Josef Terboven

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Terboven (seated 2nd from right) with Quisling, Himmler and von Falkenhorst. Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Moebius-029-12, Norwegen, Besuch Himmler, Terboven und Quisling.jpg
Terboven (seated 2nd from right) with Quisling, Himmler and von Falkenhorst.

Terboven was named Reichskommissar for Norway on 24 April 1940 even before the military invasion's completion on 10 June. He moved into Skaugum, the official residence of Crown Prince Olav, in September 1940 and made his headquarters in the Norwegian Parliament building. Nothing in Terboven's background and training particularly qualified him for that post, but he had Hitler's full confidence. He was responsible to no one but Hitler, and within the Nazi governmental hierarchy, his office stood on the same level as the Reich Ministries. Terboven regarded himself as virtually an autonomous viceroy with what he termed “limitless power of command”. His conception of his role resulted in his attempting to ignore any directives not issued by Hitler himself. [7]

Reichskommissar Terboven had supervisory authority over only the German civilian administration, which was very small and did not rule Norway directly. Day-to-day governmental affairs were managed by the existing seven-member Norwegian Administrative Council, which had been set up by the Norwegian Supreme Court after the king and cabinet fled into exile. On 25 September 1940, Terboven dismissed the Administrative Council and appointed a thirteen-member Provisional State Council to administer affairs. All the members were Terboven's hand-picked appointees and worked under his control and supervision. A proclamation was issued deposing King Haakon VII, outlawing the government-in-exile, disbanding the Storting and banning all political parties except Vidkun Quisling’s Nasjonal Samling. [8] Terboven therefore remained in ultimate charge of Norway until the end of the war in 1945, even after he had permitted the formation of a Norwegian puppet regime on 1 February 1942 under Quisling as minister-president, the so-called Quisling government. [9]

Terboven also did not have authority over the 400,000 regular German Army forces that were stationed in Norway which were under the command of Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, but he commanded a personal force of around 6,000 men of whom 800 were part of the secret police. In contrast to the military forces commanded by Falkenhorst, which aimed to reach an understanding with the Norwegian people and were under orders by Falkenhorst to treat Norwegians with courtesy, Terboven behaved in a petty and ruthless way and was widely disliked not only by the Norwegians but also by many Germans. Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, expressed annoyance in his disques about what he called Terboven's "bullying tactics" against the Norwegians, as they alienated the population against the Germans. Terboven's relations with the army commander were strained, but his relations with the Higher SS and Police Leader, Wilhelm Rediess, were very good, and he co-operated in providing Rediess's staff a free hand with their policies of repression. [10]

Repression and crimes against humanity

Terboven established multiple concentration camps in Norway, including Falstad concentration camp near Levanger and Bredtvet concentration camp in Oslo in late 1941. At one of those camps on 18 July 1942 the Beisfjord massacre took place, the murder of hundreds of Yugoslavian political prisoners and prisoners-of-war by German and Norwegian concentration camp guards. Some 288 prisoners were shot to death, and many others were burned to death when the barracks were set on fire. Terboven had ordered the massacre a few days earlier. In July 1942, at least one German guard assigned to the Korgen prison camp was killed. The commandant ordered retribution: execution by gunfire for "39 prisoners at Korgen and 20 at Osen";. In the days that followed, Terboven also ordered retribution, and around 400 prisoners shot and killed in various camps. [11]

From 1941, Terboven increasingly focused on crushing the Norwegian resistance movement, which engaged in acts of sabotage and assassination against the Germans. On 17 September, Terboven decreed that special SS and Police Tribunals would have jurisdiction over Norwegian citizens who violated his decrees. They were summary proceedings with the accused provided no adequate defense. The trials were not open to the public, and the proceedings were not published. Sentences were carried out shortly after they were pronounced with no right of appeal. It is estimated that some 150 individuals were sentenced to death by these tribunals. Many more were sentenced to long terms of hard labour. [12]

On 26 April 1942, the Nazis learned that two members of the resistance were being sheltered by the inhabitants of Telavåg, a small fishing village. When the Gestapo arrived, shots were exchanged, and two Gestapo agents were killed. Terboven was outraged and personally led a reprisal raid on 30 April that was quick and brutal. All buildings were burned to the ground, all boats were sunk or confiscated and all livestock taken away. All men in the village were either executed or sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, in Germany. Of the 72 who were deported from Telavåg, 31 were murdered in captivity. The women and the children were imprisoned for two years. Another 18 Norwegian prisoners unrelated to Telavåg, who were held at the Trandum internment camp, were also executed as reprisals. In another incident, the shooting of two German police officials on 6 September 1942 led to Terboven personally declaring martial law in Trondheim from 5 to 12 October 1942. He imposed a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. and suppressed all newspapers, public assemblies and railroad transportation. On Terboven's orders, ten prominent citizens were executed in reprisal, and their assets were confiscated. In addition, Terboven set up an ad hoc extrajudicial tribunal to try Norwegians considered “hostile to the state”. An additional 24 men were tried and summarily executed over the next three days. [13]

