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Offline <k>

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Norway under Nazi occupation
« on: April 21, 2017, 03:15:38 PM »
In this topic I will give a brief biography of the Norwegian traitor and collaborator Vidkun Quisling, as well as a brief account of Norway in the 1920s and 1930s, before the Second World War war broke out.

Offline <k>

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 03:17:43 PM »
Vidkun Quisling was born in 1887 to a well-off upper-middle class family. His father was a Norwegian pastor and genealogist. As a young man Quisling attended military academy, graduating with the highest score ever achieved until then. In November 1911 he joined the army with the rank of major and was given Russia as his special field of study.

During the carnage of World War 1, Norway maintained its official policy of neutrality. Despite this, German submarines deliberately sank several hundred Norwegian merchant ships in the North Sea, and from 1917 Norway complied with Britain’s demand to stop trade with Germany. Thereafter, Norway’s political sympathies lay with Britain.

In March 1918, Quisling found work as a military attaché at the Norwegian legation in Petrograd, Russia. Though horrified by Russia’s poverty and harsh living conditions, he watched with reluctant admiration as the Bolsheviks asserted their control of the country with brutal efficiency and enthusiasm. From December 1918 to September 1919 he had a brief spell as intelligence officer for the Norwegian legation in Helsinki.

The Russian revolution of 1917 had a momentous effect on post-war Europe. Norway shared a small border with the Soviet Union, and there was brief unrest during the general strike of 1921. From 1919 to 1921, the Norwegian Labour Party adhered to the Comintern line, a fact not lost on Norway’s conservatives and businessmen. In the austere decade of the 1920s, the newly formed Farmers’ Party particularly resented the growth of trade unionism.

Meanwhile, Quisling found work with Norwegian explorer and humanitarian Fridthof Nansen, under the auspices of the League of Nations. In April 1920, at the League's request, Nansen began organising the repatriation of around half a million prisoners of war, stranded in various parts of the world. Of these, 300,000 were in Russia which, gripped by revolution and civil war, had little interest in their fate.  Nansen was able to report to the Assembly in November 1920 that around 200,000 men had been returned to their homes. In the autumn of 1921, Quisling left Norway at Nansen’s request, and in January 1922 he arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kharkov to aid the League of Nations humanitarian relief effort there. Highlighting the massive mismanagement of the area and the death toll of approximately ten thousand a day, Quisling produced a report that attracted aid and demonstrated his administrative skills, as well as his dogged determination to get what he wanted. In Nansen’s final report in 1922, he stated that 427,886 prisoners had been repatriated to around 30 different countries.

In summer 1923, Quisling took a temporary discharge from the army to spend a year in Paris. However, he learned that army cutbacks meant that there would be no position available for him when he returned.  Quisling felt a certain grievance at having his chosen career cut short. Quisling devoted much of his time in the French capital to study, reading works of political theory and working on his philosophical project, which he called Universism. On 2 October 1923 he published an article calling for diplomatic recognition of the Soviet government.  Quisling's stay in Paris did not last long - in late 1923 he started work on Nansen's new repatriation project in the Balkans, arriving in Sofia in November. In the summer of 1924 he returned to Norway where, to his later embarrassment, he found himself drawn into the communist Norwegian labour movement. Quisling’s biographer Frederik Dahl states that Quisling's political views at this time could be summarised as "a fusion of socialism and nationalism", with definite sympathies for the Soviet regime in Russia. It is of course common enough for political extremists to switch from left to right, or vice versa, but Quisling’s flirtation with communism apparently did not last long.

Offline <k>

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 03:20:31 PM »
In June 1925, Nansen and Quisling toured Armenia, where they hoped to help repatriate native Armenians via various League of Nations projects. However, the projects were all rejected. In May 1926, Quisling found another job with fellow Norwegian Frederik Prytz in Moscow, working as a liaison between Prytz and the Soviet authorities, who owned half of Prytz's firm Onega Wood. In early 1927 Prytz decided to close the business. British diplomatic affairs in Russia were being managed by Norway, and Quisling became their new legation secretary (1927-9). The harder line now developing in Russian politics led Quisling to distance himself from Bolshevism. The Soviet government had rejected outright his Armenian proposals, and obstructed an attempt by Nansen to help with the 1928 Ukrainian famine. Quisling took these rebuffs as a personal insult; in 1929, with the British now keen to take back control of their own diplomatic affairs, he left Russia.

Below: Quisling, top left, and Nansen, centre - front row, in 1925.

