Norwegian resistance movement

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Norwegian refugees undergoing military training in Sweden NorskPolitistyrkeSwedenWW2.jpg
Norwegian refugees undergoing military training in Sweden

The Norwegian resistance to the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany began after Operation Weserübung in 1940 and ended in 1945. It took several forms:

German occupation of Norway Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II

The German occupation of Norway during World War II began on 9 April 1940 after German forces invaded the neutral Scandinavian country of Norway. Conventional armed resistance to the German invasion ended on 10 June 1940 and the Germans controlled Norway until the capitulation of German forces in Europe on 8/9 May 1945. Throughout this period, Norway was continuously occupied by the Wehrmacht. Civil rule was effectively assumed by the Reichskommissariat Norwegen, which acted in collaboration with a pro-German puppet government, the Quisling regime, while the Norwegian King Haakon VII and the prewar government escaped to London, where they acted as a government in exile. This period of military occupation is in Norway referred to as the "war years" or "occupation period".

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Operation Weserübung code name for Germanys assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War

Operation Weserübung was the code name for Germany's assault on Denmark and Norway during the Second World War and the opening operation of the Norwegian Campaign. The name comes from the German for "Operation Weser-Exercise", the Weser being a German river.


A government in exile is a political group which claims to be a country or semi-sovereign state's legitimate government, but is unable to exercise legal power and instead resides in another state or foreign country. Governments in exile usually plan to one day return to their native country and regain formal power. A government in exile differs from a rump state in the sense that a rump state controls at least part of its former territory. For example, during World War I, nearly all of Belgium was occupied by Germany, but Belgium and its allies held on to a small slice in the country's west. A government in exile, in contrast, has lost all its territory.

Vidkun Quisling Norwegian politician and Nazi collaborator

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling was a Norwegian military officer and politician who nominally headed the government of Norway during the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany during World War II. He first came to international prominence as a close collaborator of explorer Fridtjof Nansen, organizing humanitarian relief during the Russian famine of 1921 in Povolzhye. He was posted as a Norwegian diplomat to the Soviet Union, and for some time also managed British diplomatic affairs there. He returned to Norway in 1929, and served as Minister of Defence in the governments of Peder Kolstad (1931–32) and Jens Hundseid (1932–33), representing the Farmers' Party.

Quisling regime Vidkun Quislings incluence in Norway during the Second World War

The Quisling regime or Quisling government are common names used to refer to the fascist collaborationist government led by Vidkun Quisling in German-occupied Norway during the Second World War. The official name of the regime from 1 February 1942 until its dissolution in May 1945 was Nasjonale regjering. Actual executive power was retained by the Reichskommissariat Norwegen, headed by Josef Terboven.

Asserting legitimacy of exiled Norwegian government

The Norwegian government of Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold, with the exception of foreign minister Halvdan Koht and minister of defense Birger Ljungberg, was largely caught by surprise when it became apparent in the early hours of 9 April 1940 that Nazi Germany had launched an invasion of Norway. Although some of the country's gold reserve had already been removed from Oslo, there were few contingency plans for such an invasion.

Johan Nygaardsvold Norwegian politician

Johan Nygaardsvold was a Norwegian politician from the Labour Party who served as Prime Minister of Norway from 1935 to 1945. From 1940 until 1945, he oversaw the Norwegian Government-in-exile from London as head of the Nygaardsvold cabinet during the Occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany.

Halvdan Koht Norwegian historian and politician

Halvdan Koht was a Norwegian historian and politician representing the Labour Party.

Birger Ljungberg was the Norwegian Minister of Defence 1939–1941.

The Norwegian government was unprepared and unwilling to capitulate to the ultimatum timed to coincide with the arrival of German troops and delivered by Curt Bräuer, the German representative in Oslo. The German demand that Norway accept the "protection of the Reich" was rebuffed by Koht and the Norwegian government before dawn had broken on the morning of invasion. "Vi gir oss ikke frivillig, kampen er allerede i gang", replied Koht. "We will not submit voluntarily; the struggle is already underway."[ citation needed ]

Curt Bräuer German politician

Curt Bräuer was a German career diplomat.

Anticipating German efforts to capture the government, the entire Norwegian parliament (the Storting ) the royal family, and cabinet hastily evacuated Oslo by train and car to Hamar and then on to Elverum, where an extraordinary session of parliament was called. In large part because of the presence of mind of the parliament's president C. J. Hambro, the Storting managed to pass an emergency measure (known as the Elverum Authorization) that gave full authority to the king and his cabinet until the Storting could convene again.

Storting supreme legislature of Norway

The Storting is the supreme legislature of Norway, established in 1814 by the Constitution of Norway. It is located in Oslo. The unicameral parliament has 169 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation in nineteen plurinominal constituencies. A member of the Storting is known in Norwegian as a stortingsrepresentant, literally "Storting representative".

