THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
MONDAY JULY 28,1941
By DICK BEAN
"Strong Air Force Needed. to Beat Nazis, Evacuee Claims"
INSUPERABLE air strength of the United States and other democracies
is "what it takes to beat Hitler and the Germans," a ruddy-faced,
golden-haired Norwegian escapee from the Nazi gestapo and veteran of
the battle of Norway asserted after telling the Bakersfield Rotary
Club of his narrow escape from a concentration camp.
Brynjolf Bjorset (now "Bryn Beorse"), engineer-soldier of fortune and former Norwegian army lieutenant (he pronounces it "leftennant"), told of the consistent trouble the Nazi overlords are meeting in conquered nations of Europe and related how he escaped a Norway trap, hiked
with British companions nearly 400 miles to Sweden, was captured on a United States-bound ship, talked his way out of seizure and sailed for America on another ship a few hours before arrival of a "ticket to a concentration camp."
Mr. Bjorset has confidence that the new British-directed grapevine
"V" campaign of sabotage and unrest will increase the Germans'
trouble in keeping subject Europeans under the hobnails of the Nazi
boot. Smouldering hatred for their conquerors brought about the "V"
campaign, he said, with the British deciding the time was ripe to
guide from a secret radio station in England a unified campaign of
anti-Nazi opposition, manifested by the symbol "V" chalked on barns,
signaled in Morse code and painted on walls.
Sabotage in conquered Norway takes the subtle form of "conversion" of
German soldiers, Mr. Bjorset said.
"Our people treat the Germans well as individuals and try to show
them the benefits of democratic life," he declared. "Then when they
go back to Germany maybe they will tell others."
Other popular forms of hampering the Germans in Norway are for the
Scandinavians to start landslides blocking transport routes; punch
holes in Germany-bound fish cans, spoiling canned food; putting
water in German fuel and harassing the invaders with theater jokes.
Man to man, the German soldier is far from invincible, the
world-traveling civil engineer said.
"In battle they showed no mastery of soldiership. They came at us
howling and screaming. We thought they were trying to scare us, that
they were acting childish. But later we found they were scared," the
When the British halted supplies to Norway, Mr. Bjorset found
himself and British soldiers trapped in the mountains. He led them
cautiously for almost 400 miles to Sweden, going for days without
food except what generous Norwegian farmers provided.
Once in Sweden, Mr. Bjorset went to Finland, shipping out from
Petsamo for New York. A German seaplane halted the ship, forced it
into the port of Tromso where German officials made him a prisoner.
Because their captive was a master of eight languages including
English, the Germans thought he might be useful to them.
"They thought I would be what they call a "fool fifth columnist,"
said Mr. Bjorset. "They wanted to send me to America if I would make
a good agent. They talked to me about peace. So I led them on that I
was agreeable to their plan. The military released me but
set detectives on my trail to find out more about me. Finally they
became suspicious and I thought my chances of coming to America were
Luckily he found one officer who believed he should go to America and
arranged for his departure. While final word was snarled in Berlin
red tape, Mr. Bjorset talked a Nazi consul into letting him leave.
Once in New York, a letter from Berlin was forwarded by a friend in
"The letter said permission to leave had been refused," the soldier laughed.
Mr. Bjorset has filed application for American citizenship and is
attempting to join the United States Naval Reserve. He believes he
might be useful because of his engineering training and ability to
speak Norwegian, German, English, French, Swedish, Danish, Dutch and
Malay, languages learned on his world travels. He was in America when
war in Norway broke out and hastened home to fight.
"This is a war of preparation," Mr. Bjorset said, "and America is
the land of invention. With proper development of our air force–more
planes, bigger planes, better planes–America can turn out machines
to overcome Hitler. Germany has not utilized the full possibilities
of aerial warfare."