Operation Weserübung

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Operation Weserübung
Part of World War II
Operation Weserubung.jpg
Clockwise from top: German forces advancing near Bagn in Valdres, King Haakon VII of Norway and his son Crown Prince Olav during a German air raid on Molde, German bombing of the coastal fortress Oscarsborg, German Gebirgsjäger troops near Narvik, and Norwegian artillery in action near Narvik
Date9 April – 10 June 1940
Location
Result German victory
Territorial
changes
Occupation of Denmark and Norway
Belligerents
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Germany
Commanders and leaders
Strength
  • 9 divisions
  • 1 artillery battalion
  • 1 motorized rifle brigade
  • Total: 120,000
  • Norway:
  • 6 divisions: ~60,000
  • Denmark:
  • 2 divisions: ~14,500
  • Allies: ~35,000
  • Total: ~109,500
Casualties and losses
  • Kriegsmarine :
  • 1 heavy cruiser
  • 2 light cruisers
  • 10 destroyers
  • various U-boats, transports and smaller warships
  • Luftwaffe :
  • 1,130 air crew
  • 341 killed
  • 448 missing [1]
  • Total:
  • 5,636 killed or missing
  • 341 wounded
  • Norway:
  • 1,335 killed
  • unknown missing
  • Denmark:
  • 26 killed
  • 23 wounded [2]
  • Allies: 4,765 killed
  • Total: 6,116 killed

Operation Weserübung (German : Unternehmen Weserübung [ˈveːsɐˌʔyːbʊŋ] ) 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.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

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.

Denmark Constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Contents

In the early morning of 9 April 1940 (Wesertag, "Weser Day"), Germany occupied Denmark and invaded Norway, ostensibly as a preventive manoeuvre against a planned, and openly discussed, Franco-British occupation of Norway known as Plan R 4. After the occupation of Denmark (the Danish military was ordered to stand down as Denmark did not declare war with Germany), envoys of the Germans informed the governments of Denmark and Norway that the Wehrmacht had come to protect the countries' neutrality against Franco-British aggression. Significant differences in geography, location and climate between the two nations made the actual military operations very dissimilar.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Military occupation effective provisional control of a certain power over a territory

Military or belligerent occupation is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. The territory is then known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. Occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature, by its military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.

Plan R 4

Plan R 4 was the World War II British plan for an invasion of the neutral states of Norway and Sweden in April 1940, in the event of Germany violating the territorial integrity of Norway. Earlier, the British had planned a similar intervention with France during the Winter War.

The invasion fleet's nominal landing time, Weserzeit ("Weser Time"), was set to 05:15.

Political and military background

Starting in the spring of 1939, the British Admiralty began to view Scandinavia as a potential theatre of war in a future conflict with Germany. The British government was reluctant to engage in another land conflict on the continent that it believed would be a repetition of the First World War. Therefore, it began considering a blockade strategy in an attempt to weaken Germany indirectly. German industry was heavily dependent on the import of iron ore from the northern Swedish mining district, and much of this ore was shipped through the northern Norwegian port of Narvik during the winter months. [3] Control of the Norwegian coast would serve to tighten a blockade against Germany.

Admiralty British Government ministry responsible for the Royal Navy until 1964

The Admiralty, originally known as the Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs, was the government department responsible for the command of the Royal Navy first in the Kingdom of England, later in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and from 1801 to 1964, the United Kingdom and former British Empire. Originally exercised by a single person, the Lord High Admiral (1385–1628), the Admiralty was, from the early 18th century onwards, almost invariably put "in commission" and exercised by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, who sat on the Board of Admiralty.

Scandinavia Region in Northern Europe

Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three, belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages. In English usage, Scandinavia also sometimes refers to the Scandinavian Peninsula, or to the broader region including Finland and Iceland, which is always known locally as the Nordic countries.

Theater (warfare) Area or place in which important military events occur or are progressing

In warfare, a theater or theatre is an area in which important military events occur or are progressing. A theater can include the entirety of the airspace, land and sea area that is or that may potentially become involved in war operations.

