The first refugee to Norway became a doctor in Lofoten

Screenshot 2019 02 10 at 090018 EditedDuring the Cold War, refugees from communist regimes were welcomed with open arms to the western countries, and until the mid-1970s were quickly assigned work and housing. One of the very first refugees was a freedom fighter from Ukraine. The paradox is that today Ukraine has an enormous need for protection of civilians due to Russia's bullets and bombs in recent years, which have claimed nearly 15,000 lives in eastern Ukraine.

Photo: Monument of the vikingbrothers and sister who settle the capital Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukraine has a common history with the Nordic countries since the Middle Ages. In the Viking Age and in the Middle Ages, there was close contact between Scandinavia and Kyiv-Rus, or Gardarike as it was called in the old sagas. The rulers of Kyiv were originally of Scandinavian descent. In our time, the distance between the Nordic countries and Ukraine seems long. In Viking times it was short.

The first to go to today's Ukraine was the legendary Olav Tryggvason. In 960 Astrid fled with her son Olav across the Baltic Sea. The goal was to find Astrid's brother, who served with Prince Vladimir of Novgorod. The young Olav Tryggvason grew up in the circle around Vladimir's bodyguard, probably first in Novgorod and then in Kyiv. In 995, Olav Tryggvason returned to Norway. Then, following a pattern from Kyiv, he tried to build a strong monarchy and introduce Christianity as a new foundation under the Norwegian state. Later, Saint Olav and Harald Hardråde, the founders of Oslo, spent longer periods in the Kyiv Empire. Olav the Saint's son, Magnus the Good, grew up with Prince Jaroslav in Kyiv. Håkon Håkonsson gave accommodation to a group of refugees from Kyiv-Rus, or Gardarike, who were allowed to live in Malangen in Troms. This after the Mongol conquest of Kyiv-Rus, and then the contact with Norway gradually disappeared.

Ukraine has historically been exposed to conquests and wars from both the East and the West. Everything from Mongolia by Genghis Khan, Russia from the east and from Poland, Austria and Hungary in the west. Unfortunately, this is happening to this day with Putin's war in eastern Ukraine.

The refugee who came from Ukraine was Mykola Radejko right after World War II. He was born in the small western Ukrainian town of Javoriv in October 1920. His parents had also seen the light of day in this village, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In his youth, Mykola experienced the process of Russification that Stalin started and which led to the world's greatest genocide, the Holodomor in 1932-1933, in which between 7 and 10,000,000 people with political decisions were starved to death. The people of Europe's granary were deprived of all food, aids and property, and were shot themselves to pick up some lousy grain remains in their own fields.Mykola Radejko 2

Mykola Radejko began his studies in Ukraine, but due to World War II he was called up to the Red Army, which made up about 40 percent of Ukrainians. These Ukrainians also helped to liberate Norway. When the Nazis conquered Ukraine from Stalin in 1941, the Ukrainian nationalist movement was given full room for maneuver and freedom of expression. Mykola became part of the UPA (Ukrainian Liberation Army) and eventually took on a leading role. After the war, Western leaders Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed with Stalin that Ukraine should go to Stalin. This, of course, was never accepted by the Ukrainians, and they have never considered themselves part of the Soviet Union. But power prevailed. We Norwegians tend to call Ukrainians Russians or Soviets during this period. For example, we say Russian prisoners about Ukrainians and Soviet soldiers who liberated northern Norway. These are some that the Ukrainians do not accept.

Mykola Radejko, due to his background as a member of the Ukrainian guerrilla group UPA, had to flee to avoid the execution of Stalin. Mykola went to Poland and Gdansk in 1947, starved and was on the verge of giving up. But by chance he met some helpers on the quay in Gdansk, and they turned out to be Norwegians. They managed to get him unseen on board a Norwegian ship and hid him in a cabin. The boat went to Haugesund, and the stowaway and the refugee were then arrested and put in Norwegian prison. Mykola Radejko experienced his stay in a Norwegian prison almost as a holiday stay compared to the prisons he had experienced during the war, both from the Nazi and Russian captivity. Five years had passed since he had to give up his medical studies in Lviv and joined UPA full time. He eventually got freedom in Norway, and got a job on a farm in the Haugesund area for NOK. 15 in monthly salary.

After six years, in 1950, he was allowed to travel to Oslo and resumed his studies. He got a place at the medical faculty at the University of Oslo. He graduated and finished his doctor already in the early summer of 1953. Immediately after graduation, he went to Lofoten, because he had been given a temporary position on Gimsøya. The Ukrainian thrived in the archipelago of Lofoten. He was not a man of the sea, but turned to patient visits also via the small boat.

He eventually moved back to Oslo and also became a school doctor and sports doctor. He married Ragnhild Ramsland, who was also a doctor. He became an important person in the Ukrainian community in Norway. Mykola Radejko was constantly concerned about developments in his home country and wrote a major article in Morgenbladet on August 29, 1979: "Democracy in Russia has weak roots, and it will take a long time before the Russians mature for democracy. We are witnessing that instead of liberalism and democracy, a pure Russian nationalism is cultivated today in almost all Russian political camps. And everyone has the same goal: Preserving the empire ».

In the autumn of 1991, Mykola Radejko returned to Ukraine for the first time. Ukraine had then become independent in February 1991 and had seceded from Russia. He came for the first time to his birthplace, Javoriv, ​​which he left 48 years earlier. A few years earlier, he had not even dared to think of a return trip to his homeland. He was received as a hero and gave speeches in several cities and schools while the blue-yellow flags waved.

Sober as he was, he dMykola Radejkooubted whether he was hailed as a resistance fighter returning home, or just as a Ukrainian who had made a career in a foreign country. But at the same time he experienced an impoverished country and dilapidated people. It made the strongest impression on him, even though he was prepared. No repair work had been done during the fifty years they had been under the rule of the Muscovites. He saw shortcomings everywhere, he saw a land rich from nature, but in extreme poverty.

Nevertheless, he returned to Norway with optimism. He had seen old Ukrainian symbols asserted. He had experienced children speaking Ukrainian, the Russification process was broken.

Mykola Radejko was the founder of the first Ukrainian society in Norway.


Economically, Ukraine is now at full speed upwards. But one thing he got wrong in his faith in the future and optimism on behalf of Ukraine. He did not think Russia would attack Ukraine militarily again.

Mykola Radejko died in 2005 and was buried in Oslo.

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