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Norway: Queen Sonja visits the high-security Bredtveit women’s prison in Oslo

NordenBladet – Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway visited on Thursday the high-security Bredtveit women’s prison* and detention facility in Oslo. The prison is one of four prisons in Norway with only female prisoners.

During Queen Sonja’s very first visit to Bredtveit, she got to meet the prison’s management, staff and some of the inmates. The visit began with a presentation of the prison and its activities by prison leader, Doris Bakken and assistant prison leader, Siri Brock-Utne. In addition, prison priest, Elisabeth Kjetilstad gave an orientation on the art in the church.

Her Majesty also had a tour through the two of the living quarters, the working area and the newly renovated visiting rooms with recently completed artistic decoration. In the housing area and working area, the Queen met inmates who talked about their everyday life in prison.

Among several of the teachers at the prison, Queen Sonja met with hairdresser Laura during the Christmas visit to Bredtveit. The Cup’n Cut hair salon is run by inmates. The staff and inmates also showed the Queen how they work with art, design and crafts.

he prison visit lasted about an hour and a half and is part of an annual tradition established by the Queen. Once before Christmas each year, the Queen visits a place with disadvantaged users to show her support and put the light on important issues and challenges within the Norwegian society. Her Majesty the Queen has, in the previous years, also visited economically disadvantaged Norwegians as well as ethnic and religious minorities in different parts of Norway. Last year, she visited the children and youth department at Oslo’s largest hospital.

Bredtveit prison is located in the district of Groruddalen in Oslo, Norway’s capital, and has two wards distributed with 45 inmates in a high-security ward and 19 in a low-security ward. Bredtveit receives both custody, sentencing and detention inmates. The prison also works closely with the social services and several schools for adults to make the transition to life after imprisonment easier.

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* Bredtveit Prison (formally named Bredtveit Prison Service, Custody and Supervision Unit, Norwegian: Bredtveit fengsel, forvarings- og sikringsanstalt) is a prison located in the neighborhood of Bredtvet in Oslo, Norway. During World War II it was a concentration camp.

It originated at Bredtvet farm as a learning home (lærehjem) for young boys, erected 1918 and in use from 1919 to 1923. In 1923 the state took over the property from Det norske lærehjem- og verneforbund. In 1929 it was decided to turn the property into a juvenile center with teaching of labour skills; the green light was given in 1939. This plan did not materialize, as the construction of the facility was halted by war.

In 1940, Norway was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany. From 1941 the Nazi collaborationist party Nasjonal Samling used Bredtveit as a political prison. It bore a similarity to Falstad concentration camp, in the original purpose of the facility.

People incarcerated at Bredtveit during the war included several professors arrested during the crackdown on the University of Oslo in October 1943: Johan Christian Schreiner, Odd Hassel, Ragnar Frisch, Johannes Andenæs, Carl Jacob Arnholm, Bjørn Føyn, Eiliv Skard, Harald K. Schjelderup and Anatol Heintz. Also, a group of Jewish prisoners that arrived in Oslo after the departure of SS Donau stayed at Bredtveit. They left Bredtveit on 24 February 1943, and were shipped towards Auschwitz on the following day. Personnel in the camp include physician Hans Eng.

In 1945, after the war was over, Bredtveit was used as a prison for women who awaited trial for collaboration, as a part of the legal purge in Norway after World War II. Later politician Aaslaug Aasland served as prison director in the initial period. From 1949 it was a general women’s prison, which included a facility for forced labour. Forced labour ceased to exist in Norway in 1970, whereupon the prison got the name Bredtveit fengsel og sikringsanstalt. It is one of three women’s prisons in Norway, the others being Sandefjord and Ravneberget. It has a capacity of 54 inmates.

Amongst the people incarcerated at Bredtveit after the war included Veronica Orderud and Kristin Kirkemo who were convicted in the Orderud murder case.


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