Oscar Magnusson

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Oscar Magnusson
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Born(1911-04-04)April 4, 1911
DiedNovember 8, 1987(1987-11-08) (aged 76)

Oscar Magnusson (4 April 1911-8 November 1987) was a Norwegian resistance movement|Norwegian resistance member during WW2. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and endured beatings and torture during repeated interrogations that took place at Gestapo headquarters at Veiten in Bergen.

Jeg vil leve

Slave laborers at Buchenwald concentration camp, including , Elie Wiesel, and Mel Mermelstein. Oscar Magnusson survived similar conditions during his imprisonment and was held at various prisons and concentration camps. Magnusson’s account of the treatment to which he was subjected, as well as the entire story of his imprisonment in different prisons and concentration camps in Germany, Poland, then Czechoslovakia and Austria, are recounted in his book Jeg vil leve, which was published in 1967. Jeg vil leve has been translated into Danish, German, Swedish, and Polish. An unauthorized English translation of Magnusson's book was completed in 2014 but has never been published. Excerpts of the English translation are available online for evaluation purposes and provide English speakers with an impression of what Magnusson experienced as a prisoner.[1]

Magnusson survived four years of imprisonment while being moved from one prison or concentration camp to another. In rough terms, his journey took him from Norway to Kiel in Germany, and continued as follows: Rendsburg, Neumünster, Stettin, Berlin, Sonnenburg, Brieg, Breslau, Langenbilaug, Reichenstein, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Eger, Flossenburg, and ultimately, Cham, where he and other prisoners were liberated by the US Army. Precisely how he managed to survive years of hunger, forced labor, inhumane treatment and death marches, was a mystery to the Norwegian doctor who examined him upon his return to Norway.

In his chapter about the death march over the mountains (pg. 172, 1967 edition), Magnusson describes an encounter with a Norwegian physician who basically told him that his account of the march was theoretically impossible. The same doctor, who was in the process of examining him at Haukeland Hospital in Bergen, Norway, stated that no one could survive such a trek while consuming so few calories. Magnusson responded by telling the doctor to read the documents provided by American military doctors who had cared for him directly following his liberation. Magnusson himself gave much of the credit for his survival to his mother and the power that lay within his knowledge that she was praying for him. He explicitly states that this strengthened his will to survive. During a presentation of his then new book at Holmen on Lake Nordåsvannet in 1967, Magnusson said, "I couldn't allow myself to let this information be lost after I'm gone".

Plans for a film adaptation of the book, Jeg vil leve, have existed since 2004. In fact, Astrid Kolbjørnsen wrote in an article in the Bergens Tidende newspaper on 2004-03-29, that a native of Bergen named Børge B. Johannesen had returned from Australia after studying film-making there with an "obsession": The life of war hero Oscar Magnusson. Johannesen had plans to make both a feature film and a documentary, and had already done extensive research and conducted interviews. At that time, Johannesen was 28 years old, and he told the newspaper, "if I get the film done by the time I turn 45, I'll be content".

History of imprisonment

Bergen kretsfengsel, where Magnusson was imprisoned After his arrest on 7. november 1941, Magnusson was transferred between multiple prisons and detention camps, starting as prisoner number 788 at the detention facilities inside the Gestapo headquarters in Bergen.The building, located at Veiten 3 in Bergen city center, was built as "Bergens Haandværks- og Industriforenings hus", the lodge house of the local carpenters and industry worker's union. It was appropriated by the Sicherheitspolizei at the start of the war and so the union was not able to use the building before 1945.[2]}}[3]


  • Jeg vil leve (Gyldendal Norsk Forlag|Gyldendal, 1967)
  • Jag vill leva, translated into Swedish by Gunnar Barklund (LT, 1968).
  • Jeg vil leve, translated into Danish by Annabeth Kruuse (Gyldendal (Danmark), 1968)
  • Chcę żyć Poznań, translated into Polish by Adam Wysocki (Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 1971)
  • Ich will leben die Geschichte eines Mannes, der durch die Hölle ging, translated into German by Brigitte Pokorny (Wuppertal Brockhaus, 2004)


  1. Sundvor, Eirik (23 September 1967). "Oskar Magnussons venner stjal ham fra likhaugen og gjemte ham under køya". Dagbladet (in norsk) (221). Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  2. "Bergens Haandværks- og Industriforening". Bergen byleksikon. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  3. "Oscar Magnusson - Norsk digitalt fangearkiv 1940-1945 - Fanger.no". www.fanger.no. Retrieved 22 August 2020.

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