The German Security Police established SS-Strafgefangenenlager Falstad as a prison camp for political prisoners in the autumn of 1941. Falstad functioned as a labour camp, a transit camp and a death camp.
The German occupation force seized the property of Falstad Reformative School at Ekne in October 1941. The occupation force established the prison camp in the brick building that had been the pupils’ home since the 1920s. In the autumn of 1943, the camp was extended to include two prison barracks. The boundaries of the camp area was fenced off with barbed wire. Using prisoners as labour, the camp leadership built a commander’s house outside the camp area. It was completed in 1944.
During the Second World War, prisoners from more than 15 nations were incarcerated at Falstad. Until liberation in May 1945, over 4, 200 individuals were imprisoned at Falstad. The exact number of prisoners is not known. The majority of the prisoners were Norwegian nationals suspected or convicted of political resistance. 50 of the Norwegian prisoners were Jews from Central and Northern Norway. Most of the foreign nationals came from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Denmark and Poland.
From 1942 the camp had its own women’s section, run by female prison guards. The women were isolated in a separate section of the attic. 215 women were incarcerated in the Falstad Prison Camp from 1942–1945.
The camp was under the command of the German Security Police in Trondheim, headed by Obersturmbahnführer Gerhard Flesch. All the prisoners were at the mercy of the Security Police and its decisions. The camp leadership was loyal to the specific SS task, namely «to exterminate any real or possible opposition to the National Socialistic authorities».
The period between the spring of 1942 and the autumn of 1943 is considered the most brutal time in the history of the Falstad Prison Camp: the prisoners were subjected to a haphazard and extremely violent regime. Prisoners were forced to work at high speed as slave labourers on pointless projects. This is also the period when executions took place in the Falstad Forest.