Offline <k>

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 03:25:00 PM »
After the first world war, the Conservative and Liberal parties formed coalition governments, with a brief interlude when the Labour party formed its first government in 1928. However, its radical socialist program caused a run on the banks, and the government collapsed after only eighteen days. Italy had had a Fascist government since 1922, and enthusiasm for its ideas was now spreading to various parts of Europe, including Germany. Many of the small farmers of the Farmers Party were becoming attracted to a kind of national romanticism that promoted a sense of feeling rooted in the soil.

After Nansen died on 13 May 1930, Quisling presented himself as heir to his legacy. His analysis of Nansen, entitled 'Political Thoughts on the Death of Fridtjof Nansen', was published on 24 May, on the front page of the Oslo newspaper, Tidens Tegn. He outlined ten points that would complete Nansen's vision for Norway, including "strong and just government" and a "greater emphasis on race and heredity". In autumn 1930 he published his book, ‘Russia and Ourselves’. Advocating war against Bolshevism, the openly racist book catapulted Quisling into the political limelight. Meanwhile, he and Prytz founded a new political movement, Nordisk folkereisning i Norge ("Nordic popular rising in Norway"), with Quisling as its fører (leader). In March 1931 the movement claimed that its mission was to ‘eliminate the imported and depraved communist insurgency’.

Quisling left the movement in May 1931 to serve as defence minister in the Farmers party government but did not join any party. He gained this post through his connections with Prytz. Quisling's first action in the post was to deal with the aftermath of the Battle of Menstad, an "extremely bitter" labour dispute, by sending in troops. Quisling then turned his attention to the perceived threat posed by communists. He now became a maverick right-wing, publicity-hungry politician, freely flinging accusations of treason at the Labour party and labour movement. In April 1932, he attacked the Labour and Communist parties, claiming that named members were criminals and "enemies of our fatherland and our people". He resigned from the government in 1933 to form the fascist Nasjonal Samling (National Union) Party. However, the party gained only 2.2% of the votes in the general election that year and no seats in parliament, and after that it was downhill all the way. The Labour party won the election, and it now adopted moderate policies. In coalition with the Farmers party, it successfully steered Norway through the worst of the Great Depression.

 
« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 10:55:08 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 03:27:26 PM »
From late 1933, Quisling's Nasjonal Samling began to carve out its own form of national socialism. Quisling began to familiarise himself with the international fascist movement, attending the 1934 Montreux Fascist conference in December. For his party, the association with Italian fascism could not have come at a worse time, so soon after headlines of illegal Italian incursions into Abyssinia. In the summer of 1935, headlines quoted Quisling telling opponents that "heads would roll" as soon as he achieved power. The threat irreparably damaged the image of his party, and over the following few months several high-ranking members resigned. Though he preferred to see his own policies as a synthesis of Italian fascism and German Nazism, by the time of the 1936 elections, Quisling had in part become the "Norwegian Hitler" that his opponents had long accused him of being. This was due to his hardening anti-Semitic stance and Nasjonal Samling's growing similarity to the German Nazi Party. However, most Norwegians were shocked by the anti-semitic policies of the German Nazi party, and Quisling and his party became an irrelevance in Norway.

In 1939 Quisling turned his attention towards Norway's preparations for the anticipated European war, which he believed involved a drastic increase in the country's defence spending to guarantee its neutrality. He presented lectures entitled "The Jewish problem in Norway" and supported Adolf Hitler. In the summer of 1939 he began a tour of a number of German and Danish cities. He was received particularly well in Germany, which promised funds to boost Nasjonal Samling's standing in Norway, and hence spread pro-Nazi sentiment.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 03:31:44 PM »
Let's briefly look at the Norwegian coinage, as it was on the eve of war. Most of the coins I will show are dated 1940, but one is dated 1941.

Below you see the reverse of the 1 øre coin. The year is divided by crossed hammers, which represents the mint mark.

Offline <k>

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 03:33:15 PM »
Here you see the reverse of the 2 øre coin, which has a similar design apart from the denomination. The images are not to scale, by which I mean that this coin was not in fact smaller than 1 øre coin.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 03:35:13 PM »
Here you see the very similar reverse of the 5 øre coin.

The 1, 2 and 5 øre coins shared a common obverse, which showed the monogram of King Haakon VII and his crown. The obverse legend translates as "Kingdom of Norway".

Offline <k>

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 03:37:40 PM »
Below you see the 10 øre coin. The obverse shows only the king's crown this time, and the legend translates as "Everything for Norway".