In October 1939, the chief of the German Kriegsmarine, Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, discussed with Adolf Hitler the danger posed by potential British bases in Norway and the possibility of Germany seizing these bases before the United Kingdom could. The navy argued that possession of Norway would allow control of the nearby seas and serve as a platform for staging submarine operations against the United Kingdom. [3] However, the other branches of the Wehrmacht were not then interested, and Hitler had just issued a directive stating that the main effort would be a land offensive through the Low Countries.

<i>Kriegsmarine</i> 1935–1945 naval warfare branch of Germanys armed forces

The Kriegsmarine was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire (1871–1918) and the inter-war Reichsmarine (1919–1935) of the Weimar Republic. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches, along with the Heer (Army) and the Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945.

Erich Raeder German naval officer and Großadmiral during World War II

Erich Johann Albert Raeder was a German admiral who played a major role in the naval history of World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank, that of Grand Admiral, in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Henning von Holtzendorff. Raeder led the Kriegsmarine for the first half of the war; he resigned in 1943 and was replaced by Karl Dönitz. At the Nuremberg Trials he was sentenced to life in prison but was released early due to failing health.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Toward the end of November, Winston Churchill, as a new member of the British War Cabinet, proposed the mining of Norwegian waters in Operation Wilfred. This would force the ore transports to travel through the open waters of the North Sea, where the Royal Navy could intercept them.

Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during most of World War II

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British statesman, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.

Imperial War Cabinet

The Imperial War Cabinet (IWC) was the British Empire's wartime coordinating body. It met over three sessions, the first from 20 March to 2 May 1917, the second from 11 June to late July 1918, and the third from 20 or 25 November 1918 to early January 1919. Consisting of representatives from Canada, Australia, India, the Dominion of Newfoundland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the Cabinet considered many aspects of waging the First World War. It led to the United Kingdom's Dominions being considered more equal to Great Britain. Held concurrently with the cabinet were the Imperial War Conferences of 1917 and 1918.

Operation Wilfred was a British naval operation during the Second World War that involved the mining of the channel between Norway and her offshore islands to prevent the transport of Swedish iron ore through neutral Norwegian waters to be used to sustain the German war effort. The Allies assumed that Wilfred would provoke a German response in Norway and prepared a separate operation known as Plan R 4 to occupy Narvik and other important locations.

Churchill assumed that Wilfred would provoke a German response in Norway, and the Allies would then implement Plan R 4 and occupy Norway. Though later implemented, Operation Wilfred was initially rejected by Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax for fear of an adverse reaction among neutral nations like the United States. After the start of the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in November had changed the strategic situation, Churchill again proposed his mining scheme but once again was denied.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Neville Chamberlain Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British Conservative Party statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War.

Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax British politician

Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax,, styled Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was one of the most senior British Conservative politicians of the 1930s. He held several senior ministerial posts during this time, most notably those of Viceroy of India from 1925 to 1931 and of Foreign Secretary between 1938 and 1940. He was one of the architects of the policy of appeasement of Adolf Hitler in 1936–38, working closely with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. However, after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 he was one of those who pushed for a new policy of attempting to deter further German aggression by promising to go to war to defend Poland.

In December, the United Kingdom and France began serious planning for sending aid to Finland. Their plan called for a force to land in Narvik, in northern Norway, the main port for Swedish iron ore exports and to take control of the Malmbanan railway line from Narvik to Luleå in Sweden on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia. Conveniently, that would also allow the Allied forces to occupy the Swedish iron ore mining district. The plan received the support of both Chamberlain and Halifax. They were counting on the co-operation of Norway, which would alleviate some of the legal issues, but stern warnings issued to both Norway and Sweden by Germany resulted in strongly negative reactions in both countries. Planning for the expedition continued, but the justification for it was removed when Finland sued for peace with the Soviet Union in March 1940.

Planning

Following a meeting with Vidkun Quisling from Norway on 14 December, [4] Hitler turned his attention to Scandinavia. Convinced of the threat posed by the Allies to the iron ore supply, Hitler ordered Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Armed Forces High Command; OKW) to begin preliminary planning for an invasion of Norway. The preliminary plan was named Studie Nord and called for only one army division.

