Berlevåg (Northern Sami: Bearlaváhki, Kven: Päärlyvooki) is a
municipality located on the northwestern part of the Varanger
Peninsula in Finnmark. The municipality borders Tana in the south
and Båtsfjord in the east, and meets Vadsø at one point in the
Most of the settlement in the municipality is concentrated in the fishing port and the municipal center Berlevåg and in the fishing village Kongsfjord. The settlement Berlevåg has 909 inhabitants as of 1 January 2020 and is the northernmost settlement on the mainland in Norway.
The most important industries are fishing, fish processing, trade, as well as public and private services.
The place is called by Hurtigruten. Berlevåg Airport has daily departures to Hammerfest and Tromsø, as well as Vadsø and Kirkenes.
Municipal coat of arms
The municipal coat of arms (also called landscape coat of arms) was approved in 1988 and has a division of gold and blue by flame cutting. This will symbolize the municipality's dependence on the sea. The motif itself shows the sea and waves towards the beach. The five waves will symbolize the five places that at different times have had permanent settlements within the municipality. These places are Berlevåg, Kongsfjord, Gulgo, Kvitnes and Store Molvik.
In the municipality, there are two rivers that carry salmon. Storelva is located in Berlevåg and mainly has sea urchins. Kongsfjordelva has a 12 km salmon-carrying stretch and also has an upswing of sea trout. The river is leased by Berlevåg Jeger and Fiskeforening.
Berlevåg became its own municipality in 1914, when it was separated from Tana.
From 1913 to 1975, four jetties were built to protect the harbor from the waves from the North Sea. After a major storm in 1959 that destroyed half of the Svartoksen pier, tetrapods were used as an outer cover on the two outermost long piers.
During World War II, a German coastal battery was built in Berlevåg. The battery, Heeres Küsten Batterie Berlevaag 3/480, was set up with five 14.5 cm cannons with a firing range of 19,000 m, in May 1942.
When the Germans withdrew at the end of World War II (from September 1944 to February 1945), they used the scorched earth tactics and all buildings in Berlevåg were burned down.
The scorched earth tactic
When it became clear to the Germans that the Red Army was on its way to Norway, they initiated a forced evacuation of the inhabitants and used burnt earth tactics. Berlevåg was the first place in Finnmark where the Germans used this tactic and thus they took a very good time and did a thorough job. After the burning, very few buildings remained. Virtually everything that existed of houses, barns and barns, fish farms, quays and other buildings were set on fire by Germans in retreat.
The forced evacuation led to many Berlevågings being sent away from Berlevåg by boat, but there were many who managed to escape and stay hidden from the Germans. After the burning was a fact and the Germans had left, most came out of their caves and other hiding places in Storelvdalen, among other places. The sight that met them was cruel, burnt down ruins and hardly a single place they could seek refuge. An alternative many used was to turn boats, which had not been burned, upside down and use these as a temporary crawl space.