Only ten days later Josip Tito was in contact with Moscow and began building restistance groups around the country. The Partisan Army was officially created later in June and by September it counted 70.000 partisans ready for guerilla warfare against the Germans , pro-nazi militia and rivalling partisan groups. The German answer to guerilla attacks was mass arrests of political activists , teachers and suspected partisans who was sent to concentration camps. Large massacres was also carried out on the civillian population.
About the same time as things unfolded in the Balkans , Hitler issued a "Führerbefehl" demanding a inland route for moving troops and iron ore through Norway. This meant that a road and railroad had to be laid all the way from the Arctic Circle to Kirkenes and Murmansk. He ordered this project to be complete within 4 years. Also the Atlantik Wall was under construction along the coastline. This work was carried out by Wehrmacht troops , RAD , the Norwegian Road Council , several Norwegian and German civillian entrepreneurs and a growing number of Soviet POWs , all supervised and controlled by Org.Todt. To meet Hitlers demand on the 4 year plan a much larger workforce was needed and so 145000 Soviet POWs was sent to Norway and spread out through hundreds of camps.
Early in 1942 a group of workers from the Norwegian Road Council was set to build some barracks in a forest some kilometers northeast from the village Rognan in Nordland. At first the workers didn`t think much of it , but when material for watchtowers and large quantities of barbed wire arrived they understood that this camp wasn`t for ordinary workers.
Again they was chased into a ships hull eagerly helped by hits and kicks from guards and kapos , criminal elements among the prisoners that volunteered to work for the Germans. In the cold and dark hull no one had any idea which direction the ship took , but when allowed up on the deck some of the partisans knew they were heading North. Many of them was confused and lost track of day and night because of the midnight sun. Several days later the ship came to a halt and as the Yugoslavs squinted their eyes in the sun after hours in darkness they could see they was in a fjord surrounded by low , forested mountains. In the bottom of the fjord they saw a small village and from a bay a kilometer away a smaller boat came towards the ship.
The German guards bid them farewell with the usual beating and shouting as the boat took group after group ashore. It was July 25 and 472 partisans had been marched from the beach up a gravel road passing a few houses and into the forest where the camp was.
About a week after arrival the SS guards was reinforced by a group of Norwegian SS guards and they proved to be much more brutal than the Germans , some of these guards was very young only 16-17 years old. It was also now the prisoners really saw what a sadist Kiefer was. He started "exercising" the guards every sunday , driving them hard with Preussian style military workouts. He also made himself a steel hammer with a spike on one end and he loved to hit both prisoners and guards with it , which led to him getting nicknamed "the Hammer". After the war both guards and prisoners described how Kiefer had enjoyed beating and torturing people.
A few weeks after arrival the first killings happened. On the way to work one morning a Norwegian guard killed one and wounded 3 prisoners in what the guard thought was an escape attempt. About the same time the Germans asked prisoners that was sick to step forward to be sent to hospital , 4 men believed this lie and was escorted away. The next day some other prisoners spotted four fresh graves.
In the beginning of September one of the partisans managed to sneak away before being marched back to camp. He knew the guards wouldn`t make a head count before back in the camp so when they left he ran. After a while he found a building and went inside for some rest but he fell asleep. The search party soon found him , he tried to commit suicide but the guards stopped him and beat him half to death and dragged him back to camp. From this point the terror from the SS and kapos became worse and the killing escalated and sickness also started to spread.
The polar winter set in hard and helped the Germans decimate the prisoner population , and mid January the "sick-barrack" was again filled up. Rumours started spreading that another massacre was underway , and the 25th January it happened. This time around 50 was shot which left only 218 of the original 472 still alive.
In the following months the violence continued but in springtime something happened. A Wehrmacht General came on inspection and both treatment and food became a little better , and in the middle of May commandant Kiefer was replaced and all the SS guards replaced with Wehrmacht. The partisans time as Nacht und Nebel had ended and they were officially prisoners of war.
Now they could recieve Red Cross parcels , they organized resistance and political work and the criminal kapos lost their positions.
Velimir Popovic made the first succesfull escape from Botn. He had help from locals that took him to Sweden in may 1943. Later in the summer a few other managed to get away and over to Sweden but some were shot trying to flee.
The partisans stayed in Botn until 1st June 1944. They was loaded onto trucks and driven a few miles south to a larger camp , Pothus , and later up to a mountain camp by the Arctic Circle while Soviet POWs moved into Botn.
Julie Johansen the brave old lady was presented a badge of honor from Tito personally for the kindness she showed the prisoners.
Fritz Kiefer was executed in Yugoslavia in 1947 and so was 24 of the SS guards having served in the camps in Northern Norway. Of around 4100 partisans sent to Norway 2368 died in different camps.
Today there is a Yugoslavian war cemetery in Botn where 1657 partisans from camps in Northern Norway is buried. On the exact site of the camp is a German war cemetery with 2730 soldiers that fell in Northern Norway.