Edvarda Hole

Edvarda Ragnhild was born in the parish of Nesset in September 1887, a day’s walk north-east of the town of Molde on the west coast of Norway. Curiously, her baptism has not been found in the parish records, but as one church was torn down in 1885, and the present one built in 1878, but in a different location it is possible that some records have been lost.

Her parents were the rural police chief, Erik Ingebriktson Hole, and Elise Hanstad; they had two children already[i]. Erik was, by many accounts, a remarkable man who was engaged in local and regional matters and who was rewarded for his contributions by being awarded the King’s Medal of Merit in silver[ii].

The first of the siblings was Ivar Andreas who took up his father’s occupation elsewhere, and Marie Antonette who, with her husband Erling Kloster, eventually settled in Eagle Grove in Iowa.

Edvarda was number three and after her followed Olav Halvdan, who eventually took over the farm, with Agnes Ingeborg as the fifth child.

In 1891[iii], at the census of that year, the family is found on the farm Hargaut – actually only a position of it which Edvarda’s father had bought in 1880 for the sum of 4’500 Norwegian crowns. In the census record one learns that both parents came from other parts of the country: Erik from Lesja, Elise from Lillehammer. All the children have survived, so far. In addition to them the farm also sees Erik’s own father, the 70-year-old widower Ingebrigt Eriksen. And, as usual, servant girls. Three of them: Hanna Jakobsdatter from Lesja (36); Eli Larsdatter from Visdal (46); and Beret Anna Andersdatter who was a local and 26 years old.

Following the census, Edvarda had several younger siblings: Sigval Alfred who became a sailor and died in Brooklyn in 1960; Solveig who married within the district; Erling Trygve who was born in 1896 and died the same year, and, the vary last, Erling. He became a professor and worked in the Department of Agriculture in Washington.

In 1900[iv] there was another census, and the family lives on the same farm, Hargaut. Edvarda is listed as a pupil, her oldest brother as house-teacher and as employed in the rural police office, i.e. by his dad, all the other children except the youngest were also pupils. Some or all of the children are being home schooled, for in the household there is also 26-year old Marie Sannæs is governess and teacher. A 23-year old, Astrid Barstein, is employed as child-minder. The household is completed Marie Svenson, a 33-year old who is the milkmaid: they must have had rather more cows than most people.

In the autumn of 1909 Edvarda travelled by from Norway ship and at some stage came to Liverpool where she boarded SS Caronia, headed for New York. She arrived there 22 September[v].

How long she staid and what she did there is not known.

In 1933/34 Edvarda attended – or at least was proposed[vi] to attend – the League of Red Cross Societies course at Bedford College in London, an institution with which the League collaborated in providing advanced nursing training, and in conjunction with which the organization had established a home at 15, Manchester Square. The course she was to attend was the one for “Nurse Administrators and Teachers”.

The proposal from the Secretariat of the League contains some minimal biographical information about each candidate.

Here one learns that her home schooling ended in 1901, and that she after this attended high school for three years. What she did after this – apart from going off to New York – she did during the following 8-9 years is not known, but in 1914/15 she attended the “Red Cross School of Nursing”, whether in Oslo or Bergen is not known.

After completing her training, she worked as a nurse for the Red Cross for a couple of years, before deciding to earn some money and went into private nursing. This was followed by a stint as Head Nurse at an outpatient clinic and practice in the operating theatre.

At the time of application to the course in London, Edvarda worked as a Ward Sister in the Red Cross Hospital, where she was responsible for teaching student nurses.

She had good command of English, and was in good health, but age was an issue:

“This candidate is above the age limit but is strongly recommended by the Norwegian Red Cross where she holds a post on the staff of the School and in the Hospital.

She is also recommended by Miss E. Moe (Old International 1924/25) who is Superintendent of Nursing in the Norwegian Red Cross Hospital”.

Having completed her training in London as a “Special Student[vii]” with a half scholarship[viii], Edvarda returned to Norway where Drammen branch of the Red Cross had embarked on a cooperative venture with one of the senior doctors at the local hospital to establish a nursing school. This School opened in 1935[ix] who took up the position of Matron.

