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Can the mystery of the Isdal woman be solved in history of the former Hotel Regina in Geneva ?

Many more clues to the most mysterious murder case in post-war history

 

There are new findings about the Isdal woman, who was found dead around Bergen / Norway in November 1970.  But also only fragments in a large mosaic that the beautiful unknown woman left behind. 

 

Already in 2019, Le Républicain Lorrain in Forbach / France wrote about the mysterious acquaintance of a man from the Grand Est in the weeks of summer 1970.

 

The two spoke almost exclusively about painting and art. She had a "Balkan accent" but spoke German, French and Dutch, as Le Républicain Lorrain reported. The unidentified person, who served as an informant for the regional newspaper in Lorrain, said: "She (the alleged Isdal woman) said she had several documents and passports that allowed her to cross the Berlin Wall and travel to the GDR without any problems."

 

Overall, the statement in the French source is astonishing. It is perfectly aligned with the events that then took place. Allegedly, she had quite a few passports and wigs in the luggage collected from friends in the Wiesberg district of Forbach, where she also spent the nights. Also, clothes, which certainly did not come from a poor woman from the Balkans.

 

But where were the objects, documents, when the CID in Bergen found the suitcases in a locker at the local railway station after the death of the Isdal woman in early December 1970?

 

Riddle after riddle.

 

Why should this woman, who was sitting high on a horse in a lumberjack shirt and corduroy trousers, now suddenly be lying dead in Isdal/Norway? And this after she had met two unknown men, probably Yugoslavs, two days before her demise.

 

 

Just another clue in the puzzle: Did the Isdal woman's death journey already began in Geneva?

 

The trail of the Isdal woman leads not only to Lorraine, not far from the German border, but also to Geneva.

 

To the then luxury Hotel Regina at the Quai du Mont Blanc, owned by Émile Kähr and subsequently by his sons.  There, where Tito's and Ulbricht's foreign currency procurers hung out. Here, in the midst of Geneva's art scene, within a stone's throw of Geneva's galleries, the connoisseurs of old masters met, and not only them. 

In the diaries of the Isdal woman, a remark was found that she stood at the Hotel Regina in Geneva. After decryption of the code she used in her papers, it was revealed she stood at the Hotel Regina on the Quai du Mont Blanc in Geneva from the March 16th to March 19th, 1970.

But the Hotel Regina in Geneva, in the years a well-known spot for East-West contacts, also had an eventful history, as one can read in the Journal de Genève. Mysterious events took place: for example, documented in the issue of September 22, 1959. The French-language article can be found here.

 

We have because this act is so exceptional in the borough, translated the article.

 

"Towards the end of last night, two unknown persons presented themselves to the porter of the Hotel Regina, 7 quai du Mont-Blanc. Mr. Alois Arnold, 78 years old, 20 avenue Jacques-Martin in Chêne-Bougenes, who was just finishing his deputy duties, the incumbent being on leave at the time.  By one of the strangers, who had taken out a percussion instrument from a red leather bag, (the man) was hit on the head. Mr Arnold collapsed while the second assailant held him down and grabbed him by the throat. Meanwhile, the first robber had gone behind the counter, blown up the cash drawer (!) and taken more than nine thousand francs (worth about 4456 euros at the time).

When there was a noise, the two attackers made their way towards the salons and jumped through a ground floor window onto the Square du Mont Blanc. Mr Arnold soon regained his senses. The septuagenarian, who was very alert despite his age, managed to call the police by phone. The police rushed to the scene and began a search, which, however, proved fruitless. In fact, the clues about the unknown persons are rather vague: height 160 cm, rather thin, age between twenty and thirty, complexion and hair dark, language with a southern accent, light-coloured clothes, unkempt appearance.

Mr Arnold, who had lost a considerable amount of blood, was taken to the polyclinic and then to the Cantonal Hospital, where doctors found a deep wound on his head - but he had not suffered a fractured skull - and traces of strangulation on his neck. He will have to stay in the cantonal hospital for a week.

Only a while ago, the night porter of the Hotel de la Paix narrowly escaped some people who, after breaking open a window, tried to attack him."

It is surprising that this attack happened around eight o'clock. The perpetrators were also looking for something else. Unfortunately, the whole eventful history of the Hotel Regina cannot be told in one article, but it was wild. Another article shows the usual "business" in those days. 

"Yesterday, late in the morning, the Pioneers of the Permanent Standby went to the Hotel Regina, Quai du Mont-Blanc 7, where a fire had broken out between the floor and the ceiling. The fire brigade had to carry out demolition work to reach the scene of the accident.

This was due to an accidental cause. It actually appears that a cigarette, which was undoubtedly extinguished, fell into a small hole in the toilet, releasing smoke that necessitated the fire brigade's intervention."

 

Just a side note in this matter is that the Bristol Hotel at Krambugata 3, in Trondheim, where the Isdal woman was staying, burned to the ground in 1976. Until now, it is not clear how the fire started.

 

Hotell Bristol brenner (1976)

 

Hotell Bristol brenner (1976)

 

 

In the 1950s and 1960s, for example, the annual writers' event was held in this fashionable setting in Geneva. The Isdal woman, obsessed with art, blended in perfectly with the surroundings. But, the star of the Hotel Regina was sinking, numerous tenants and changes of ownership led to the dissolution of the house in 1974.

 

What is today the Hotel de la Paix on the elegant shores of Lake Geneva, was in 1970 the Hotel Regina. No less distinguished.

The beautiful unknown must have resided there. At least she had a sewing kit from this house in the evidence of suitcases found in a locker at Bergen station days after her demise.

At the time, this sewing kit was laid out in the rooms of the posh hostel on Lake Geneva, along with a bar of soap and a Bible. Unfortunately, there are no more sign-in sheets from those days.

 

The question remained, why did they, who had otherwise removed everything from the suitcases that indicated the identity of the dead, leave just the sewing kit in the suitcase? It was like the Norwegian Military Intelligence Service's obfuscation against the Bergen police. Cases from the bottom drawer were dragged in.

 

The traces seem to have been deliberately removed to obfuscate the real reason, the art smuggling.

 

But what is stopping Norway's military intelligence service, 50 (!) after the woman was found, from handing over the documents that were seized in the suitcases at the time?

 

This secret must be far more important than obsolete AGM-119 Penguin anti-ship missiles, which were used as a grateful excuse at the time and led to strangely scattered rumours.

 

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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. 

 

 

PHOTO: POLITIET / STATSARKIVET I BERGEN

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.   

 

 

PHOTO: KART FRA PROF. JURIAN HOOGEWERFF/NATIONAL CENTRE FORENSIC STUDIES/UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA 

 

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.

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