11 March 2019. Narvik, Norway: The End of the Iron Road 

We arrived early this morning under a stunning blue sky and crisp air at Narvik, one of the locations of the most significant naval battles of World War II.

The reason for the modern port, which was also the lure for the Germans and the Allies, is the railroad that arrives at sea level from the interior of Sweden. More than a dozen mile-long trains carrying iron ore arrive most days to be loaded onto waiting freighters here.

In the runup to World War II, Germany (and the United Kngdom) were each receiving huge quantities of iron ore from Sweden, which remained mostly neutral throughout the war.

Germany sent in a fleet to seize the port and secure the railroad in 1939, and then the British sent their navy to try and displace them. Thousands of sailors and infantry on both sides died, and Narvik was pounded for most of the war. It was also the site of a concentration camp run by the Germans, holding mostly Yugoslavian and Serbian prisoners, most of whom died in the horrific conditions.

I went with a group of guests to the Narvik Krigsmuseum (the Narvik War Museum) to see some of the artifacts of the war and some exhibitions of well-intentioned hopes for peace. Then we made a visit to a cold, silent cemetery holding some of the British, Canadian, French, Polish, German, and others who died here.

Later tonight we sail back out to sea to head to Bergen, the last port of call on this cruise.

A sea mine recovered from the harbor at Narvik.

A prototype of a one-man submarine/torpedo developed by the Germans for what amounts to suicide missions. The British had a similar device which they unsuccessfully deployed against the German battleship Tirpitz.

Inside the War Museum.

A cemetery of Allied and Axis and civilians in Narvik.

Viking Sky at the dock in Narvik.

Aboard ship, from the Explorer’s Lounge.

In a reflective mood, the snow-covered mountains mirrored aboard ship.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2019. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises. 

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