Theater of Cruelty

The legacy of Ruth Maier

Aleksander Huser
Aleksander Huser
Huser is a regular film critic in Ny Tid.
No more everyday
Regissør: Elsa Kvamme
(Norge, 2021)

ANTISEMITTISM / Elsa Kvamme's new documentary No more everyday life tells the story of Jewish Ruth Maier, who in no way has lost its relevance and importance.


"Nazis reportedly do not exist," he wrote Ruth Maier about Norway in her diary, when she, as one of 100 quota refugees in 1939, was granted residence by the Norwegian authorities – on strict conditions.

The young Jewish woman was 19 years old when she came to Norway from Austria, while the rest of her family traveled to England. By 1938, Maier's homeland had been annexed by Nazi Germany. Discrimination and persecution of the Jews in the country became increasingly widespread, and in November of the same year the situation worsened further with the so-called German Crystal Night, which also took place in Austria.

Quisling: The Jewish "Satan empire which is now in full swing, and which threatens the people of Europe – and Norway".

Norwegian anti-Semitism

However, Norway was not at all free of Nazis and their anti-Semitic ideas. Elsa Kvamme's documentary No more everyday emphasizes this by cutting from what Maier wrote (quoted) to an archive clip in which Vidkun Quisling talks about the Jewish "Satan empire which is now in full swing, and which threatens the people of Europe – and Norway". The film emphasizes that the new race theories – with terms such as "race hygiene" and warnings against "mixing races" – were also widespread in Norway. This happened, among other things, through the book The Jewish problem and its solution (1939) by the former skier Halldis Neegaard Østbye (under the pseudonym Irene Sverd).

Ruth Maier was among the 532 Jews deported from Oslo on the cargo ship Danube on the night of November 26, 1942. A few days later, she was executed in the gas chamber of the Auschwitz concentration camp, aged 22.

Discovered by Jan Erik Vold

Kvamme's previous film Sorry brothers, it was me from 2019 was a portrait film about Jan Erik Vold. There is reason to believe that the sprout to No more everyday was sown by the filmmaker during the work on the documentary about Violence, as the Norwegian poet has played a crucial role in the discovery and dissemination of Ruth Maier's long unknown story.

Violence has put considerable effort into lifting its colleague Gunvor Hofmo (1921-1995), and has made sure to have several of her poems and other texts published posthumously, as well as written the biography Singer of Darkness (2000). When Vold and Hofmo's nephew went through her papers, they came across Ruth Maier's diaries, which Hofmo had taken care of. These have been edited by Vold and published in book form in 2007 – and have gained a significance that can be compared with Anne Frank's diaries. The original diaries are today maintained by the Norwegian Holocaust Center and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The relationship with Gunvor Hofmo

Kvamme's documentary tells Maier's story, with emphasis on the relationship between her and Hofmo. Although it is not said directly in the film, it seems clear that the two eventually became lovers. Hofmo's writing is then also largely about the close friend's tragic fate.

"Ruth Maier was among the 532 Jews deported from Oslo on the cargo ship Danube on the night of November 26, 1942."

Reconstruction with actors.

Kvamme conveys the story through a combination of both reconstructions with actors (where Julia Schacht plays Maier and Ingvild Holthe Bygdnes plays Hofmo), historical archive material, and interviews with those involved. Among the latter is not surprising Jan Eric Vold, but also Maier's surviving sister and a friend of both women, as well as other witnesses and relatives. This is a film characterized by a rich source material, and it could probably have stretched beyond the hour-long TV format for documentaries – but works very well within this framework.

Still relevant

Since Maier has received a good deal of attention with the recycled diaries, the film strictly speaking does not bring out much unknown. However, there is no strong argument against illuminating and disseminating the material also through a film, with this medium's opportunity to reach a wider audience.

World War II has long been a favorite theme for Norwegian filmmakers, but the popular feature films of recent years have concentrated mainly on the heroic tales. A significant exception, however, is the big movie The biggest crime(2020), which deals with similar topics as No more everyday. We need more and more of these stories, in movies as well as books.

We hear so often – almost to the point of boredom – that we must never forget. However, these words have in no way lost their relevance or importance. In parallel with the fact that the survivors who experienced the war are becoming fewer and fewer, meet today refugeeis with closed borders. And xenophobia and frighteningly similar conspiracy theories about ethnic groups are gaining ground, even in our own part of the world. Ruth Maier's story is one of those that is still absolutely necessary to learn from.

