XU, which stood for ‘unknown undercover agent’, was originally organised by leaders with military backgrounds, but it would increasingly recruit students from the University of Oslo, as well as those in the police, railroads and other key institutions across the country. Its intelligence gathering was so effective that it could number 500 sheets of A4 every day, aiding not only the Norwegian resistance but the Allied forces.
Østvedt took on the role of XU Deputy Commander following the murder of Arvid Storsveen at the hands of the Gestapo in April 1943. Østvedt’s commitment was unflinching; after the Gestapo started hunting her in late 1942, she stayed in Norway under a new identity, breaking all personal ties save for her resistance connections, for two-and-half years.
The Gestapo came extremely close to finding her - a multi-city manhunt of 45 officers even blocked all the entrances to her home. At one point during this period of extreme separation, her father, not noticing her, stood next to her in a tram carriage, yet she did not reveal her identity.
Astonishingly surviving the war, she travelled to America to study for a Master’s degree in food chemistry. In her application to the American Association of University Women, Østvedt wrote “After five years of complete isolation and undernourishment ... it is of great importance for [Norway] to try to rebuild the health of the nation on a sound scientific basis.” She returned to Norway in 1951 and lived there until her death in 2009.