Between 14 and 19 January, the Kriegsmarine developed an expanded version of this plan. They decided upon two key factors: that surprise was essential to reduce the threat of Norwegian resistance (and British intervention); the second to use faster German warships, rather than comparatively slow merchant ships, as troop transports. That would allow all targets to be occupied simultaneously, which was impossible if transport ships were used, which travelled only slowly. The new plan called for a full army corps, including a mountain division, an airborne division, a motorized rifle brigade, and two infantry divisions. The target objectives of the force were the Norwegian capital Oslo and nearby population centres, Bergen, Narvik, Tromsø, Trondheim, Kristiansand, and Stavanger. The plan also called for the rapid capture of the kings of Denmark and Norway in the hope that would trigger a rapid surrender.

On 21 February 1940, command of the operation was given to General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst. He had fought in Finland during the First World War and was familiar with Arctic warfare, but he was to have command only of the ground forces, despite Hitler's desire to have a unified command.

The final plan was code-named Operation Weserübung ("Exercise on the Weser") on 27 January 1940. The ground forces would be the XXI Army Corps, including the 3rd Mountain Division and five infantry divisions, none of the latter having yet been tested in battle. The first echelon would consist of three divisions for the assault, with the remainder to follow in the next wave. Three companies of paratroopers would be used to seize airfields. The decision to also send the 2nd Mountain Division was made later.

Almost all U-boat operations in the Atlantic were to be stopped for the submarines to aid in the operation. Every available submarine, including some training boats, were used as part of Operation Hartmut in support of Weserübung.

Initially, the plan was to invade Norway and to gain control of Danish airfields by diplomatic means. But Hitler issued a new directive on 1 March that called for the invasion of both Norway and Denmark. This came at the insistence of the Luftwaffe to capture fighter bases and sites for air-warning stations. The XXXI Corps was formed for the invasion of Denmark, consisting of two infantry divisions and the 11th motorized brigade. The entire operation would be supported by the X Air Corps, consisting of some 1,000 aircraft of various types.

Preliminaries

German dead being brought ashore from the German naval tanker Altmark. Altmark Incident.jpg
German dead being brought ashore from the German naval tanker Altmark.
The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper landing troops in Norway in 1940. Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-757-0037N-26A, Norwegen, Schwerer Kreuzer "Admiral Hipper".jpg
The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper landing troops in Norway in 1940.

In February, the British destroyer HMS Cossack boarded the German transport ship Altmark while in Norwegian waters, thereby violating Norwegian neutrality, rescuing POWs also held in violation of Norwegian neutrality (the Altmark was obliged to release them as soon as she entered neutral territory). Hitler regarded this as a clear sign that the UK was willing to violate Norwegian neutrality, and so became even more strongly committed to the invasion. [3]

On 12 March, the United Kingdom decided to send an expeditionary force to Norway just as the Winter War was winding down. The expeditionary force began boarding on 13 March, but it was recalled and the operation cancelled, with the end of the Winter War. Instead, the British cabinet voted to proceed with the mining operation in Norwegian waters, followed by troop landings.

The first German ships set sail for the invasion on 3 April. Two days later, the long-planned Operation Wilfred was put into action, and the Royal Navy detachment, led by the battlecruiser HMS Renown, left Scapa Flow to mine Norwegian waters. The mine fields were laid in the Vestfjorden in the early morning of 8 April. Operation Wilfred was over, but later that day, the destroyer HMS Glowworm, detached on 7 April to search for a man lost overboard, was lost in action to the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and two destroyers belonging to the German invasion fleet.

On 9 April, the German invasion was under way, and the execution of Plan R 4 was promptly started.

Invasion of Denmark

German Pz.Kpfw. I tanks in Aabenraa, Denmark, 9 April 1940 Weserubung-Sud Panzers.PNG
German Pz.Kpfw. I tanks in Aabenraa, Denmark, 9 April 1940

Strategically, Denmark's importance to Germany was as a staging area for operations in Norway, and of course as a border nation to Germany which would have to be controlled in some way. Given Denmark's position on the Baltic Sea, the country was also crucial for the control of naval and shipping access to major German and Soviet harbours.