- self-advertisement -

Recent Comments:

Siste artikler

We need a propaganda filter

RUSSOPHOBIA: The reason for ORIENTERING this time is propaganda and Russophobia

Femicide as a fairy tale

VIOLENCE: If 'feminicide' has not yet established itself as a term in Norway, it is on its way into our language. It simply means femicide, but is often linked to the spouse, partner or a family member. Last year, 90 women were victims of femminicide in Italy, which places the country in third place in Europe.

Citizen journalists

GAZA: Sheikh Jarrah describes how the Israeli authorities subsequently sought to silence the journalists. Here is a current book – in connection with the murdered journalists in Gaza. The democratic function of the media is not always so democratic.

Therefore, the Middle East became a powder keg

50 YEARS AGO: Why has the Middle East been a powder keg for 25 years? What is the background for the irreconcilable attitude between Israel and the Arab states? And what happened to the Palestinian Arabs when the state of Israel was established?

A future without armies

PEACE WORK: There is something vaguely medieval in the narrative of the media, politicians and gun fetishists today. That is why it is refreshing to read the chapter "NATO – out of date" in the book Fredskultur. Or how about Costa Rica: "We have no enemies and we don't need an army!"

The military ambitions of the oil states

ARMS: There are a number of developments in the three oil states of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, which Jean-Loup Samaan researches in his latest book. These are the three oil states that account for 17 percent of all arms purchases worldwide. Saudi Arabia's desire to become a nuclear power in order to stand up to Iran.

To risk his life in the attempt

REFUGEES: Every single day, people set out from Turkey to Greece, from Lebanon to Italy, from Morocco to Spain, from Libya to Malta and from Tunisia to Lampedusa. Never before have there been so many people on the run as there are right now. Journalist Sally Hayden gives testimony about the people the world has turned its back on.

The power of water

HISTORY: Terje Tvedt breaks some research norms by seeing the water wheel to a greater degree than the steam engine as the real driving force behind the industrial revolution. It's about water, not cultural superiority.

I was completely out of the world

Essay: The author Hanne Ramsdal tells here what it means to be put out of action – and come back again. A concussion leads, among other things, to the brain not being able to dampen impressions and emotions.

Silently disciplining research

PRIORITIES: Many who question the legitimacy of the US wars seem to be pressured by research and media institutions. An example here is the Institute for Peace Research (PRIO), which has had researchers who have historically been critical of any war of aggression – who have hardly belonged to the close friends of nuclear weapons.

Is Spain a terrorist state?

SPAIN: The country receives sharp international criticism for the police and the Civil Guard's extensive use of torture, which is never prosecuted. Regime rebels are imprisoned for trifles. European accusations and objections are ignored.

Is there any reason to rejoice over the coronary vaccine?

COVID-19: There is no real skepticism from the public sector about the coronary vaccine – vaccination is recommended, and the people are positive about the vaccine. But is the embrace of the vaccine based on an informed decision or a blind hope for a normal everyday life?

The military commanders wanted to annihilate the Soviet Union and China, but Kennedy stood in the way

Military: We focus on American Strategic Military Thinking (SAC) from 1950 to the present. Will the economic war be supplemented by a biological war?


Bjørnboe: In this essay, Jens Bjørneboe's eldest daughter reflects on a lesser – known psychological side of her father.

Arrested and put on smooth cell for Y block

Y-Block: Five protesters were led away yesterday, including Ellen de Vibe, former director of the Oslo Planning and Building Agency. At the same time, the Y interior ended up in containers.

A forgiven, refined and anointed basket boy

Pliers: The financial industry takes control of the Norwegian public.

Michael Moore's new film: Critical to alternative energy

EnvironmentFor many, green energy solutions are just a new way to make money, says director Jeff Gibbs.

The pandemic will create a new world order

Mike Davis: According to activist and historian Mike Davis, wild reservoirs, like bats, contain up to 400 types of coronavirus that are just waiting to spread to other animals and humans.

The shaman and the Norwegian engineer

cohesion: The expectation of a paradise free of modern progress became the opposite, but most of all, Newtopia is about two very different men who support and help each other when life is at its most brutal.

Skinless exposure

Anorexia: shameless uses Lene Marie Fossen's own tortured body as a canvas for grief, pain and longing in her series of self portraits – relevant both in the documentary self Portrait and in the exhibition Gatekeeper.