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Herøya 1943-Synopsis and scenes in english

Herøya 1943


Axel Aubert, General Director of Norsk Hydro, Tormod Gjestland, Director of Eidanger Salpeterfabrikker, subsidiary of Norsk Hydro (in Herøya, now part of Porsgrunn) and Wilhelm von der Bey (Director of Nordisk Lettmetall, a subsidiary of IG Farben) are historical figures appearing in the play. Reichskommissar Terboven and Ministerpresident Quisling are in the background. The construction of an aluminum plant and the bombing by American planes happened. Other characters and most of the action are fictional.

Prologue, summer 1941

Axel Aubert has come to Porsgrunn to address the employees at Herøya because of uneasiness among the workers about plans to build an aluminum smelter that will help the German occupants. He speaks with great conviction about his brilliant strategizing. Employees who have reservation are told that they can leave the company.

Part 1: Before the bombing

Scene 1. At “Adminiet”, the residence of Director Gjestland

Mrs. Leite is the housekeeper, assisted by Mrs. Lillevann and Nelly. Herleik is the gardener.

We are told that there is a German anti-aircraft battery in the back of the Admini grounds, that Mrs. Leite disapproves of. Mrs. Lillevann and Herleik bring soup to workers working on the construction of the aluminum plant, Nelly asks them to bring some papers that turn out to be illegal newspapers from the communists.

Scene 2. Immediately after “Kranselaget,” at the aluminum plant (“wreath party,” a celebration marking the completion of the roof.)

Trygve Tveito is the union leader, Bjørn Øye and Syversen are workers. (Bjørn Øye wants to date Nelly) The three men talk about deliberately slowing the process of completing the plant. When the wreath falls down, Syversen takes this as a bad omen. Kristiansen (a Norwegian guard working for the Nazis, and a Nazi himself) puts the wreath back in its place. Rasch, a young engineer comes by. He is eager to see the plant completed.

Scene 3. Air raid alarm

Kristiansen and Settem get a scolding from Metzger (SS Captain) because they don’t have their weapons ready. It turns out to be a false alarm.

Scene 4 At the barrier

Mrs. Lillevann brings the soup to the factory and has to let the Nazis have some

Scene 5. At the construction site

Mrs. Lillevann brings the soup and the illegal newspaper. The workers discuss the progress of the war. Bjørn Øye wants to sabotage the aluminum plant, but Tveito lets him know the orders from London, not to take any action. Philip Rasch appears, urging the workers to hurry up.

Scene 5. At Adminiet

Reichskommissar Terboven (Top German in Norway during the war) is on the phone for Director Gjestland. Mrs. Leite rushes off on urgent business.

Scene 6. Mrs. Leite meets Trygve Tveito

They are discussing news that Yugoslavian forced laborers are on the way to speed up the completion of the plant, how to relay the news to London, and how to get hold of a small camera to provide documentation for London.

Scene 7. At the barrier

Metzger comes back from a night at the officers’ mess, drunk and aggressive. Settem and Kristiansen talk about his previous assignments in Northern Norway, where he earned the nickname “The butcher of Botnen.” Settem tells about his time as a guard in POW camps in Northern Norway.

Scene 8. Nelly and Bjørn

Nelly and Bjørn have ties to the communist resistance, and are impatient for sabotage action. Nelly wants Bjørn to steal explosives in the construction site. He wants her to come to a dance. She agrees to go if he can get hold of explosives.

Scene 9. At the barrier – evening

The Yugoslav workers arrive.

Scene 10. At the barrier – the next morning

Vidkun Quisling speaks on the radio, announcing a law that mandates all Norwegians to work for the German war effort

Scene 11. At Adminiet

Mrs. Leite chases of some kids that steal carrots from her garden. Nelly offers to bring soup to the Yugoslav workers. Mrs. Leite will only let her go accompanied by Mrs. Lillevann.

Scene 12. At the barrier and the construction site

Mrs. Lillevann and Nelly bring the workers’ lunch. Again, the Nazis must get their share. Krsto, a leader of the Yuguslavs tells about how Serbs, Bosnians and Montenegrins were forced to go to Norway, whereas Croats were not. There is another air raid alarm. Bjørn tries in vain to convince Syversen to go to the bomb shelter. Philip Rasch orders Syversen to the shelter, but he refuses.