At 04:00 on 9 April 1940, the German ambassador to Denmark, Cecil von Renthe-Fink, called the Danish Foreign Minister Peter Munch and requested a meeting with him. When the two men met 20 minutes later, Renthe-Fink declared that German troops were then moving in to occupy Denmark to protect the country from Franco-British attack. The German ambassador demanded that Danish resistance cease immediately and that contact be made between Danish authorities and the German armed forces. If the demands were not met, the Luftwaffe would bomb the capital, Copenhagen.

German Leichter Panzerspahwagen armoured car in Jutland. Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-753-0010-19A, Jutland, deutscher Spahpanzer (Sd. Kfz. 222).jpg
German Leichter Panzerspähwagen armoured car in Jutland.

As the German demands were communicated, the first German advances had already been made, with forces landing by ferry in Gedser at 03:55 and moving north. German Fallschirmjäger units had made unopposed landings and taken two airfields at Aalborg, the Storstrøm Bridge as well as the fortress of Masnedø, the latter being the first recorded attack in the world made by paratroopers. [5]

At 04:20 local time, a reinforced battalion of German infantrymen from the 308th Regiment landed in Copenhagen harbour from the minelayer Hansestadt Danzig, quickly capturing the Danish garrison at the Citadel without encountering resistance. From the harbour, the Germans moved toward Amalienborg Palace to capture the Danish royal family. By the time the invasion forces arrived at the king's residence, the King's Royal Guard had been alerted and other reinforcements were on their way to the palace. The first German attack on Amalienborg was repulsed, giving Christian X and his ministers time to confer with the Danish Army chief General Prior. As the discussions were ongoing, several formations of Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17 bombers roared over the city dropping leaflets headed, in broken Danish, OPROP! (proclamation).

At 05:25, two squadrons of German Messerschmitt Bf 110s attacked Værløse airfield on Zealand and neutralised the Danish Army Air Service by strafing. [6] [ page needed ] Despite Danish anti-aircraft fire, the German fighters destroyed ten Danish aircraft and seriously damaged another fourteen, thereby wiping out half of the entire Army Air Service. [6] [ page needed ]

Danish troops at Bredevad on the morning of the German attack. Two of these soldiers were killed in action later that day. Danish soldiers on 9 April 1940.jpg
Danish troops at Bredevad on the morning of the German attack. Two of these soldiers were killed in action later that day.

Faced with the explicit threat of the Luftwaffe bombing the civilian population of Copenhagen, and with only General Prior in favor of fighting on, King Christian and the entire Danish government capitulated at approximately 06:00, in exchange for retaining political independence in domestic matters.

The invasion of Denmark lasted less than six hours and was the shortest military campaign conducted by the Germans during the war. The rapid Danish capitulation resulted in the uniquely-lenient occupation of Denmark, particularly until the summer of 1943, and in postponing the arrest and deportation of Danish Jews until nearly all of them were warned and on their way to refuge in Sweden. [7] In the end, 477 Danish Jews were deported, and 70 of them lost their lives, out of a pre-war total of Jews and half-Jews at a little over 8,000. [8]

Invasion of Norway

Order of battle

The operation's military headquarters was Hotel Esplanade in Hamburg, where orders were given to, among others, the air units involved in the invasion. [9]

Norway was important to Germany for two primary reasons: as a base for naval units, including U-boats, to harass Allied shipping in the North Atlantic, and to secure shipments of iron ore from Sweden through the port of Narvik. [3] The long northern coastline was an excellent place to launch U-boat operations into the North Atlantic to attack British commerce. Germany was dependent on iron ore from Sweden and was worried, with justification, that the Allies would attempt to disrupt those shipments, 90% of which originating from Narvik.

The invasion of Norway was given to the XXI Army Corps under General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst and consisted of the following main units:

The initial invasion force was transported in several groups by ships of the Kriegsmarine:

  1. Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as distant cover, plus 10 destroyers with 2,000 mountaineering troops under General Eduard Dietl to Narvik
  2. Heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and four destroyers with 1,700 troops to Trondheim
  3. Light cruisers Köln and Königsberg, artillery training ship Bremse, Schnellboot mothership Karl Peters, two torpedo boats and five motor torpedo boats with 1,900 troops to Bergen
  4. Light cruiser Karlsruhe, three torpedo boats, seven motor torpedo boats and Schnellboot mothership (Schnellbootbegleitschiff) Tsingtau with 1,100 troops to Kristiansand and Arendal
  5. Heavy cruiser Blücher, heavy cruiser Lützow, light cruiser Emden, three torpedo boats and eight minesweepers with 2,000 troops to Oslo
  6. Four minesweepers with 150 troops to Egersund

