‘We were like family’: how Covid strained bonds between Nordic neighbours
After Norway reintroduced a hard border with Sweden, a new nationalism began to replace the easy alliance of centuries
Thorild Tollefsbøl was born in Norway but has lived in Sweden, with the border in her back yard, for more than 70 years. She could hardly believe her ears when, while out for her daily walk in the woods near the small farm town of Lersjön one day last spring, she encountered a uniformed soldier from the Norwegian Home Guard who told her to turn around and walk back to the Swedish side. “We never really gave much thought to the fact that some houses were on the other side,” Tollefsbøl said of pre-Covid times.
Europe’s longest land border is the one that divides Norway and Sweden. For the most part, it is marked by little more than a 10-metre clearing in the woods and the occasional roadside welcome sign, accompanied by mostly unmanned customs stations – reminders that when you drive into Norway you are leaving the EU.