Until the outbreak of the Second World War, Milly Elise Borsum, generally known, as ‘Lise’ was just the wife of wealthy Norwegian doctor Ragnar Borsum. But the German invasion expanded her life in a way she could never have imagined. In 1942, Lise and her husband became an active part of a network that smuggled Jews out of the Nazi-occupied Norway to the safety of Sweden.
The wealthy and influential Borsums used their home as a base for the network, often using piano concerts as a cover for their activities. But in 1943, both were arrested. Ragnar Borsum managed to escape. But Lise was held in prison for a year before being shipped off to Germany and Ravensbruck Concentration camp.
The Swedish Red Cross liberated Lise in 1945. But she had changed and could not settle back into her old life of domesticity. In 1949, she and Ragnar divorced, divided by their wartime experiences. But by this time, Lise had already established herself as a writer and activist.
She began to write about her experiences in the camps. “Prisoner in Ravensbruck” was published in 1946, followed by “Reflections” in 1947. Lise served on the National Council Fund to help victims of the war. She was also part of a commission to root out and destroy concentration camps across the globe. In 1951, she highlighted their continuation by publishing another book, this time on Soviet camps. She continued her work until her death in 1985.