“THE TIME SPENT IN CAPTIVITY GAVE LISA BORSUM AN EMPATHY TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO HAD WOUNDS ON THEIR BODY AND SOUL. SHE WAS UNCONVENTIONAL, COURAGEOUS, AND WOULD NEVER REFUSE ANYONE HELP.”
After the outbreak of war, Lise soon joined the resistance. In October 1942, the Børsum family home became a centre for rescuing Norwegian Jews. Concerts were held there with Jewish artists performing. Then Lise Børsum became part of a network that organised refugee transports to neutral Sweden. On the night of 28 April 1943, Mr and Mrs Børsum were arrested. Lise was imprisoned at Grini prison camp in Oslo from 27 April to 13 June 1943. Then she was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. She was assigned prison number 20807. There were only 102 Norwegian prisoners in the camp. Occasionally they were allowed to receive food packages from the Red Cross. However, Lise was registered as a prisoner in the Nacht und Nebel programme, so she was to be in total isolation and was not allowed to receive letters or parcels. Fellow Norwegian prisoners sometimes gave her food from the Swedish Red Cross packages.
On the verge of death, rescue came in the form of the “white buses” sent by the Swedish Red Cross to bring Scandinavian prisoners home before chaos broke out in April 1945.
In 1946, she published the book “Fange i Ravensbrück” (“Prisoner in Ravensbrück”), in which, among other things, she described how she was tortured during interrogation. Her courage and her sober account of her experiences made a great impression. The book was published in four editions over two years. Later, other books followed, the last in 2007 at the suggestion of her daughter Bente (who also dramatized a monologue based on the book and as an actress she performed it for a number of years). The book was named one of the ten most important books about the war in Norway.
In 1947, she began working for the National Fund for Aid to War Victims, which she led from 1966 until she retired. She was also a member of the International Commission against Concentration Camp Practices (Commission internationale contre le régime concentrationnaire) from when it was founded in 1950. She visited Ravensbrück once after the war but was in contact with several fellow prisoners for many years. She bought a piano from the financial compensation she received for her time spent in prison.
Lise Børsum’s daughter