In 1970 the corpse of a woman was found near Bergen, Norway. The real identity of this woman and the cause of her death are still not clear to date. In her car police found encrypted notes. According to Norwegian media, new evidence has now been discovered.

The Isdal Woman was a woman found dead at Isdalen Valley, Norway, on November 29, 1970. She has never been identified. The Isdal Woman died from a combination of burns and carbon monoxide poisoning, and an autopsy showed traces of at least 50 sleeping pills in her body. The cause of death might have been suicide, but murder is an option, too. The woman was described as 30-40 years old and good-looking.

Isdal-Woman-2              Isdal-Woman-3

Police found out that the Isdal Woman had travelled around Europe with nine different false identities. She was traced to two suitcases found in a train station in nearby Bergen, Norway. The labels had been removed from the clothes she wore, her fingerprints had been sanded away. In one of the suitcases police discovered 500 Deutsche Mark. Witnesses reported that the Isdal Woman had spoken French, German, English and Dutch. One person testified that she had said “Ich komme bald”, which means “I am coming soon” in German.


The cryptic diary entry

In the trunk of the Isdal Woman’s car police found several cryptic diary entries. These cryptograms are the reason why the Isdal Woman is covered on this blog.

I covered the Isdal Woman in two blog posts in 2015. At first, I didn’t have much information about the cryptic diary entries, but after the first blog post Tore Osland, the author of a book about the Isdal Woman, sent me a transcription. I used it to make the following sketch:


As many readers will have noticed, the case of the Isdal woman resembles the one of the Somerton Man. The Somerton Man, a man found dead in Australia in 1948, has never been identified, either. Like the Isdal Woman, he had owned a cryptic note until soon before his death. However, while the Somerton Man cryptogram has never been broken, the notes of the Isdal Woman were solved. As it turned out, they were coded dates and places the woman had previously visited.

A few days ago, blog reader Bjarne sent me a link to a scan of the diary page mentioned above. This is how it really looks like (a little different from my self-made sketch):


In his book, Tore Osland gives the following explanation: B stands for Bergen, S for Stavanger, O for Oslo, L for London, R for Rome and P for Paris. M stands for March, A for April. I don’t know what N, T and G mean.

I wonder whether this diary page is the only one with cryptic content. If you know of other pages, please tell me.

Here is another picture I found on a website about the Isdal Woman:


This looks like somebody has photoshopped my sketch onto the photograph of a diary! What an honor for me!


New evidence?

A few days ago, reader Bjarne told me, that new investigations about the Isdal Woman have been started. In fact, I found two recent publications about the Isdal Woman via Google news. Both are in Norwegian:

As far as I understand, there will be a new TV documentary about the Isdal Woman. If somebody can tell me more about the new evidence and about the content of this TV documentary, I would be very interested.

Further reading:

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Kommentare (29)

  1. #1 Klaus Schmeh
    24. Oktober 2016

    Bart Wenmeckers via Facebook:
    Indeed alot of similarities to the somerton case.

  2. #2 Alter Fritz
    24. Oktober 2016

    Hier ist der Trailer:
    Der erste Teil ist offenbar am 21. Okotber gesendet worden. Vielleicht findet man es in irgendeiner Mediathek. Mein Norwegisch ist leider sehr unterentwickelt. 😉

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    25. Oktober 2016

    Alter Fritz hat noch zwei ziemlich ausführliche Seiten gefunden, die ziemlich aktuell die Geschichte aufrollen:—gaten-i-isdalen-1.13180269

  4. #4 Thomas
    25. Oktober 2016

    It is remarkable that somebody who pretends to be born in Yugoslavia and to be of belgian nationality fills in the — norwegian – registration form ( in German: “belgisch”, “Verziererin”, “Brüssel Kreisleitung”, “Handelsverkehr”. Why is the passport issuing authority in Brussels named as “Brüssel Kreisleitung” (German instead of French or Flamish)? Is that an indication of german mother tongue?

  5. #5 Alter Fritz
    25. Oktober 2016

    Yes, Thomas, that is exactly my impression of those documents. Yesterday, I saw a similar document (can’t refind it at this moment) in English claiming “belgish” rather than “Belgian” as nationality. This also gives strong evidence of a German background.

