Berger Berg

Berger Berg

Biarritz, France

September, 1945

Shortly after Germany declared war on the US, a prominent citizen and his wife from my hometown of Ironwood, Michigan disappeared. Rumors spread through town that although Berger Berg had a wel -paying supervisory position with the US Forest Service, he and his wife left town because of bills.

I didn’t believe that! My folks knew the Bergs. We were puzzled over their disappearances.

Berger had come to this country from Norway, and became a naturalized citizen. Berger and his friend Torger Tokle, another naturalized Norwegian, were two excellent ski jumpers. They participated in ski jumping tournaments in Ironwood.

In those early years at home, I was in the junior category, and Berger was in the senior category. Still, I got to know him at the tournaments.

In September of 1945, I was enrolled at Biarritz American University, Biarritz, France. Even though I had enough “points” to go home, my Army unit was declared “essential.” We had a lot of work to do and couldn’t go home yet. I chose to go to school in my spare time.

My billet at the University was in the oceanside Miramar Hotel, which was Napoleon’s favorite vacation spot. One day as I began ascending some stone steps up from the beach to the hotel, I spotted Berger sitting alongside the stairs. As I drew near, he saw me and we shouted each other’s names.

I grinned, “Berger!”

He smiled, “Johnson!”

A young French mademoiselle was with me. I introduced her and we all sat down.

“Where have you been?” I asked.

Berger told his story. “My wife and I left Ironwood under fabricated circumstances.” He took a breath and looked off at the water, remembering. “I was recruited by the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) to return to Norway and sabotage the German infrastructure.”

He told us of a few of the actions he undertook in his nearly three years in Norway.

As we parted, Berger and I promised to get together again–back home.

Once I got home, I heard Berger returned home and went back to the Forest Service Sadly, he was assigned to a different location and we never did get together again.

Le (Sept. ‘15) adds a few details. “The mademoiselle I was with that day had created her swim suit from a dyed US Army parachute. Berger’s friend, Torger Tokel, the eminent ski jumper, joined the US Army, and was in the US Army Ski Division, which was later changed to the 10th Mountain Division. He was killed in combat in Italy during 1944.”

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