You’ll find Kåfjord just a few deciliters of fuel southwest of Alta. Between March 22nd 1943 and October 15th 1944 the battle ship Tirpitz anchored in Kåfjord, Altafjord. Just behind the new bridge on the picture it harbored. The ship was Adolf Hitler’s most fearsome naval force and spent most of its time in Norwegian waters.
If Tirpitz was the pride of the Germans, it was the obsession of Winston Churchill. The British would employ more and more ingenuous attempts to destroy the ship as the war unfolded. They succeeded to wound the ship in Kåfjord with specially manufactured mini-submarines late 1944. The ship limped to Tromsø where it was sunk by the specially designed and obliterating Tallboy bombs on November 12th in 1944.
The ship was Adolf Hitler’s most fearsome naval force
On this day, a lot of evacuees from Finnmark and Nord-Troms had arrived Tromsø in transit, including, all my grandparents and my pre-school aged parents. On many occasions, I have heard the stories, told by my family members, on how they experienced the sinking of the mighty Tirpitz.
Tirpitz is thus personal.
Thanks to Mr. Even Blomkvist, Tirpitz has its own museum at the very site of its 1943/44 home. Even welcomed us to the museum on its 10th anniversary on Friday June 5th 2015. No fanfare, however, Even was celebrating the day with enhancing the museum.
In the entrance of the museum there are two models of sister ships:
- Tirpitz (1/32 model)
A senior and a craftsman, Mr. Egil Lerfaldet has been working on the Bismarck for seven years. It is four more years than the shipyard of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg spent on building the original. Meticulously, he has keeled, gunned and manned the replica bottom up. Wood, balsa, paper, copper tread and other material have been used. Egil is happy the Bismarck model is almost complete. I am so old my fingers are starting to shake and my eyesight waning to haze, he says.
Along with artifacts and memorabilia, some actual parts of the Tirpitz are displayed at the museum. Mounted on the walls are pictures of the cadet’s daily life and some rare color pictures. A BBC produced documentary about the Tirpitz is also included in the entrance fee.
The item causing me the most chill is a bed linen. The grey bed linen is similar to a bed linen my grandmother once made my guest bed at my grandparents. My grandparents had obtained these bed linens during or after the war.
I was a little child, and I was lying in bed with a swastika. I did not sleep that night. I was too scared.
The Tirpitz Museum in Kåfjord is the work of one industrious Blomkvist and his helpers.
Kåfjord has in fact more interesting stories in store for its visitors.
The Tirpitz museum is only two kilometers off the Arctic Fjord Road.