During her stay in London, the students staying at Manchester Square, in September 1933 went on an excursion to Papworth Village Settlement – where about 1’000 people suffering from tuberculosis lived – and worked. She wrote about this in the Norwegian Red Cross Magazine, and the article was later reproduced[x] in the newspaper of the Labour Party, on their women’s page. The description of the settlement is rather glowing – and ends with a reflection on whether the idea could be useful in Norway, too.

During these years Edvarda’s parents passed away – her father in 1932 and her mother in 1935.

Edvarda Hole

In 1940 war arrived in Norway – and to Drammen, something which was bound to affect a hospital – not least due to the many German soldiers, who also sometimes needed medical attention.

During the war Edvarda Hole got in trouble with the German occupation authorities, which was reported internally through their channels [xi]:

2. Deutschfeindliches Verhalten einer Schwester des Roten Kreuzes

Die im Städt. Krankenhaus in Drammen als Oberschwester tätige Rote Kreuz-Schwester Evarda Hole, geboren am 18.9.87, gelangte hier zur Anzeige, weil sie eine Lehrscwester wegen ihres deutschfreundligen Verhaltens zur Entlassung gebracht hatte.

Von hier durchgeführte Ermittlungen ergaben, dass i Lehrschwester [N.N.] sich mit einem Angehörigen der SS-Verfügungsgruppe in Drammen angefreundet hatte und mit dem SS-Mann mehrfach gesehen worden war. Als die Oberschwester hierfor Kenntnis erhielt, veranlasste si die fristlose Entlassung der Lehrschwester. Gegen diese fristlose Entlassung erhob die Lehrschwester Einspruch und bestand nach Rücksprache mit dem SS-Mann, der im Zivil-beruf Jurist ist, auf fristgerechter kündigung. Diese fristgerichte Kündigung wurde sodann nach Vortrag der Oberschwester durch den leitenden Arzt des Krankenhauses, Dr. Nikolaysen ausgesprochen. Als Grund zur Kündigung wurde undiszipliniertes Verhalten angegeben.

Die Oberschwester H o l e machte am gleichen Tage der [N.N] wegen ihres Umganges mit deutschen Soldaten vorhaltungen und versammelte alle Schülerinnen des Roten Kreuzes im Städt. Krankenhaus, etwa 60-70 Mädels um ihnen Verhaltungsmassreglen hinsichtlich des umganges mit deutschen Soldaten zu geben. Sie erklärten den Schülerinnen, man müsse im Ungang mit deutschen Soldaten sehr vorsichtig sein und immer bedenken, die deutschen Soldaten als Feinde nach Norwegen gekommen, und Norwegen befinde sich noch heute im Kriegszustand mit Deutschland. Viele Väter und Brüder seien in diesem Kriege von den Deutschen getötet worden und diesdürfe man nicht vergessen. Außerdem wies sie darauf hin, dass die in das Krankenhauseingelieferten deutschen Soldaten gleich Norwegern zu behandeln seien, dass sie jedoch nicht so verwöhnt und liebvoll behandelt werden sollten wie der englische Soldat, der sich einige Zeit im Krankenhaus befundet hatte.

In ihrer Vernehmung gab die Beschuldigte an sie habe sich verpflichtet gefühlt die Schülerinnen hinsichtlich ihres Umganges mit deutschen Soldaten aus moralischen Gründen zu warnen, und sie der Ansicht, dass sie für manches Mädchen Elternstelle zu vertreten habe.

Da nach den Ermittlungen feststand, dass die Oberschwester die treibende Kraft gewesen ist, die zur Entlassung des deutschfreundlich eingestellten Mädchens geführt hat, wurde sie für die Dauer der Ermittlungen vorlaüfig festgenommen. Ausßerdem wurde ihre Entlaßung aus dem Städt. Krankenhaus veranlaßt, da sie nach ihrem Verhalten nicht mehr dazu geeignet erschien, in einem Krankenhaus mit Lehrschwesternausbildung eine leitende Stellung als Oberschwester einzunähen. Die gleich Ernöffnung wurde dem Oberartz des Krankenhaus, Dr. Nikolaysen, gemacht.

