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Further search for the identity of the Isdal woman (II) - Jugoslavijo, dobar dan 

Traces in the fog of one of the most mysterious murders in post-war history

The case of the Isdal woman becomes more exciting than it initially appeared, even after the newer investigations by the public prosecutor's office in Bergen in 2016. 

If you look at the case of the Isdal woman from the point of distance, it becomes clear that many documents from the police investigation from those days did not find their way to the Public Record Office in Bergen. These documents seem to have been withheld until today.

The reason is elementary; the purchasers of certain items would inevitably have to return them to their rightful owners. Other documents that were found in the suitcases of the unknown deceased, however, have already been published like the unfortunate matchbox from the Beate Uhse sex shop

Why documents disappeared is or was the case can certainly no longer be determined today. 

The Norwegian military intelligence service certainly did not cover itself with glory these days. 

The probability that the Isdal woman also had a stay in Hamburg is very high. The German goods could have come from the Kepa / Karstadt in Hamburg, which was within a stone's throw of the station at that time. In the assortment, the items were found at Isdal woman's luggage. Numerous prehistories and journalistic research can be found here. 




It is 50 years ago in fall that prosecutor Carl Halvor Aas took over the investigation on that misty November day in 1970.


An alleged suicide with 60 Fenemal pills in her stomach and carbon monoxide poisoning was ruled out. These tablets were not available in Norway. Even the investigators did not believe in suicide. 


Even after the fisherman's statement, one could have doubts about the completeness of the files. This statement is now in a different context. No espionage tools such as mini cameras etc. were found in the records of the unknown dead. Nevertheless, after meeting the two southern looking gentlemen on a forest path shortly before her death, which was observed by a witness, she was seen as a spy. The code she used in her diaries was simple and somewhat naive. Shoes and deodorant from Germany immediately pointed to a female spy. Besides, all signs had been removed from her clothes. 

The penguin missiles will not have played a role in this context. Even the later interrogated employee of the Israeli Mossad "Lillehammer Affair" did not know the name. Instead, the visit to the Hotel Bristol in Trondheim is more interesting - as Vera Jarle from Antwerp from November 6 to 8. Before that, she had stayed at the Hotel Neptun in Bergen from 30.10.1970 - 06.11.1970 under the name of Alexia Zarna-Merchez, born on 27.11.1943 in Ljubljana. 

According to the oxygen and strontium isotope analysis of the University of Canberra, the trail also led to the then internal border area between Serbia and Croatia. On an imaginary line between Užice and Sarajevo.   





The Isdal woman stated not only once that she was an antique dealer. This seems to be valid 50 years after the body was found in Isdal. The statement of the Italian photographer and the hotel report is available for this purpose. Apparently, she travelled again and again under false legends, but on several occasions, she also stated her profession as a decorator. She knew a lot about porcelain, the Italian photographer Giovanni Trimboli stated. Trimboli was a dubious figure who was said to have connections with the Mafia and smuggling, only long after his death it became public. Photographing him would only have been camouflage.

It was about art smuggling from the former Eastern Bloc

Border crossing point Helmstedt FRG/GDR 1969, kasaan media, 2020


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East Berlin had since Aktion Licht (Action Light) in 1962, in which all the safe-deposit boxes in banks that had not been used since the war were opened by employees of the Ministry of State Security who had not reported in after the war.

The currency gorge of the GDR needed money. This "Aktion Licht" brought in more than 4 million DM at that time. Among them were countless works of art that were smuggled all over the world.

Incredibly valuable pieces (paintings, jewellery, antiques, etc.) were thus handed over to their owners in the respective countries by couriers. Only in February 1973, the KuA GmbH (Kunst und Antiquitäten GmbH) was founded in East Berlin. This company continued to operate as a "seller" via the former Yugoslavia until well into the 1980s. Years ago, a trace had already been revealed to an artist who lived at that time in Norway and in the south of France. 


To a certain Kjell Varvin, to whom the trail of the Isdal woman now led, also in other contexts.





Riksarkivet (National Archives of Norway) from Oslo, Norway - Vidkun Quisling og hans kone Maria.


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Probably the henchmen had found clues to the legendary art treasure of Vidkun Quisling during "Operation Light" years earlier. Quisling, whose name today still stands for the greatest shame of Norway, was the governor of the Nazis in Norway and had built up a considerable art collection together with his Russian wife since the end of the 1930s, some of which disappeared in Eastern Germany after the war.


The Isdal woman - file number 134/70 (1)


(br/mcvth/Bergen/ Norway)


Death in the Isdal in Norway


Anyone who deals with what is by far the most mysterious criminal case in post-war European history must start on November 29,1970, in the Ulriken Bergen, in Isdalen. 


A father and his two daughters found the body of a woman on this Sunday afternoon, the first Advent of this year.


This case had all the ingredients of an espionage thriller, which could only have happened in the Cold War era. It made sense that Taxi nach Leipzig, the first crime scene in the ARD programme in Germany, was running that evening for the first time.