Concise timeline

The German landing sites during the initial phase of Operation Weserubung Weserubung.png
The German landing sites during the initial phase of Operation Weserübung
Map of Oslofjord with Oscarsborg Karte Oscarsborg.png
Map of Oslofjord with Oscarsborg

In the far north, Norwegian, French and Polish troops, supported by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force (RAF), fought against the Germans over the control of the Norwegian harbour Narvik, important for the year-round export of Swedish iron ore. The Germans were driven out of Narvik on 28 May, but the deteriorating situation on the European continent made the Allied troops withdraw in Operation Alphabet, and on 9 June, the Germans recaptured Narvik, which was also now deserted by the civilians because of massive Luftwaffe bombing.

Encircling of Sweden and Finland

Iron ore is extracted in Kiruna and Malmberget and brought by rail to the harbours of Lulea and Narvik. (Borders 1920-1940) Lapland1940.png
Iron ore is extracted in Kiruna and Malmberget and brought by rail to the harbours of Luleå and Narvik. (Borders 1920–1940)

Operation Weserübung did not include a military assault on (neutral) Sweden because there was no need.[ citation needed ] By holding Norway, the Danish straits and most of the shores of the Baltic Sea, the Third Reich encircled Sweden from the north, the west and the south. In the east, there was the Soviet Union, the successor of Sweden's and Finland's archenemy, Russia, on friendly terms with Hitler under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. A small number of Finnish volunteers helped the Norwegian Army against Germans in an ambulance unit.

Swedish and Finnish trade was dependent on the Kriegsmarine, and Germany put pressure on neutral Sweden to permit transit of military goods and soldiers on leave. On 18 June 1940, an agreement was reached. Soldiers were to travel unarmed and not be part of unit movements. A total of 2.14 million German soldiers, as well as more than 100,000 German military railway carriages, crossed Sweden until that traffic was suspended on 20 August 1943.

On 19 August 1940, Finland agreed to grant access to its territory for the Wehrmacht, with the agreement signed on 22 September. Initially for transit of troops and military equipment to and from northernmost Norway but soon also for minor bases along the transit road that eventually would grow in preparation for Operation Barbarossa.

Nuremberg Trials

The 1941 Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, and the 1940 German invasion of Norway have been argued to be preemptive, with the German defense in the Nuremberg trials in 1946 arguing that Germany was "compelled to attack Norway by the need to forestall an Allied invasion and that her action was therefore preemptive". [13] The German defence was to attempt to refer to Plan R 4 and its predecessors. However, it was determined that Germany had discussed invasion plans as early as 3 October 1939 in a memo from Admiral Raeder to Alfred Rosenberg whose subject was "gaining bases in Norway". [14] Raeder had begun by asking questions such as "Can bases be gained by military force against Norway's will, if it is impossible to carry this out without fighting?" [14] Norway was vital to Germany as a transport route for iron ore from Sweden, a supply that the United Kingdom was determined to stop. One British plan was to go through Norway and occupy cities in Sweden. [a] [b] An Allied invasion was ordered on 12 March, and the Germans intercepted radio traffic setting 14 March as deadline for the preparation. Peace in Finland interrupted the Allied plans. [c]

Two diary entries by Jodl dated 13 and 14 March did not indicate any high-level awareness of the Allied plan but also that Hitler was actively considering putting Weserübung into operation. The first said "Fuehrer does not give order yet for 'Weser Exercise'. He is still looking for an excuse". [14] The second "Fuehrer has not yet decided what reason to give for Weser Exercise". [14] It was not till 2 April 1940 that German preparations were completed and the Naval Operational Order for Weserübung was issued on 4 April 1940. The new Allied plans were Wilfred and Plan R 4. The plan was to provoke a German reaction by laying mines in Norwegian waters, and once Germany showed signs of taking action, UK troops would occupy Narvik, Trondheim, and Bergen and launch a raid on Stavanger to destroy Sola airfield. However, "the mines were not laid until the morning of 8 April, by which time the German ships were advancing up the Norwegian coast". [15] The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg determined that no Allied invasion was imminent and so rejected the German argument that Germany was entitled to attack Norway. [14]

See also

Notes

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    The German invasion of Denmark was the German attack on Denmark on 9 April, 1940, during the Second World War. The attack was a prelude to the main attack against Norway. The term Weserübung means Weser-exercise in English, named after the river Weser in northwestern Germany.