  6. #6 tomtoo
    25. Oktober 2016

    What i dont get in this case is a body was found with barbiturates and CO in the blood.
    strongly burned. And you investgators can come to the conglusion its a suicide ???
    How should this work ?
    You take a lettal dose of barbiturates than you start a fire on yourself ? Why yoy
    u should do this ?
    Maybe my english is not good enough, but i dont get this ?
    And sanding of fingertips was done before death ?

  7. #7 Thomas
    25. Oktober 2016

    Just stumbled over a spy-story in the german magazin “Der Spiegel” of 1997 and another article (
    In March 1970 the Stasi (secret service of the GDR) sent a certain Aud Rigmor Graefe, allegedly of norwegian nationality, to Cologne to marry another spy, shortly afterwards her traces lost in Brussels. Her further fate seems to be unknown. This woman had been given the identity of another woman who had been born 1941 in Norway as a daughter of a german soldier and a Norwegian woman and was brought by the Nazis, as many other occupation children (tyskerbarn), to a fosterhome in Saxonia. In the 1960s the Stasi misused the biography of some of these now adult children to cover the identities of spies in Norway. The real Aud Rigmor now lives in Norway (and allegedly has a photo of the woman who was given her identity,

  8. #8 tomtoo
    25. Oktober 2016

    Porree-Milk soup is more like ” schlesien” maybe east germany.
    And 500 West german “Mark” east german spy often got outfitted with “Mark”. In 1970 in the middle of coldwar.

  9. #9 Thomas
    25. Oktober 2016

    An earlier registration form of 25 March 1970 (“Claudia Tielt”) – my post # 4 refers to a form of October 1970 – also shows entries in German (“Antiquitätenhändlerin”, “Fremdenverkehr”) and a residence in Brussels. Moreover the passport authority was entered as “Kreisleitung Brüssel”. After 1945 a “Kreisleitung” existed only in the GDR, but not in Brussels. The entries didn’t fit together, but apparently they weren’t thoroughly checked by the norwegian hotels. However there seems to have been a special connection to Brussels.

  10. #10 tomtoo
    25. Oktober 2016

    Can’t believe that “stasi” would make such a mistake in a passport.

  11. #11 Thomas
    25. Oktober 2016

    Certainly not – but we don’ t have copies of passports, only of hotel registration forms with strange entries. According to the wiki article passports haven’t been found.

  12. #12 tomtoo
    27. Oktober 2016

    Sry dont know what i was thinking about.
    This case is realy strange.
    There is information about blunt force,barbiturates,alcohol,burnings,carbonmonoxide in blood in one death.Thats a lot for suicide.

  13. #13 Thomas
    2. November 2016

    Es ist jetzt gelungen, aus noch vorhandenen Gewebeproben die DNA zu isolieren. Man will über internationale Datenbanken (u.a. Interpol) eine Identifizierung versuchen. Weiter soll an den Zähnen eine Isotopenuntersuchung vorgenommen werden, um die geographische Herkunft einzugrenzen.

  14. #14 Abo
    9. November 2016


  15. #15 Thomas
    29. November 2016

    The NRK provides the website also in English:

  16. #16 Jennifer
    21. März 2017

    @Thomas It’s interesting you mentioned the case of an Eastern bloc spy assuming the identity of Aud Rigmore. Currently there is a vivid discussion on about the question if this impostor of “Aud Rigmore” (who seems to have been a KGB agent called “Natasha”) might be identical with the Isdal woman. If you compare the foto of Natasha / Aud Rigmore, shown in the Spiegel article you have linked above, astonishing similarities to the photofits of the Isdal women can be discovered – especially when compared to the newer photofits of 2016. Interestingly the Isdal woman turned up in Brussels when Natasha / Aud Rigmore disappeared in the same city at the same time. There are of course a few arguments to the contrary; still this might prove to be a very interesting clue. I hope my comment was of any help / interest to you.

  17. #17 Thomas
    21. März 2017

    Thanks for your hint on the Isdal thread in the allmystery blog (which – including the Aud Rigmor case – is already well known to me ;-)).
    The German thread provides more details

  18. #18 Ivan
    13. Mai 2017

    Another similarity with the mystery of the Isdal Woman case is that the clothing labels were removed as was with the Somerton Man in Australia.

  19. #19 Ben Salfield
    United Kingdom
    14. Mai 2017

    An interesting and well-written blog.

    If I may point out one glaring error, in the coded entries, the letter ‘O’ is certainly not ‘Oslo’ but ‘October’. For example:

    O22 O28 P O29 PS means

    October 22-28, Paris;
    October 29, Paris to Stavanger.

