated for their purposes, but the statistics may have been used at the Wannsee Conference in January of 1942 when the extermination of the Jews of Europe was planned and approved by the Nazi leadership in Germany.

Lists from the Norwegian police and the statistical office of the NS

Neither the published figures nor the census records from the 1930 census were used in the registration, arrest and subsequent deportation of Jews to Germany. It was the Norwegian police which compiled the lists of Jews. In January of 1942 all Jews were forced to have their passport stamped with the letter J, and everyone with a J in their passport had to fill out the questionnaire “Jews in Norway”. The statistical office of the NS was responsible for this questionnaire. The lists of names and addresses of the Norwegian police formed the basis for the deportations to the concentrations camps in October and November of 1942.

Information from municipal population registers, mainly the one in Oslo (established in 1906), was in some instances used by the police to find updated address information.

The creation of a central population register in 1942

In 1942, the German authorities in Norway initiated the creation of a central population register for the whole country, one reason being that only about half the population was registered in the existing municipal registers. The law authorising this was passed in August the same year. Statistics Norway was one of several bodies entitled to comment on the proposal, and had several suggestions relating to the establishment of such a system. The intent was to ensure that the statistics such registers would be the basis for, would be of good quality. Registers were introduced in all municipalities on 1 March 1943, after the deportations in late 1942, but the German occupying authorities never managed to get the system to work (Soltvedt 2004).

Soltvedt, Kjartan (2004): «Folkeregistre og personnummersystemer i Norge fra 1905 til 2001», Folketellinger gjennom 200 år , Sosiale og økonomiske studier 109

Søbye, Espen (1998): «Jødeforfølgelsene under den annen verdenskrig: Et mørkt kapittel i statistikkens historie?» , Statistikk og historie, Statistiske analyser 39