Despite the small number of Jews in Norway's population (around 1,800), Terboven persecuted them relentlessly. Some 930 managed to escape to neighboring Sweden, but some 770 were rounded up and deported to Germany. The main deportation occurred on 26 November 1942, when 532 Jews were shipped to Stettin aboard the SS Donau . From there, they were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and only 9 survived the war. On 25 February 1943, another 158 were similarly deported aboard the MS Gotenland, and only six survived. [10]

Last months of war and death

On 25 September 1944, Terboven, in his capacity as Gauleiter of Essen, was named commander of the Volkssturm units in the Gau. In reality, it was his Deputy Gauleiter, Fritz Schlessmann, who executed those duties as he had been Acting Gauleiter in Essen during Terboven's absence in Norway since 1940. In October 1944, in response to the Red Army advance in to the Finnmark region of northern Norway, Terboven instituted a scorched earth policy that resulted in the forced evacuation of 50,000 Norwegians and widespread destruction, including the burning of 10,000 homes; 4700 farms; and hundreds of schools, churches, shops and industrial buildings. [14]

As the tide of the war turned against Germany, Terboven's personal aspiration was to organise Festung Norwegen (Fortress Norway) for the Nazi regime's last stand. However, after Hitler's suicide, his successor, Großadmiral Karl Dönitz, summoned Terboven to his headquarters in Flensburg on 3 May 1945 and ordered him to cooperate with winding down hostilities. Terboven expressed his desire to continue fighting. Consequently, Dönitz dismissed Terboven from his post as Reichskommissar on 7 May and transferred his powers to General der Gebirgstruppe Franz Böhme. [15]

With the announcement of Germany's surrender, Terboven committed suicide on 8 May 1945 by detonating 50 kilograms (110 lb) of dynamite in a bunker on the Skaugum compound. His remains are believed to be buried somewhere nearby in an unmarked grave. [16] He died alongside the body of Obergruppenführer Rediess, who had shot himself earlier. Terboven's family survived in West Germany, although in an event in 1964 unrelated to her father's history, Josef Terboven's daughter, Inga, killed her two-year old daughter, by strangulation. Josef Terboven's wife, Ilse (Stahl) died in 1972. [17]

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  1. Terboven in Digitales Familiennamenwörterbuch Deutschlands
  2. Miller & Schulz 2021, pp. 437–438.
  3. Miller & Schulz 2021, p. 438.
  4. Orlow 1969, pp. 140, 206.
  5. Miller & Schulz 2021, p. 439.
  6. Höffkes 1986, p. 346.
  7. Orlow 1973, pp. 299–300.
  8. "Oslo's Old Regime Ended by Germany". New York Times. 26 September 1940. p. 4.
  9. Miller & Schulz 2021, pp. 444–445.
  10. 1 2 Miller & Schulz 2021, p. 446.
  11. "Da nordmenn myrdet fanger i Korgen | Tekster og slikt". 26 October 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2017. Da to fanger i Korgen drepte en tysk vokter og rømte, ga kommandant Hesse ordre om at det som hevn skulle skytes 39 fanger i Korgen og 20 i Osen. Dette var 17. juli 1942. Hesse startet myrderiene med sjøl å skyte flere fanger. De nærmeste dagene ble det på Reichskommissar Terbovens personlige ordre skutt om lag 400 krigsfanger i forskjellige leire
  12. Miller & Schulz 2021, pp. 450–451.
  13. Miller & Schulz 2021, pp. 451–453.
  14. Miller & Schulz 2021, p. 454.
  15. Miller & Schulz 2021, p. 455.
  16. Goeschel, Christian (2009), Suicide in Nazi Germany, OUP Oxford, p. 152, ISBN   978-0191567568.
  17. Miller & Schulz 2021, p. 456.


Josef Terboven
Terboven statsakten.jpg
Terboven in February 1942, during the Akershus Government Act ceremony.
Reichskommissar for the Occupied Norwegian Territories
In office
24 April 1940 7 May 1945