September 2022 - The Diary of Assne Kahn

This month we have picked out the Diary of Assne Kahn. The diary begins Tuesday 9th of April 1940, the day when Norway was occupied. Assne wrote almost everyday until 23rd of June. Throughout the diary we get a glimpse of the everyday life of Assne during the first days of the war, where she fled from Trondheim to Sweden and the life during the first weeks in Sweden.

Assne was 18 years old when she fled. She was born in 1922. She was the youngest child of Josef and Rosa Kahn (b. Fischer), and she grew up in Nerbyen in Trondheim. When the war broke out she decided to flee the same day, 9th of April. She fled with the sister-in-law, Ranka Kahn (b. Hirsch), who was married to her brother Henrik. Assne began the diary with the following:

“Tuesday April 9th. The Germans occupied Trondheim, everywhere posters of war, those three horrible letters. What am I supposed to do now? Germans wherever we went, I had nothing better to do that to pack the silverware, was supposed to travel to Vikhammer at 2 O’clock, but couldn’t find a car, this was my destiny, the day went as normal, but at 5 O’clock we heard the first bombings, didn’t know what I should do, stood in the middle of the street, and could hear those terrible blasts, ran to the store, and there I fell into the arms of Ranka, she was travelling to Grong at 17.45, is was decided that I should tag along, and left as I stood…”

They ended up in the district of Rørvik where they stayed in the town of Rørvik and on Ottersøya and Nærøya. This was a natural destination since they had family there. One week into the war she travelled to Rørvik from Ottersøya. In the diary she wrote “… and then I was in Rørvik again, the first thing that happened was the sirens going off, but I’m used to hearing them now.”

She stayed in the area until the beginning of May. The 1st of May she survived the bombing of Rørvik and fled to Nærøya. The next day she wrote “Well, what are we supposed to do now? We have to flee.” A couple of days later it was decided. Assne, Ranka, Henrik and another sister-in-law named Cecilie Kahn (b. Florence) and her daughter Ada, travelled northward to get to Sweden. They ended up in Mo i Rana and crossed the border from there, mainly by foot and by skiing.

In Sweden they ended up in a Norwegian refugee camp in Vindeln. They stayed here for a while until they were able to continue to her sister Rakel, who lived in Sweden. Assne continued writing for a couple of more weeks, until late June 1940.

Assne remained in Sweden throughout the war, and she did not move back to Trondheim afterwards. A couple of years later she married Aron Goldberg and started a family. The diary was not meant to be read by others, and she shared thoughts and worries in her everyday life with it. Today however, the diary has become an important source in our understanding of how a life of a teenager was the first weeks during the Second World War. As a source it has also been used in the art exhibition “Shtumer Alef” by Assne’s granddaughter Katinka Goldberg. In this exhibition she tells the story of how Assne fled to Sweden, and the diary became a central element of the exhibition.


Jewish Museum Trondheim

The Diary of Assne Kahn

Familieboka Vi Kahn