Scene 13. After the all clear

Krsto tells Bjørn Øye how they sabotaged the construction at Årdal. “We threw shit in to the concrete.” We learn that Syversen is afraid to go in the bomb shelter because he was torpedoed during WW1.

Scene 14 At Adminiet.

Mrs. Leite and her staff are preparing for a party on the occasion of a visit from Director von der Bey.

Scene 15. On the construction site

Bjørn Øye and Trygve Tveito catch each other, one stealing explosives, the other taking pictures. Trygve Tveito urges Bjørn and the communists not to sabotage the plant, but wait until the cells are filled with molten metal and then cut the power, thereby putting the plant out of production for a long time.

Scene 16. Party at Adminiet

Nelly serves at the dinner. Mrs. Leite tells her to listen as much as she can to the conversation. Alf Peaters, a violinist arrives to entertain the guests.

Scene 17 During the party

Mrs. Leite and Trygve Tveito have another secret meeting. The transformers are the last equipment to be installed before the aluminum plant can start producing materials for the German airplane industry.

Scene 18. Outside Adminiet

Mrs. Lillevann is able to get a bottle of cognac for Alf Peaters in return for some good pre-war bicycle innertubes.

Scene 19. At the party

Director von der Bey gives a speech. He praises the Natural beauty of Norway. Eventually, he also admits that he thinks the war is lost for Germany. The Yugoslavs are singing in the background, and rather than making them stop, von der Bey invites them to come a play together with Alf Peaters. Metzger arrives – he will not have it.

Scene 20 At the barracks

Kristiansen is beating Krsto up, but is stopped by Metzger who makes clear the difference between a conscript worker and a prisoner of war.

Scene 21 The next morning at Adminiet

The youngsters steal more of Mrs. Leite’s carrots. Mrs. Lillevann and Herleik do some black market trading.

Scene 22 At the factory gate

Syversen arrives at work, drunk and cheerful, singing that the Yanks are coming. He has heard news that the allies have invaded Sicily. The transformers arrive.


Part 2. In the bomb shelter

Settem and Kristiansen are thrown out of the bomb shelter to man the anti-aircraft guns. Syversen is missing. Tveito rushes off to try to find him. The bombs start falling.

Part 3. After the bombing

Scene 1. At the factory site

The factory site has suffered heavy damage from the bombs. Dead and wounded are brought in. Kristiansen refuses to let medics through the gate, until Metzger arrives. Tveito’s dead body is discovered. Nelly curses the Americans. Kristiansen brings in Settem, who has also been killed by the bombs.

Scene 2. The next morning, at Adminiet

A crew is busy disarming an unexploded bomb. The kids who regularly steal carrots almost run across a dangerous section of the grounds. Mrs. Lillevann has news about the casualties (her sister is the cleaner for Dr. Thiis-Evensen in town). Bjørn Øye has to take over for Trygve Tveito in the resistance.

Scene 3. At a bomb crater

The Yugoslav workers are clearing the ruins. Metzger catches Bjørn Øye taking pictures. Philip Rasch covers for him. Apparently, his allegiance has changed after the bombing. Krsto comes to Bjørn Øye to tell him that the Yugoslavs are to be sent to Germany, where they fear for their lives. Aubert shows up, insisting that his grand scheme for diversification of Norsk Hydro must not be thwarted. Bjørn Øye manages to get Krsto into hiding.

Scene 4. At Adminiet.

Nelly and Bjørn go through papers from Trygve Tveito. They read aloud from “The Blue Book” about Norway after the war. Nelly disapproves of Bjørn’s going to work for the non-communist resistance.

Scene 5. Much later – the war is ending

The transformers are taken away – the Germans have given up on completing the aluminum factory. Mrs. Leite and Mrs. Lillevann are cleaning up at Adminiet. Nelly has been ordered to burn papers from Adminiet. The play closes when Mrs. Leite throws the guestbook of Adminiet on the fire.