War graves service

The history, tasks and organisation of the war graves service.

By the end of the Second World War, a large number of foreign nationals had been buried in Norway, some under inadequately dignified conditions. There was also an unknown number of Norwegian nationals who had died as a result of acts of war who were buried in cemeteries outside Norway.

At the end of 1945, the Norwegian War Graves Commission was appointed to search for deceased Norwegians in different European countries and to repatriate the remains. The commission was active from 1946 to 1950.

In a memorandum from the Ministry of Defence of 20 November 1946, a central office for war graves was established under the Army High Command.

District offices led by army chaplains were also established under each district command and worked to register and move foreign war graves within Norway.

The War Graves Commission was discontinued in 1950 and the district offices were closed in 1955. The various activities were consolidated under the war graves service, which was transferred to the office of the Quartermaster General in 1963.

The search for fallen Norwegian soldiers abroad and the consolidation of the foreign war graves in Norway were concluded in 1966. The war graves service was then transferred to the Department of Church Affairs under the then Ministry of Church and Education. Since that time the war graves service has been part of the responsibility of the ministry to which the Department of Church Affairs belongs at any given time.

When the Department of Church Affairs was discontinued as a separate department on 31 December 2015, the war graves service was transferred to the newly established Department of Cultural Heritage and Religious and Life Stance Affairs under the Ministry of Culture.

The war graves service’s archival materials have been given to the National Archives. The Falstad Centre has been assigned the responsibility for the graves registries and other documentation relating to war graves.