" If Democracy wins there may be a hundred years of darkness. If Germany wins, no one can know how long darkness will cover the earth. And even if England wins, we must watch for a recurrence of totalitarian ideas. No matter what the end is, there will be no more gladness on earth in our time. But ultimately civilisation will be resurrected, ultimately the people of the world who represent the Christian way of life will triumph over the diabolical forces of darkness."
With these words, Madame Sigrid Undset, Norwegian convert and Nobel Prize winner for literature, concluded her lecture at Washington before a distinguished audience of nearly 1,000, including Crown Princess Martha of Norway and her retinue of five, diplomats, and members of the Catholic clergy.
Madame Undset linked the fate of Norway with that of Finland, saying that Norway aided Finland in her struggle against Russia only less than Sweden, because her resources were less, and that the breaking of the Finnish lines by Russia had sickened the heart of Norway.
" We had spent many sleepless nights hoping and praying," she said. " Not even when our own country was invaded, not even when I did not know where my own sons were, when German planes were bombing our towns and cities and killing our people, did I experience the nervewracking ordeal of those days when we waited for bulletins of the Finnish war."
Madame Undset told of the farewell of her eldest son, Anders: " I'm going for a little ski-ing trip in the mountains "—pointing to the skis he was to use to speed to join his regiment, and his death three weeks later.
" There was nothing the matter with the fighting spirit of our boys," she said. " Norwegian soldiers fought and retired . . . retired to advance and fight again, sleepless for three weeks, until the last round of ammunition had been fired." She told of " white-hot rage and sickening revolt at German methods." She quoted the words of a Norse girl whose fiance had been killed in the war: " I wish I could sob until my own death, but I do not wish he had not fought."
" The Germans have suppressed freedom in my country," she said, " but the Norwegian spirit will live on. It will not be possible for gangsters ruling millions of slaves to enforce their will indefinitely. Some day the darkness will have to subside, some day the forces of the spirit will be resurgent."
Madame Undset, whose mother was buried the day before Hitler struck Oslo, was dressed all in black, with her long hair parted in the middle and drawn tightly over her head. She spoke in English.