A ghost believed to date from World War II has returned to haunt an old asylum known as Vaterholmen, currently being used to house refugees at Verdalen in the north of Norway. At 5.28am on the morning of 15 January 2010, police were called out to the site by terrified residents, whom the officers found gathered in a crowd outside the building. They said they had been driven out by a ghost that had been opening drawers and closets during the night. Even the arrival of the police failed to calm the situation, with many residents refusing to go back inside. Officers then searched the building but their investigation failed to find the cause of the incidents. Subsequently, the police announced their investigation was closed.
The story received widespread coverage in the Norwegian media and is of interest as the asylum already enjoyed a reputation for being haunted. Yvonne Wollartsen, the country’s representative for the Psychical Research Foundation, reports:
“That Vaterholmen is haunted is not something new. Rumours that this old lieutenant’s house is haunted have been circulating for years and several people have had experiences. One of them is Anne Kristiansen, who formerly worked as a cleaning lady at the building. While she was cleaning one of the bedrooms, she heard footsteps coming towards her from one of the beds and then going back again to the bed. She is still puzzled several years later, telling a Norwegian film crew: “It was like the person was walking on tiptoe.” Anne did not originally believe in ghosts when she started there, but she is not so sure today.
“The building even features in a book devoted to the Home Guard of Norway. Three people from the Home Guard were playing cards when they heard lots of noise in the attic. It sounded as if someone was moving furniture around and then coming down the stairs. It walked past their room and immediately one Guard member went running out to intercept the suspected intruder.
“When reaching the door, he had a big surprise. It had been snowing all day but there were no footprints outside. No footprints from anyone coming towards the house or going away, nor of any persons who might have been standing there. He went up to fetch his two friends and they could not explain it either.
“During World War II, the house was occupied by German troops. One soldier named Josef received a letter ordering him to the Eastern Front, where he had previously served. A local man, Karl Johan Bjørgvik, who remembers Josef very well, recalls him crying when he got this message. Depressed and unable to face the prospect of returning, Josef hanged himself in one of the rooms. Since then, although some people have had peaceful nights in Vaterholmen, others have reported encounters with the person they believe is Josef.”
SOURCES: TV 2 Nyhetene, 15 Jan 2010; Tronder-Avisa, 15 Jan 2010; Pers. comm: Yvonne Wollertsen, Norway, 3 Feb 2010.