    This page is about the effects on Sweden, during and following Operation Weserübung.
    For articles about the operation itself:

    During the early stages of World War II, the British and French Allies made a series of proposals to send troops to assist Finland against the Soviet Union in the Winter War, which started on 30 November 1939. The war was a consequence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which put Finland into the Soviet sphere of influence. The plans involved the transit of British and French troops and equipment through neutral Norway and Sweden. The initial plans were abandoned due to Norway and Sweden declining transit through their land, fearing their countries would be drawn into the war. The Moscow Peace Treaty ended the war in March 1940, precluding the possibility of intervention.

    German U-boat bases in occupied Norway operated between 1940 and 1945, when the Kriegsmarine, converted several naval bases in Norway into submarine bases. Norwegian coastal cities became available to the Kriegsmarine after the invasion of Denmark and Norway in April 1940. Following the conclusion of the Norwegian Campaign, the occupying Germans began to transfer U-boats stationed in Germany to many Norwegian port cities such as Bergen, Narvik, Trondheim, Hammerfest and Kirkenes. Initial planning for many U-boat bunkers began in late 1940. Starting in 1941, the Todt Organisation began the construction of bunkers in Bergen and Trondheim. These bunkers were completed by Weyss & Freytagg AG between 1942 and 1943.

    Operationsbefehl Hartmut was the code word to begin German submarine operations during Operation Weserübung - Nazi Germany's invasion of Denmark and Norway. Occasionally these operations are termed Operation Hartmut. The orders involved submarine screening actions for the German invasion fleet and reconnaissance - particularly off Narvik and Trondheim. The orders also resulted in a number of attacks on Allied forces - particularly in or near the fjords of the Norwegian coast.

    Narvik (town) Town in Northern Norway, Norway

    Narvik is a town and the administrative centre of Narvik Municipality in Nordland county, Norway. The town is located along the Ofotfjorden in the Ofoten region. The town lies on a peninsula located between the Rombaken fjord and the Beisfjorden. The European route E06 highway runs through the Beisfjord Bridge and Hålogaland Bridge crossing the two small fjords surrounding the town.

    Spåkenes coastal fort

    Spåkenes fort is a ruined coastal fortress in northern Norway. It lies on the Spåkenes peninsula, which extends to the middle of the fjord Lyngen, built by the Germans during World War II. The fort lies on the border of Gáivuotna–Kåfjord and Nordreisa in Troms county. The nearest village is Djupvik. Spåkenes is open to visitors and has two marked paths that present the history of the fort via drawings and fictional accounts based on real-life situations.

    References

    1. Hooton 2007, p. 43.
    2. Zabecki 2014, p. 323.
    3. 1 2 3 4 5 Booth 1998, pp. 44-49.
    4. Petrow 1974, p. 15.
    5. Outze 1962, p. 359.
    6. 1 2 Schrøder 1999.
    7. Danish Jewish Museum 2003.
    8. Webb 2007.
    9. Jacobsen, Alf R. (2016). Kongens nei - 10. april 1940 (2nd ed.). Oslo: Vega Forlag. p. 42. ISBN   978-82-8211-279-6.
    10. Petrow 1974, p. 72.
    11. Petrow 1974, p. 89.
    12. Petrow 1974, p. 90.
    13. McDouglas 1997, pp. 211-212.
    14. 1 2 3 4 5 Yale Law School 2008.
    15. Ziemke 1960, p. 68.
    16. Ziemke 1960, p. 59.
    17. Ziemke 1960, pp. 66–67.
    18. Ziemke 1960, pp. 67–68.

    Bibliography

    Coordinates: 64°00′N12°00′W / 64.000°N 12.000°W / 64.000; -12.000