Svalbard – A Woman in the Polar Night - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Svalbard – A Woman in the Polar Night

Svalbard – A Woman in the Polar Night

Published April 21, 2009

A tiny hut on the snowbound northern coast of Svalbard was home to the Austrian couple Christiane and Hermann Ritter during the winter of 1933–1934. Christiane Ritter’s superb book about her year in Svalbard came out just before World War II, and the German-language edition is still in print (Eine Frau erlebt die Polarnacht). She would not have come but for her husband, who had already made several trips to Svalbard, and she describes her ambivalence at leaving her civilized Central European life to keep house in the far north for her husband and his hunting and trapping buddies. Ultimately, she comes to love the Arctic, and her depiction of raw nature and isolated beauty is second to none. During World War II, Hermann Ritter’s Svalbard experience landed him a job running a German weather station in Greenland. The station was discovered, and Ritter ended the war as an Allied prisoner in Scoresbysund before returning to Austria, where he died in 1968 and Christiane Ritter in 2000.
Not held by any Icelandic library, but used copies are for sale on abebooks.com for about $8. Easily available used or new in German.


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