Hamar City in Hedmark, Norway

Hamar[²hɑːmɑr](listen) is a town in Hamar Municipality in Hedmark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Hedmarken. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Hamar. The municipality of Hamar was separated from Vang as a town and municipality of its own in 1849. Vang was merged back into Hamar on 1 January 1992.

Elverum Municipality in Hedmark, Norway

Elverum  is a city and municipality in Hedmark county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Østerdalen. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Elverum. The municipality of Elverum was established on 1 January 1838 . Elverum lies at an important crossroads, with Hamar to the west, Kongsvinger to the south, and Trysil on the Swedish border to the northeast. It is bordered on the north by Åmot municipality, in the northeast by Trysil municipality, in the southeast by Våler, and in the west by Løten.

This gave King Haakon VII and the cabinet constitutional authority to reject the German emissary's ultimatum to accept the German invasion. Although there were several German attempts to capture or kill the King and the Norwegian government, they managed to evade these attempts and traveled through Norway's remote interior until leaving the country for London on the British heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire on 7 June. [1]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Heavy cruiser type of cruiser warship

The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range and high speed, armed generally with naval guns of roughly 203 mm (8 inches) in caliber, whose design parameters were dictated by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930. The heavy cruiser is part of a lineage of ship design from 1915 through the early 1950s, although the term "heavy cruiser" only came into formal use in 1930. The heavy cruiser's immediate precursors were the light cruiser designs of the 1900s and 1910s, rather than the armoured cruisers of before 1905. When the armoured cruiser was supplanted by the battlecruiser, an intermediate ship type between this and the light cruiser was found to be needed—one larger and more powerful than the light cruisers of a potential enemy but not as large and expensive as the battlecruiser so as to be built in sufficient numbers to protect merchant ships and serve in a number of combat theaters.

HMS <i>Devonshire</i> (39) ship

HMS Devonshire, pennant number 39, was a County-class heavy cruiser of the London sub-class built for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s. The ship spent most of her pre-World War II career assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet aside from a brief tour with the China Station. She spent the first two months of the Second World War in the Mediterranean until she was transferred to the Home Fleet and became flagship of a cruiser squadron. Devonshire took part in the Norwegian Campaign in mid 1940 and evacuated much of the Norwegian Government in June. Several months later, she participated in the Battle of Dakar, a failed attempt to seize the Vichy French colony of Senegal in September. The ship remained in the South Atlantic afterwards and supported Free French efforts to take control of French Equatorial Africa in addition to searching for German commerce raiders.

Reserving the constitutional legitimacy of the Norwegian government also undermined Vidkun Quisling's attempts at claiming the Norwegian government for himself. After Quisling had proclaimed his assumption of the government, several individuals on the Supreme Court took the initiative to establish an Administrative Council (Administrasjonsrådet) in an effort to stop him. This became a controversial initiative, in that the legitimate Norwegian government refused to give the council any legal backing, and the German authorities ended up disbanding it.

Initial defense

Although some politicians across the political spectrum had advocated strengthening the country's defense capabilities, a longstanding policy of disarmament following World War I had left the Norwegian military underfunded and undertrained by the late 1930s. As a result, forces in Southern Norway were largely unprepared for the German invasion, and the invading German army met little initial resistance.

There was also spirited defense at other locations, including Midtskogen, Hegra and Narvik but these were largely the result of improvised missions by isolated military units and irregular volunteers. The battles slowed down the German advance by several days, allowing the Norwegian government to evade capture and conduct critical constitutional business.

The British and French began landing on Norwegian soil within a week of the German invasion.


Several Norwegian military units that had mobilized as a precautionary measure in Northern Norway during the Winter War, in cooperation with Polish, French and British forces, launched several counterattacks with moderate success. Allied forces had several successes in Northern Norway, but were redirected for the futile defense of France. While Northern Norway ultimately fell, efforts there allowed the Norwegian government, including the Norwegian royal family, to escape and maintain the legitimate government in exile, as part of the Allies.

While stationed in London, the government contributed Norwegian forces to the Allied effort and ordered the Norwegian Merchant Fleet to assist in transportation. To facilitate this the ships were operated under the Nortraship organization, at that time the world's largest shipping company. It also created apprehension in the Nazi leadership that Allied forces might try to recapture Norway to deny German naval units access to the North Atlantic, tying up several hundred thousand troops that otherwise would have been deployed to other fronts.

Armed resistance

The German surrender of Akershus Fortress to Terje Rollem on 11 May 1945. German surrender of Akershus Fortress.jpg
The German surrender of Akershus Fortress to Terje Rollem on 11 May 1945.

Although Norway did not have any major battles beyond those of the Norwegian Campaign, a number of military operations served to subvert the Nazi authorities and contribute to the larger war effort. Milorg started out as a small sabotage unit and ended up building a full military force in time for the liberation. Company Linge was a special operations unit that specialized in coastal insertions and combat. There were repeated raids in Lofoten, Måløy, and other coastal areas.

