Vol. 11



c. 1940; Oslo, Norway "Henrik" illustration: A skier "flies" down a mountainside, surrounded by other mountains.

“Service before self.” This phrase means a lot. My great-grand-uncle named Henrik Palmstrom definitely lived by this saying. It was the spring of 1940 in the snowy country of Norway when the Nazis invaded. Many Norwegians made the decision to flee to safer countries, like England. Henrik, however, made the risky choice to stay. He was working at the University of Oslo, and life would be dangerous for him.

Henrik was living in Oslo when Norway was invaded. His vacation home, however, was a cabin in the wooded countryside. Henrik was against the Nazis, and he had been sending radio transmissions to the Resistance1 ever since the war started. Henrik’s house was in a city, so the safest place for him to send these transmissions was from his cabin. Because of this, he ended up spending a lot of time there. Unfortunately, his cabin wasn’t always going to be so safe.

As winter was approaching, someone from Henrik’s work somehow found out what Henrik was doing. Like Henrik, this person also stayed, but for a much different purpose. Henrik stayed to fight the Nazis; however, this person stayed to help the Nazis. This person tattled on Henrik, and the Nazis planned to find him. Thankfully, someone else discovered that the Nazis were going to go after Henrik, and warned him.

After work that day, Henrik raced over the country roads to his cabin. When he got there, he was trembling with fear and excitement. What was he going to do? Henrik made up his mind. He packed a satchel and placed some important belongings, along with food, in the bag. He reached for his skis, put them on, and escaped out the back door. As the Nazis approached the cabin, Henrik was already on his journey, skiing under the snow-covered trees of the woods. He managed to silently disappear without getting captured by the Nazis.

Henrik kept skiing for a while. The snow glistened in the sunlight as his breath formed icy clouds floating in the air. He kept skiing east until he ended up at the Swedish border. He stayed in Sweden for a little while and then was able to take a boat to England. In England he worked for the Norwegian government in exile. He remained in the refuge of England for the rest of the war. He married an English girl but was able to return to his home in Norway once the war ended.

My great-grand-uncle Henrik was extremely selfless. When the Nazis invaded and everyone fled, Henrik decided to stay. He thought he could do much more to help the Allies2 by staying than by simply running away. Instead of avoiding the problem, he met it face to face. Henrik was not concerned with the safety of himself but rather with the wellbeing of others. He might not have done something heroic, but because of his selflessness I think Henrik should be someone we look up to.

Kristin Nyenhuis; Illinois, USA

Illustrator: Braden White; Missouri, USA (Also on book cover)


1. The Resistance was an organization that worked, often secretly, against the Nazi takeover.

2. The Allies were the twenty-six countries, including Norway, Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union (USSR), that fought against Germany, Japan, and other countries in World War II.



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