In late 1944 two journalists traveled to war-devastated Finnmark in the northern part of Norway. What they saw was shocking. The Nazi Germans had scorched the earth while retreating from the area, destroying homes and buildings and leaving tens of thousands of Finnmark’s residents out in the cold to suffer.
Norwegians in Finnmark were forced out of their homes as the Nazi Germans used a scorched-earth policy in retreat. (Photos of Finnmark courtesy of the Lofoten War Museum.)
Amid so much destruction there was a humanitarian nightmare. The Allies, commanded by General Eisenhower, shipped in aid. The two journalists continued their tour of the war-torn province, surveying the destruction. But even in the darkest of times, there was room for a little miracle. In one town they came across a magical sight: a Christmas party for children.
The News of Norway printed, “The kids drank milk and consumed cookies to their hearts’ content, danced around the Christmas tree and played games almost like in peacetime.” The journalists wrote that the arrival of relief supplies had brought hope to Finnmark.
Children need to be spared the ravages of war and other disasters. This holiday season please remember the children and think of ways to help them for the coming new year.
You can support the petition to provide school meals for all the world’s children through the U.S. McGovern-Dole program. Or help out the charity Save the Children whose grand history includes relief work in Finnmark. Or assist the relief effort for Haiti and Pakistan by contacting the World Food Programme.
Today, there are millions of children caught in war or disaster zones seeking their own miracle for the holidays and the new year.
For amid all the harshness and cruelty in this world, one thing remains the same. The most powerful force is goodwill and generosity, particularly for children. This should not be forgotten. And amid all the political debate on what to do about this country or that country, feeding and educating all children across the globe is what can make a difference.
On this holiday we can start a plan to give children this gift.
Back to Finnmark for a moment: A collection of clothing had taken place all across America and the clothes were shipped in to Finnmark as part of the relief effort.
One of the Norwegian journalists, Jorgen Juve, recounted a story of a child in the area of the Tana River in Finnmark. The clothing supplies had reached their targets and the girl, named Liv, was smoothing out her new blue coat. The little girl reached in her coat and pulled out a note that read “R. Minneapolis.” She looked at the reporter and said, “Now, I am dressed for the winter.”