Lise Borsum – Gift #4 from Norway – Swedish Red Cross White Bus Rescue

Lisa Borsom - Swedish Red Cross White Bus Rescue

Lise Borsum - Swedish Red Cross White Bus Rescue

Born September 18, 1908, Norwegian citizen Lise Borsum was “just the wife of wealthy Norwegian doctor Ragnar Borsum”[1] until her circumstances required her to become much more.

When World War II broke out she rose to the occasion becoming part of a network to help Jews escape to Sweden.

Gift #4  Lise Borsum

Taking great risks to use their home as a base for the network and creatively using piano concerts as a cover for their illegal and punishable activities, Lise and Ragnar were key players in the escape of many Norwegian Jews.

Their work with the escape network was discovered in 1943, and despite her husband being able to escape, Lise Borsum was taken to Germany and eventually transported to Ravensbrück as a “Nacht und Nebel” prisoner.[2]

She was also transported on the MS Monte Rosa, the ship which took Nelly Langholm (see Gift #3) to Ravensbrück.

These “Nacht und Nebel” (Night and Fog) prisoners were part of a directive that Hitler issued in late 1941 to target “political activists and resistance helpers in the territories occupied by Nazi Germany”.

The directive outlined that they were to “be imprisoned, murdered, or made to disappear.” Most people arrested under this directive were never heard from again.

Lise was. And her voice became a loud one.

Lise Borsum Book - Swedish Red Cross White Bus Rescue

After her rescue by the White Buses in April of 1945, Børsum continued her involvement in the resistance and began writing books about her experiences as a prisoner in the concentration camps.

Prisoner in Ravensbrück was published in 1946, followed shortly thereafter by Reflections in 1947.

She continued her work through service on the National Council Fund to help victims of war and became a member of The International Commission Against the Concentration Camp Regime[3] with a goal to root out and destroy concentration camps all over the world.

Part of this commission led to her publishing another book in 1951 on the Soviet concentration camps, District Court of Moscow from today’s Berlin and Soviet Prison Camps.

She was also a freelance writer for Norway’s Dagbladet Newspaper, and mother to famous Norwegian actress Bente Børsum.

Bente currently serves on the International Ravensbrück Committee, taking over for Nelly Langholm (see Gift #3).

Bente states

 “I remember everything from the war, especially [when] my mother was away from me for two long years”.

Lise Borsum with her daughter Bente

By the time of her death in 1985, Lise Borsum was known as a fearless leader and a powerful voice.

Her writings and membership on international committees since her rescue in 1945 have installed her as a significant contributor to the betterment of the world and an example to future leaders and activists against the horrors of war and imprisonment.

Compelled by her own experiences and unable to remain silent, Lise has given the world an immeasurable gift of knowledge and an example of what it means to stand against all odds to protect our fellow brothers and sisters.

Her courageous involvement in human rights throughout the rest of her life impacted people across the globe. Her gift was an unselfish courage and stalwart activism.

[1] Fearless Females: 10 Resistance Fighters from World War I & II You Might Not heard of (


[3] founded in The Hague in 1950, with a view to denouncing the existence of concentration camps in the world today and to protecting the human rights defined by the charter of the United Nations

This story is part of:


Gift #5 Manya Friedman