AMALIE LAKSOV’S (b. Scheer) Memorial Fund for the Protection of Human Rights was set up by Amalie Laksov in 1983, in the memory of her four brothers, Carl, Benjamin, Harry and Leonard Scheer, and her husband Håkon Laksov, who were all murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. In accordance with the Fund’s statutes, the prize is to be awarded «people or institutions who through action, in writing, speech or through the arts have defended human rights and opposed racial and religious discrimination». The prize relates to the condition of human rights in Norway, and to the promotion of human rights in Norway.
The Scheer family was Jewish and stemmed from Tsarist Russia. In 1909, David and Sara Scheer settled in Bergen, Norway. They had seven children by 1919: Carl, Lilly, Benjamin, Amalie, Harry, Esther and Leonard. In Bergen, both parents ran various separate stores until the early 1933 when they established “Grand Magasin”, a relatively large and soon well-known and much appreciated store in the centre of Bergen.
When the Second World War came to Norway in April 1940, Amalie was married to Håkon Laksov in Oslo. Håkon was a lawyer and the secretary of the Jewish Congregation in Oslo (DMT). Amalie and Håkon had a son in 1940, named Dan. Amalie’s mother and youngest brother had also moved to Oslo in 1939, as did her sisters Lilly and Esther in 1940. Her brother Benjamin had already settled in Oslo in the mid-1930s and ran his own store. Amalie’s father passed away in early 1940. Therefore, only Carl and Harry were left in Bergen, and they continued running “Grand Magasin”. No legislative measures were specifically imposed on Jewish businesses during the first two years of the occupation. Nor did any other legislation target all Jews in Norway during that period. This gradually changed from January 1942, when everyone in Norway with three Jewish grandparents was requested to register and fill out a lengthy form. Sara and all her children, along with Håkon Laksov, did as they were told.
The first nation-wide arrests of Norwegian Jews took place on 26 October 1942, following an arrest warrant on all Jewish men above the age of 15. Håkon was brought to the Berg internment camp, as was Harry from Bergen. Benjamin and Leonard went into hiding, but came forward after a few days, presumably out of fear of retaliations against the rest of the family. Carl was arrested at hospital on 18 November, most likely after he too had gone into hiding. On 26 November, Carl, Benjamin, Leonard, Harry and Håkon were all deported to Germany and Poland together with more than 500 other Jews in Norway. All five men ended up in Auschwitz, never to return.
Sara Scheer and her three daughters Lilly, Esther and Amalie along with Amalie’s son Dan were among more than a thousand Jews in Norway who fled across the border into Sweden, largely with the help of the Norwegian residence movement.
Sara Scheer was naturally deeply affected by the loss of her four sons and her son-in-law. In addition, one of Sara’s brothers, together with his wife and two children, had been murdered in Auschwitz. Sara passed away just over a year after the end for the war, in November 1946. In Sweden, Esther met Sam Alterman, who was a Jewish refugee from Denmark. They married and settled in Denmark with two children. Esther passed away in the early 1990s. Lilly stayed in Oslo and ran her own store. She passed away in 1980. Amalie re-established a smaller version of “Grand Magasin” in Bergen after the original one had had been confiscated and ruined during the occupation. She passed away in Bergen in 2008 at the age of 97. Her son Dan was a professor in mathematics and passed away in Stockholm 25. October at the age of 72.
Main source: Sebak, Per Kristian, «’vi blir neppe nogensinne mange her’ – jøder i Bergen 1851-1945». For more information on the book, please click here.