Nach Abschluss der Ermittlungen wurde die Beschuldigte nach eindringender Warnung wieder aus der Haft entlassen. Dem Sekretär des Norwegische Roten Kreuzes, der in diese Angelegenheit hiervorsprach, wurde mitgeteilt, daß das Verhalten der Oberschwester ihre weitere Beschäftigung als leitende Schwester unmöglich gemacht habe und eine Entlassung erforderlich sei“.

Edvarda was, in other words, sacked[xii] – it was 8 September 1940, and the occupation had lasted less than half a year. She had just started a first aid-course, probably did not finish it, but was described[xiii] by a participant as both lively and inspiring.

In a history[xiv] of the Norwegian Red Cross during the occupation, the conflict that led to Edvarda’s dismissal is described somewhat differently. Here the story is she dismissed a student nurse for serious disciplinary misdemeanors, a dismissal that would have been seen as entirely reasonable had not the student nurse gone to the local Waffen SS Commander with her complaint. He “politicized” the issue, and it rose in the occuapation structures all the way to the Reich Commissariat in Norway – the highest authority in the land. The Norwegian Red Cross argued that the whole matter was an ordinary personnel one and sought support from the Sanitary Servies of the German Armed Forces – and received it. The Society had, when also Dr Nicoaysen was interrogated and the Occypying Authorities threatened to close the hospita and the school they had to back down. The Red Cross had to cancel its contract with Edvarda, but gave her a job at Headquarters in Oslo, where she was the manager of the office for Nursing issues. The girl whose dismissal had precipitated this whole little drama was reinstated – but not much later dismissed again: this time without any German intervention on her behalf.

One of the achievements Edvarda could chalk up in her new role was that  of opening a nursing school in northern Norway, which would reinforce the nursing capacity in that part of the country during a period of difficult communications. The nursing department – referred to as the “Sister Department” oversaw some 930 nurses across the country, so it was a considerable operation. She was intreviewed about this in a west coast newspaper[xv] in November 1942.

8 May 1945 the German Armed Forces in Norway capitulated; the same day the individual who had filled the position of Matron was sacked, and Edvarda came back into her old role, and staid in that position till 15 ctober 1948[xvi]. The next year the hospital employed its first neurologist – and who is mentioned here solely because of his name: Dr Emblem.

In the spring of 1946, it appears, Edvarda – who lived in Drammen – boarded the good ship Fernmoor and arrived in New York 15 May that year. She is listed as nurse by profession, with the Red Cross as her employer. The immigration record[xvii] shows that she could read and write English.

The visit to New York was reported in a newspaper published there: “Nordisk Tidende” or “Nordic Times” – published in Norwegian. In the edition[xviii] of 6 June 1946, one article is headed “Matron Edvarda Hole at Drammen Hospital has come here to study hospital administration” and goes on to note, as a subtitle, that she had been awarded the Norwegian Red Cross “Sign of Honour” at the first annual meeting of the organization after the war – on the same occasion as Folke Bernadotte was given the same.

Apart from sharing impressions from Norway during occupation, she said she had been asked to go to America by the director of her hospital, as he felt that the Norwegian health sector could learn a lot from the hospitals to be visited. Edvarda, reflecting her own professional experience, thought there would be an equal benefit to be reaped by visiting nursing schools. The programme would be worked out with the International Council of Nurses in New York, and would fill much of the six months she planned on staying.

The sources have very little to say about Edvardas life and work over the following years, until in 1960 it was announced that she had been awarded the King’s Medal of Merit – in gold. She received it during an audience with His Majesty – at that time Olav V – Monday 2 January 1961[xix].

Edvarda Hole and Dr Nicolaysen around 1960

Around that time, or a little earlier, the 25th anniversary of the nursing school in Drammen was celebrated, and many old colleagues – such as Edvarda and Dr Nicolaysen – met one another again. The photo shows Edvarda giving her old boss flowers on that occasion.

Five years after receiving the Medal of Merit, Edvarda was back in New York, this time in the context of Nordmannsforbundet – the “Norse Federation” – which had organized a charter flight from Oslo 3 November 1966. 150 people from all parts of Norway participated[xx].

