Among the general Norwegian public, there is still a great interest in the history of the Second World War. This lingering fascination is interesting in itself, simultaneously creating a pressure to produce fresh knowledge through academic studies and knowledge based reinterpretation.
At the same time, this is a field of study where the international dimension of the conflict has been nearly non-existent, resulting in final analyses of the Second World War mostly focusing on the Norwegian setting. The complex international dimensions is especially important to understand what happened the last winter of the war, when the Norwegian government in London needed to manoeuvre between the USSR and the Western Allies. The government-in-exile feared being left to deal with the USSR alone after the Allies made the invasion of the Continent their top priority in the summer of 1944, and wanted to have a say in the process of liberating Northern Norway to avoid this area becoming a no-man's-land outside of direct Norwegian control. This created certain tensions between Norwegian authorities and both Western and Eastern Allies, as well as tensions between the government-in-exile and the population of Finnmark itself. Adding to this were also new claims by the USSR concerning Svalbard and Bear Island.
The Norwegian contribution in the liberation of Finnmark is relatively unexplored, both concerning the relations between the local population and Norwegian troops coming from Sweden and Scotland, as well as the question of the scope of collaboration, economically and politically, with the German occupation authorities. The period between the liberation and the Soviet withdrawal from East-Finnmark in September 1945 is all but untouched in the existing literature. It is also worth asking if we in 1945 see increased positioning among the Allies in relation to each other rather than the increased level of tension that was later to come between East and West.
After the Second World War the northern areas grew in importance as the Cold War took hold, with the Norwegian-Soviet border acting as a boundary between the two blocks following the entrance of Norway into NATO in 1949. Between the war time alliance and the later process that led to a western shift in Norwegian affiliations in 1948/49 we find the politics of bridge building that sought to reduce tensions with Norway's powerful eastern neighbour.
It is the northern peripheries of the four countries Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USSR that meet in in the northern territories and these areas are particularly fitting as objects of comparison, with a decent mix of differences and similarities. In common is the experience of being part of an area that gained a totally new strategic importance. Also in common is the 1940's as a period of modernization - first through the war and then the earliest post-war years of investment and development. This can be seen as the foundation for the emergence of the North as a modern geopolitical reality.