Kong Oscar II Kapell – Grense Jakobselv Border Norway – Russia
The world stops here a bit, at least for people who never leave Western Europe. Here, in the small border town Jakobselv with its eponymous river, the northern land border between Norway and Russia, which now follows on a length of about 200 kilometers to the south. The fact that a church like the Kong Oscar II Kapell makes its contribution to border protection in a very peaceful way is a story of its own.
But the Cold War of my childhood days is unforgotten and it seems like it is creeping and increasingly back again. An illegal border crossing can be very unpleasant and with all the fascination, it is easy to pay attention to a few things, which we address in a separate article.
When Jakobsleva was still a river in nowhere
The limit, as we know it today, did not exist long ago. Because in this area lived the standard people of the Eastern Seeds, who roamed with their animals. They needed no borders, because they just moved with the animals and settled down accordingly. However, the neighboring states could not easily imagine dealing in the border area and sought an official demarcation. Norway and Russia agreed in 1826 on a common border, the area was divided.
Norway thus had very rich fishing grounds in the Barents Sea. Of course, that was also known to the fishermen on the Russian side and they ignored the official border. The Norwegian fishermen were worried about their income and called on the regional administration in Vadsø to put an end to this endeavor and so a captain’s lieutenant was sent to assess the situation on the ground. He confirmed the facts.
The Kong Oscar II Kapell in Jakobselv
But he did not want to follow the wish for gunboats. His strategy was a heavenly one. He had a church built on the Norwegian side, which was visible far from the sea. He knew about the religiosity of the Russians and their respect for a church. The granite church was consecrated in 1869 by Frederick Waldemar Hvoslef and from then on was considered a naval sign.
Four years later, on July 4, 1873, the Norwegian King Oscar II of Sweden visited this church with its 70 seats. He had brought along a marble plaque, it says in Norwegian and Sami: “Kong Oscar II heard Guds Ord her d. 4th of July 1873 “. (King Oscar II heard God’s Word here on July 4, 1873). In his honor, the church was now named as Kong Oskar II Kapell.
In the years 1883 and 1884, the Kong Oscar II Kapell got the distinctive white color, to be even better visible as a naval mark and as a border mark. But for the 100th anniversary of the Kong Oscar II Kapell removed the white color and put the church in its original form.
With the withdrawal of the German Wehrmacht also church silver from the Kong Oscar II Kapell disappeared.