The war between Denmark and Norway still rages on

Image copyright AFP Image caption The first anniversary of the Battle of Eder in Norway will be commemorated in the town of Leroege, close to the German border

On 26 June, the second anniversary of the Battle of Eder, the same Danish town which survived numerous sieges in WWII, will gather to remember its citizens.

Even so, in the village of Astridlea, some 70km (43 miles) north of the Norwegian border, there is already some unease in the air.

“As it is the battle’s second anniversary, you can imagine that many people are going to be excited,” says Joost Joost Nielsen, a councilor of Astridlea.

It is also the last anniversary where locals will actually have the chance to join in the remembrance and feasting, as the statue of three men admiring a victory and showing a straight-arm salute to the thundering enemy is to be removed.

Toward that end, visitors will be able to enjoy Eder 90, a four-day festival celebrating 60 years of relations between Norway and Denmark. And you’ll also get a different look at the unique characters which used to live here, and the social problems that would make sure the two countries stayed bound.

Behind that tough exterior there is also a complex and fascinating history.

‘It’s not about remembering’

The Battle of Eder was a collaboration between Denmark and the UK to capture Eder Island. It was an important part of the bigger Allied effort to relieve the pressure on French and German armies on the French side of the island of the same name. But while Norway and Denmark gained the island, a big chunk of Eder was lost to the Germans.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The monument to Eder Island was destroyed by an allied bombing raid during the war

Those who survived remember it as a dejected place for the elderly and children. While Denmark began rebuilding the town, Norway adopted a “witch” policy of persecuting Danish and Norwegian residents as enemy aliens.

“The (British) consul in Denmark did not explain things well. The issues of the Eder attack brought out a lot of different (European) communities because they were looking for common ground,” says Einar Soetien Jensen, a lawyer and veteran of the Swedish roundtable discussions which acted as a bridge between the two countries.

Image copyright AFP Image caption A member of the British military inspects the wreckage of a submarine from the fight.

Today, those same communities meet for many of the social and cultural activities that Denmark is known for.

One of them is the Norwegian Brueggerrun Rundteam, the annual competition which turns the residents of Astridlea into local super heroes, who risk their lives to get closer to the last concentration camp on Eder Island before being defeated and sent back to Denmark.

The line between the everyday and the extraordinary is clear in Astridlea as much as anywhere else, and that’s the key to local relations.

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