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Foreword

May 27 1940 the town of Bodø was razed to the ground by German bombers. Just a few structures was left undamaged. Downtown was hardest hit, and Bodø as You may see it today is almost wholly of postwar origin. A time when thousands of people needed housing as fast as possible. That's why the town lacks the cosy alley lanes and old monumental buildings of other Norwegian towns. But behind the drab postwar houses and straight alleys there is a history both exciting and dramatic. A history which may even be viewed today, if You look carefully.

This exhibition is meant as a guide to experience a central episode in the history of the town. An episode which have really shaped the town, both its looks and its atmosphere. "Take a hike" through the streets of Bodø anno May 1940. "Walk" from hose to house, from street to street, and gain a glimpse of some details from this formative event in the life of the town.

On the next page there is a map of Bodø as of the time before the bombing. The map is from 1929, and You may notice that the town was quite a bit smaller then than now. Before the war Bodø had a population of 6.243. But its administrative borders was also smaller than today, with Bodin and Kjerringøy as then separate boroughs. Our trip passes through the outskirts of old Bodø. Downtown was wholly razed by the German bombs in 1940. Those parts of town is on our left. Where we are walking, some more houses was left partially standing. On our right there were only marsh and farmland, an area which in those days went by the name of "the Prairie". Our reason for choosing this route is in three parts: One: where we are walking we have in fact the opportunity to view houses and streets which does in fact preclude the bombing. We'll see houses which were badly destroyed, but not more so than that they often was repaired. Another reason for choosing such a route is to give us a feel for the size of prewar Bodø. But the most important reason is this, though: Our route starts where the first bombs were falling, in the west. Then we follow the German warplanes, street by street as they're moving toward the hospital in the east. In the end we're also taking a detour out on "the Prairie" to look at the airfield which Norwegians and British were labouring madly to erect in May 1940. An airfield meant for British fighters to defend the Bodø area against German airborne assaults... Our route starts outside the oldest museum in town, the Nordland County Museum in its venerable building dating from 1904. It ends at one of the newest buildings in Bodø, Norwegian Aviation Museum which were raised right by the old airfield.

Have a nice trip!