During the Second World War, the Nazis established around 500 prison camps in Norway. Six camps were mainly intended for Norwegian political prisoners. Falstad Prison Camp was among them. The camps in Norway were part of a network of German concentration camps that spread across large parts of occupied Europe.
Around 150,000 Norwegian and non-Norwegian nationals were imprisoned in Norway during the Second World War. A majority of the prisoners were PoWs and forced labourers from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Poland. The prisoners were used as forced labour in the construction of «Festung Norwegen» («Fortress Norway»), and thus compensated for lack of manpower from other sources. Forced labour or slave labour characterised the prisoners’ lives in the camps.
Most of the Norwegian political prisoners were placed in the camps Grini (near Oslo), Falstad (in Central Norway) and Ulven/Espeland (near Bergen).
The Nazi camp system was gradually introduced to occupied countries and areas. The prison camps in Norway were directly connected to the concentration camps on the Continent. Many Norwegians were detainees at Falstad before being deported to camps such as Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
During the Second World War, more than 40,000 camps were established across Europe. The network of camps is the most extreme expression of the Nazi terror regime. The aim was to control the inhabitants. The lives of the prisoners were characterised by violence, torture and death.