The Norwegian public prosecutor Carl Halvor Aas, then 30 years old, was on duty that day and found his own, quite real crime thriller with the case in a small valley, in a poorly accessible rocky gorge, in the area of Bergen in Norway.


The former prosecutor in charge recalled in an interview with NOK and the BBC, which was conducted many years later, that the smell of the charred body had particularly entered his nose before he even saw the body.


The area was picturesque. Between dense tree cover and mossy stones, at a safe distance from one of the paths, lay the half-carbonized body of the approximately 30-year-old and, as reconstructed later, quite a pretty woman. She had also already attracted attention during her short lifetime, as the rather slowed down police investigations revealed shortly afterwards. Braked by whomever, it was not clear and was not clarified.


It remained one of the many secrets in this case.


Even the place of discovery offered a criminally very confused picture. Burned rubber boots, which would later become a substantial lead in the case. A tube of phenobarbital sleeping pills, a packed lunch and an empty bottle of alcohol. Besides, two white plastic bottles, whose smell indicated gasoline, and a burnt passport. A purse? Wrong!


Allegedly the dead woman had succumbed to an overdose of sleeping pills and carbon monoxide poisoning associated with the fire. Soot was found in her lungs, although, according to instructions from above, suicide was indicated, it was almost impossible that the Jane Doe had committed suicide. A box of matches from the German sex shop operator Beate Uhse was found at the crime scene as a spicy detail. Later the matches were allegedly also found in one of the suitcases from the station.


Everything, in this case, was contradictory.


The horrible find, Statsarkivet-i-Bergen


A disturbing puzzle of possible entanglements resulted from the objects and later in the two suitcases from the lockers at the station with the luggage of the unknown woman. These traces did not lead to the identity of the unknown person, nor a motive, nor the perpetrator. The circumstances are also more than strange and therefore also lead to the most adventurous speculations, which entwine themselves like a spider's web around the more than 48-year-old case. The find is still one of the most sensational criminal cases in Norway today and has been riding journalists worldwide for decades.


Nothing is defined in this case.


Hours later witnesses came forward who were treated very unconventionally for a murder investigation. It was not until the beginning of the millennium that further testimonies on this subject were given, which took the attention. Witnesses who saw the dead woman with two southerners were just didn't taken down as a note by the Police. The witnesses were forbidden to talk at all about their observation. Who or what the southerners were, who the person who died a few days later knew, with whom she had a lively conversation, remained in the dark. The unknown woman stayed at the Hordaheimen Hotel in Bergen days before her death, from November 19 to 23. This stay under a false name, an alias or one of the many identities that a person had. Was one of the strangers, with whom the later deceased in a summer dress was talking, the Soviet military attaché in Norway, who was in Bergen at the same time?


Who was that woman?


If anyone recognizes the woman or thinks he or she knows her, can give any clues as to her identity, can say anything about the so-called Isdal woman, please contact the local police.


There's a memo with Interpol.


It became mysterious when several suitcases were found in an expired locker, and the contents could be connected to the dead woman. In the suitcases, props were found that could have come from a spy movie or just a crazy person. So fingerprints of the deceased were preserved on fake glasses. These matched the body found on November 29, 1970. 


On the crime scene, Statsarkivet-i-Bergen


Another curiosity in the whole behaviour of the dead was the constant changing of identities, the creation of tables with seemingly coded groups of numbers that made up a systematic code. Not every woman of about 30 years of age was able to create codes in this form at that time and why would she, when she was travelling through Europe, create such codes at all?


The labels had been removed from the clothes.


Why did the unknown travel through Europe for several months during her lifetime, giving different names?


Later, one of the investigators involved in the case credibly claimed that the Military Intelligence had searched the two suitcases found in the locker before the police. Whether this was the case, no one can say how everything in the case was and is "a maybe" or "possible". 


For quite some time it had been suspected that the Norwegian Military Intelligence Service was trying to suppress the proceedings. There were several reasons for this. During the Cold War, Norway was the country on whose coasts Soviet submarines operated. Besides, spies from the Eastern Bloc infiltrated the West via Norway.


But why would Counterintelligence protect a foreign agent? According to several parties involved in the proceedings, the police investigation was considerably obstructed.


Part 2 Does the trail lead to the HVA in East Berlin?


Further unsuccessful search for the identity of the Isdal woman (1)

  • Published in Crime

Incredible tracks

In times of fake news, we want to make our journal more transparent.


First of all, it is our research; we have the copyright on everything we present here. Two Norwegian female journalists from a BBC forum had protested against this, because the conspiracy theories, which in this case of the Isdal woman are circulating everywhere, were more important to them than reality, which probably looks much more modest than the conspiracy theorists imagine. We have read the most absurd stories in forums.

We cannot understand why the BBC was looking in Belgium. The editors will have had their reasons to search in Belgium with colleagues from the NOK for documentation.

The Isdal woman is one of our hobbies, and usually, we only report on our successes, but when we have made a step forward, a new article is published. This time, although we only found "dead ends" in our rather extensive research. We had 40 theories about who the Isdal woman might have been, which we will present in the next articles.