Edvarda, who now lived in Oslo, continued a quiet existence for another 10 years, and passed away 7 April 1976[xxi].

[i] The information about the family has been taken from Roaldset, Ottar; Gards- og ættesoge for Nesset. 2; Nemnda, 1974; pp 284-285, https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2015011424003

[ii] Romsdals Budstikke; Molde, 22.05.1923; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_romsdalsbudstikke_null_null_19230522_80_112_1

[iii] Folketelling 1891 for 1543 Nesset herred; https://www.digitalarkivet.no/census/person/pf01053053000856

[iv] Folketelling 1900 for 1543 Nesset herred; https://www.digitalarkivet.no/census/person/pf01037398000774

[v] https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger-details/czoxMjoiMTAxNjgzMDYwMTcxIjs=/czo5OiJwYXNzZW5nZXIiOw==

[vi] https://repository.royalholloway.ac.uk/file/b8542b38-1d2e-4fbe-91c7-5f02b2837025/1/BC_AL_333_6_15.pdf [vii] https://repository.royalholloway.ac.uk/file/47042816-c205-465a-a044-d132de26bcce/1/BC_AL_335_19.pdf

[viii] http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME082-1934/page015-volume82-january1934.pdf [ix] Palmer, Herbert; Drammen røde kors 50 år; [Foreningen], 1967; p 25, https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2016090848245 [x] Arbeiderbladet (Oslo); 04.01.1934; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_arbeiderbladetoslo_null_null_19340104_52_3_1

[xi] Meldungen aus Norwegen 1940-1945, Die geheimen Lageberichte des Befehlshabers der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD in Norwegen; edited by Stein Ugelvik Larsen, Beatrice Sandberg, Volker Dahm; R. Oldenbourg Verlag München 2008; pp 115-116: https://books.google.no/books?id=nm_oBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA115&lpg=PA115&dq=%22edvarda+Hole%22&source=bl&ots=yvsdigfaVi&sig=ACfU3U3EmtKfyIoctkW5hpi0kfCg3ibBYg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwim4MDv75HnAhXpo4sKHWXOCXIQ6AEwAnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22edvarda%20Hole%22&f=false [xii] Palmer, Herbert; Drammen sykehus/Buskerud sentralsykehus 100 år; [Sentralsykehuset], 1987; p 65; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2015042008080

[xiii] Palmer, Herbert; Drammen sykehus/Buskerud sentralsykehus 100 år; [Sentralsykehuset], 1987; p 347; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2015042008080

[xiv] Schilling, Dag Fr. Chr.|Ottersen, Kåre; Barmhjertighetsfronten : Norges røde kors under krigen 1940-1945; Norges Røde kors, 1995; p 135; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2008031200036

[xv] Fylkestidende for Sogn og Fjordane; Kinn, 07.11.1942; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_fylkestidendeforsognogfjordane_null_null_19421107_70_60_1

[xvi] Palmer, Herbert; Drammen sykehus/Buskerud sentralsykehus 100 år; [Sentralsykehuset], 1987; p 366; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2015042008080

[xvii] “New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-994J-BV29?cc=1923888&wc=MFK4-W29%3A1030132201 : 2 October 2015), 7104 – vol 15303-15304, May 16, 1946 > image 55 of 989; citing NARA microfilm publication T715 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

[xviii] Nordisk Tidende; 06.06.1946; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_nordisktidende_null_null_19460606_56_23_1

[xix] Arbeiderbladet (Oslo); , 03.01.1961; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_arbeiderbladetoslo_null_null_19610103_76_2_1

[xx] Nordisk Tidende; 03.11.1966; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_nordisktidende_null_null_19661103_75_44_1

[xxi] Aftenposten; Oslo, 09.04.1976; https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digavis_aftenposten_null_null_19760409_117_169_1; accessible from terminals in Norwegian libraries.

By admin

30-odd years with the Movement - National Society, International Federation and Standing Commission, for some reason never ICRC.
Presently a free spirit and attached to Sandefjord Red Cross