  20. #20 Santino Pani
    10. April 2018

    Hi, I came to the same point, the resemblamce of Isdal woman with Somerton Man.
    About the Isdal woman, they say they have decrypted the code, which I also read about that.
    But I am wondering if this code is instead also the same Tamam Shud code used with Somerton man.
    I believe indeed that the Isdal woman was an Israelian spy (as Norway was plenty of those Mossad spies, and in 1974 emerged an important Mossad scandal in the same country).
    I wonder if somebody tried to decriot it with this code.

  21. #21 Santino Pani
    10. April 2018

    Ivan, yes I noticed the same.

  22. #22 kevin fletcher
    16. Januar 2019

    Re Ivans point about similarities between isdal woman and somerton man,i dont think too much weight should be placed on the removal of cloths tags for the following reason,
    Post war Australia had a shortage of new clothing available and consequently it was standard practice to remove tags from used clothing .This does not negate any other similarities.

  23. #23 Vinner
    22. Juni 2019

    jennifer fergate – Peter Bergmann – isdal Woman – Tamam Shud.

    – No tags/brands in there clothing.
    – No identity.
    – Mysterious deaths.
    – All looked well dressed and groomed.
    – Luggage or/and links to hotels.
    – Messaging as in: phone calls, letters or notes.
    – Both in the Fergate and Bergmann case weird behavior was shown

  24. #24 Lawrence Alexander
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    3. Dezember 2021

    The interesting thing about the coded note is that it’s an example not of encryption but of compression. It’s almost all information, with little redundancy and arguably no character wastage.

    This makes it unusually structured and condensed for a handwritten aide memoire, which led me to consider whether it had been (or was intended to be) conveyed via a communication system of limited bandwidth or character length. However, this is pure conjecture.

    There is still much debate about the bottom-left portion. It appears to “frame” the Isdal woman’s known activities from beginning to end, mirroring the 10M at the top, to the date she was last seen alive, 23N. I did wonder whether, in the context of a transmitted message, this was actually error detection framing the very start and very end of the message (like metadata), with the end portion for some reason missing. But that, again, is speculation and quite unlikely.

    Some believe MM refers to “memento mori.” But considering that the Isdal woman previously uses J to represent June then JJ for July, I think it simply distinguishes another word beginning with “m” from the previous “10M” (March).

    On that topic, it’s interesting that she uses JJ instead of, say, JY or JT. She could perhaps be trying to avoid linkage with French, German or English language, or (as others have mentioned) it could refer to the Slovenian “julij”. Given her apparent knowledge of the Slovenian “žarne” to accompany her Ljubljana persona, a connection to that country is certainly possible.

  25. #25 Klaus Schmeh
    3. Dezember 2021

    @Lawrence Alexander:
    >There is still much debate about the bottom-left portion.
    Thanks for letting me know. Perhaps I can write a blog post about the part that is still unsolved.

  26. #26 Lawrence Alexander
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    4. Dezember 2021

    @Klaus Schmeh:
    It would be excellent if you could write a follow-up post. Your previous writings on the Isdal woman are fascinating, and I think it would be very beneficial to further raise the profile of the case within Germany.

    My rationale being that, as you point out in your later post, there are strong indicators of a German-language background for the Isdal woman. One additional thing I noticed is that “Schlosseneck” is textually similar not only to the German names Schluseneck and Schlosneck and the more Austrian Schluschanek, but also to Schloss Schöneck in Rhineland-Palatinate (such that the name could be a “play on words” in reference to that building).

    It’s around 34km from Bingen, which other researchers have suggested may have had significance for the lady. Taking that, the isotope maps and some of her suitcase contents into account, a lot of lines do converge on Germany.

  27. #27 Klaus Schmeh
    4. Dezember 2021

    >It would be excellent if you could
    >write a follow-up post.
    I’m considering to write one.
    Do you know a source that provides a complete explanation of the code?

  28. #28 Lawrence Alexander
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    5. Dezember 2021

    The main references are:

    There is still ambiguity over some of the location abbreviations used in the upper columns (particularly “H”). However, the isolated bottom left portion is the only part for which the entire purpose remains unknown.

  29. #29 Klaus Schmeh
    6. Dezember 2021

    @Lawrence Alexander:
    Thanks, I will write another blog post about this story.