Norwegian spotters aided in the destruction of numerous German warships, such as the battleships Bismarck [ citation needed ] and Tirpitz. [2] [3] The Norwegian resistance also smuggled people in and out of Norway during the war, through Sweden or by fishing boats to Shetland, nicknamed the "Shetland bus". A number of saboteurs, most notably Max Manus and Gunnar Sønsteby, destroyed ships and supplies. Perhaps its most famous achievements were a series of operations to destroy Norsk Hydro's heavy water plant and stockpile of heavy water at Vemork, crippling the German nuclear programme. The Germans attempted to stifle Resistance activities and executed several innocent Norwegian men, women, and children in retaliation after any Resistance act. [ citation needed ] Probably the worst act of reprisal was the assault on the fishing village of Telavåg in the spring of 1942.[ citation needed ] [4] [5]

To assist with the sabotage campaign, the United States sent OSS forces, including future CIA director William Colby, into Norway to support resistance. [6] In the mid-1980s, it was revealed that Sweden aided the Norwegian resistance movement with training and equipment in a series of camps along the Norwegian border. To avoid suspicion, they were camouflaged as police training camps. By 1944, some 7,000–8,000 men had been secretly trained in Sweden. [7]

During the Liberation of Finnmark from 1944-1945, 1,442 police troops from Sweden would be flown in to assist the Soviets and Free Norwegian Forces. In addition to forces brought in from abroad, local troops were also recruited.

Intelligence gathering within occupied Norway was very much needed for the Allied forces, and several organizations were established for this, the largest and most efficient of which was called XU. Established by Arvid Storsveen, its members were students from the University of Oslo. One interesting fact was that two of its four leaders were young women, among them Anne-Sofie Østvedt.

One of the leading sabotage organisations in Norway during most of World War II was the communist Osvald Group led by Asbjørn Sunde. [8]

During the war years, the resistance movement in occupied Norway had 1433 members killed, of whom 255 were women. [9]

Civil disobedience

The obverse of a 1940 Norwegian krone. Coins with the H7 monogram were worn by Norwegian nationalists as jewellery during the occupation, and subsequently confiscated by German authorities. Norway 1 Krone 1940 obverse H7 monogram.jpg
The obverse of a 1940 Norwegian krone. Coins with the H7 monogram were worn by Norwegian nationalists as jewellery during the occupation, and subsequently confiscated by German authorities.

Of lesser military importance was the distribution of illegal newspapers (often with news items culled from Allied news broadcasts; possession of radios was illegal). The purpose of this was twofold: it counteracted Nazi propaganda, and it maintained nationalistic, anti-German feelings in the population at large. It has been suggested that combating the illegal press expended German resources out of proportion to the illegal media's actual effects.

Finally, there was the attempt at maintaining an "ice front" against the German soldiers. This involved, among other things, never speaking to a German if it could be avoided (many pretended to speak no German, though it was then almost as prevalent as English is now) and refusing to sit beside a German on public transportation. The latter was so annoying to the occupying German authorities that it became illegal to stand on a bus if seats were available.

Towards the end of the war, the resistance became more open, with rudimentary military organizations set up in the forests around the larger cities. A number of Nazi collaborators and officials were killed, and those collaborating with the German or Quisling authorities were ostracized, both during and after the war.

The first mass outbreak of civil disobedience occurred in the autumn of 1940, when students of Oslo University began to wear paper clips on their lapels to demonstrate their resistance to the German occupiers and their Norwegian collaborators. A seemingly innocuous item, the paper clip was a symbol of solidarity and unity ("we are bound together"), implying resistance. The wearing of paper clips, the popular H7 monogram and similar symbols (e.g. red garments, e.g. Bobble hats) was outlawed and could lead to arrest and punishment.

The Norwegian Resistance Museum, at Akershus Fortress, Oslo, gives a good account of the activities of the Norwegian resistance movement.

See also

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  1. "War Memories of Devonshire". Royal Navy Memories. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  2. Forsgren, Jan. "Sinking the Beast: The RAF 1944 Lancaster Raids Against Tirpitz" Fonthill Media, 2017.
  3. Kristian Ottosen: Theta theta (s. 39-41), Universitetsforlaget, Oslo 1983, ISBN   82-00-06823-4
  4. "Søndagen dei aldri gløymer" (in Norwegian). Bergens Tidende. 26 April 2002. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  5. Oddleiv Lygre (26 April 2002). "Telavåg-barnas grufulle minner" (in Norwegian). Bergens Tidende . Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  6. Carl Colby (director) (September 2011). The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (Motion picture). New York City: Act 4 Entertainment. Retrieved 2011.Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. Monsen, Kurt. Police units in Sweden: Norwegian resistance Page 1. Accessed April 3, 2010.
  8. Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Osvald-gruppen". In Hans Fredrik Dahl (ed.). Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN   82-02-14138-9 . Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  9. Dahl, Hans Fredrik, ed. (1995). "tap". Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 414–415. ISBN   8202141389 . Retrieved 6 June 2015.

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