We are not working on this fascinating reportage because we think that the perpetrator or perpetrators should be punished. Only the judiciary is entitled to demand this.

In Norway, the statute of limitations is extended.

We believe that every person has the right to have a name on their gravestone. It has to do with human dignity. Also, the mystery of the Isdal woman is one of the most compelling criminal cases ever revealed.

This time we want to list the individual work steps that did not get us anywhere. There are three of us, sometimes four of us, on the ball.

Already at the end of 2017, we slowly began to research the identity of the Isdal woman.

Later we learned from the isotope analysis from 2017 and the resulting

Conclusions that the Isdal woman must have been in the border area between France and Germany before her death. The isotope analysis showed that she must have been in the space between Pirmasens and Bitche, the former fortress town, in France. At least that is what the diagram of the university in Canberra showed, which carried out the isotope analysis.






But we were surprised that no one missed the Isdal woman. Publicly accessible missing-persons files led nowhere. The woman must, therefore, have come from abroad, even though she must have lived in Nuremberg during her childhood.


So the trail led us to Bitche in Lorraine. We were more interested in establishing the identity of the woman. Very close by was Pirmasens, at that time, in 1970, the German shoe production mecca, where many Yugoslavian guest workers travelled. It could be true because surely such a guest worker could not be reported missing. Perhaps she had also come with her parents to Germany. Or because it was cheaper to live in those days into France. The analysis also referred to Serbia, so the possibility was not far-fetched.




Bitche in Lorraine, kasaan media, 2018

After the hype caused by the BBC series 2014 the interest in the probably most mysterious murder case of Norway decreased quickly.

Many private people are still speculating, here and there an article appears about the mysterious woman, who is called Isdalskvinnen in Norwegian.

What we know is little. What goes beyond the known facts: Certainly, the woman did not set herself on fire. With a large hematoma in the neck, a rather complicated task. It was no longer possible with the tablets taken.


The Fenemal (phenobarbital) brand of sleeping tablets probably originated in the United Kingdom, as the pharmaceuticals were not marketed in Norway at the time. It is also not possible that she took the pills voluntarily. This issue was already established by the then investigators in the matter, as well by the investigating prosecutor Carl Halvor Aas. The police investigator, after later information from his he was severely handicapped in his work. Although the investigation wasn't finished yet, he was supposed to write a final report. The research was systematically obstructed by whomever, allegedly in this case the Norwegian military intelligence.

As with the suitcases, which the military intelligence service had already searched, when the ordinary police were still investigating for evidence at the place where the strange woman was found. Or the story of the boots that led two investigating authorities, independently of each other, to Rolf Rørtvedt's father's shoe shop in Stavanger.


What did the Norwegian secret service know about this woman, apart from posthumous interpretations? How was the military research in Bergen spied out at the time? The meeting between the Palestinians in Oslo was a possible motive. Possible Mossad operatives, who should then have selected targets.


Yes, and who travels through Europe under so many false names: Claudia Tielt, Vera Jarle, Elisabeth Leenhouwer, Geneviève Lancier, Claudia Nielsen, Alexia Zarna-Merchez: the passports are said to have poorly been forged. Alexia Zarna-Merchez supposedly came from Laibach in former Yugoslavia. At that time, people in Norway believed so.




We turned to the found matchbox of the Beate Uhse Versand.  

There were thousands of packages in the days, everywhere, even at railway stations, in the then DSG (Deutsche Schlafwagen- und Speisewagengesellschaft) restaurants. She could have taken the box with her at any place on her journey. Even on the train, she could still have acquired these matches. In the bar. It only proved that she had the box, and that proved nothing. With Beate Uhse Versand, there was also the slight possibility, which was purely hypothetical, that she had had a package sent to her by Beate Uhse to a German address. We rejected the idea because we had no other point of reference to her permanent residence in Germany. Beate Uhse Versand would also have no more records of possible delivery. It's just been too long and where should you look for the delivery address? And the deceased had nothing else of Beate Uhse with her, according to the list of evidence, which the Norwegian police made after finding the suitcases in the station. More on this in a later article.

Strangely enough, some of the evidence in the suitcase from the Isdal woman was already missing. As well as her bizarre behaviour in the last hotel, where she moved furniture and asked for another room. The systematic Caesar code with which she described her travels was surprising, but even that would not have been the task of an agent alone, which was attributed to her based on the many false passports. Also, all the labels in her luggage were missing.

But with the help of many small clues, the trail led us into the former Yugoslavia. To Maribor, to be precise. Because Tito was not an orphan boy, as one generally assumes today. There were murder squads, also in connection with dissidents from Yugoslavia in the Federal Republic, and numerous murders. Tito sent a murder squad to Munich as early as 1968 when three exiled Croats were hit.


Maribor 2019, dram/mcvth, kasaan media, 2019

Even in 1968, there was a report about an extremely mysterious murder in the Yugoslavia Express, which probably also belonged to the deeds of the Yugoslavian perpetrators and could never be solved.



Next part: The track leads to Maribor

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