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2017, 03:41:46 PM »
The 25 øre showed some similar design elements to the 10 øre, but not always on the same side (obverse or reverse) as the 10 øre.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2017, 03:44:31 PM »
The design of the 50 øre was in some ways similar to and in some ways different from that of the 25 øre.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2017, 03:45:48 PM »
Finally the krone coin, Norway's highest circulating denomination.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2017, 07:42:59 PM »
On September 1 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Quisling felt vindicated by the immediate superiority displayed by the German army. He remained confident that his tiny party would soon become the centre of political attention. However, after Germany’s annexation of Austria and its cynical dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, Britain and France were no longer prepared to stand by as Hitler rampaged across Europe, and on September 3 they declared war on Germany. During the early months of the “phoney war”, not much happened, but the Allies attempted to blockade the Germans at sea. The Allies knew that Swedish iron ore, which was crucial to the German war effort, was delivered across land to the ice-free port of Narvik in Norway and thence to Germany. Both sides therefore had an interest in controlling the North Sea.

Nazi Germany and the USSR had meanwhile signed a pact on August 23 1939. Its secret protocols allowed both countries to divide Europe into spheres of influence. After having invaded and annexed western Poland on September 17, by agreement with the Nazis, the Soviets then demanded parts of Finland. Stalin wanted to provide more of a protective buffer space for Leningrad, which at that time was not far from the Finnish border. He knew that war with Germany was just a matter of time, while Hitler for his part longed to invade the Soviet Union. The Nazi-Soviet pact allowed the two dictators to play for time as they prepared their next move on the chessboard. Unsurprisingly, the Finns refused Stalin’s demand. The USSR then invaded Finland on November 30 1939, thus beginning the Winter War. Initially the Allies had wanted to go to the assistance of Finland, as a pretext to land troops in northern Scandinavia, but neutral Norway and Sweden refused them permission, and Finland’s defeat on March 12 1940 ended the Winter War. Finland was then forced to cede territory to the Soviet Union. Most Norwegians were shocked at this attack on their Scandinavian neighbour, but they also understood that Hitler’s behaviour, in signing the Nazi-Soviet pact, had made it possible. Hitler was therefore particularly unpopular with most of the peace-loving Norwegians, many of whom still remembered the German sinking of Norwegian ships during the First World War.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2017, 08:59:59 PM »
The Allies now changed tack and began laying mines off the Norwegian coast on 8 April in order to deter German shipping. Just as the Norwegian government was protesting against this violation of its neutrality, Germany launched its invasion of Norway and Denmark on April 9.

Norway was invaded by the naval and air forces of Nazi Germany in the early hours of 9 April 1940. A German flotilla headed up the Oslofjord to take Oslo, but it was fired on by Norwegian artillery based at Oscarsborg Fortress. This sank the heavy cruiser Blücher, with heavy German losses that included many of the armed forces, Gestapo agents, and administrative personnel who were planning to occupy Oslo. The flotilla now withdrew, preventing the invaders from occupying Oslo at dawn as had been planned. This delay allowed the Norwegian Royal Family, the cabinet, and most of the 150 members of the Storting (parliament) to make a hasty departure from the capital by special train.

The Germans had expected the government to surrender. After hours of discussion, Quisling and his German counterparts decided that an immediate coup was necessary. Quisling accused the legitimate government of having "fled", although it had merely relocated to Elverum, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) away. He then drew up a list of his own ministers. Meanwhile, the Germans occupied Oslo, and at 17:30 Norwegian radio ceased broadcasting at the request of the occupying forces. With German support, at approximately 19:30, Quisling entered the NRK studios in Oslo and proclaimed the formation of a new government with himself as Prime Minister. He also revoked an earlier order to mobilise against the German invasion. He still lacked legitimacy. Two orders—one to a friend in the military to arrest the government and another to the Oslo chief of police—were ignored. At 22:00, Quisling resumed broadcasting, repeating his earlier message. Hitler recognised the new Norwegian government under Quisling within 24 hours. Norwegian batteries were still firing on the German invasion force, and at 03:00 on 10 April Quisling acceded to a German request to halt the resistance of the Bolærne fortress. As a result, it was claimed at the time that Quisling's seizure of power in a puppet government had been part of the German plan all along.

On 10 April, Bräuer, the German ambassador travelled to Elverum, where the legitimate government now sat. On Hitler's orders, Bräuer suggested that Haakon follow the example of the Danish government and his brother, Christian X, which had surrendered almost immediately after the previous day's invasion. Moreover, he threatened Norway with harsh reprisals if it did not surrender. He further demanded that King Haakon appoint Quisling head of a new government. Haakon told his cabinet that he would rather abdicate than appoint any government headed by Quisling. Hearing this, the government unanimously voted to support the king's stance and urged the people to continue their resistance. With no popular support, Quisling was no longer of use to Hitler. Germany retracted its support for his rival government, preferring instead to build up its own independent governing commission. In this way, Quisling was manoeuvred out of power.

Meanwhile, the King, Crown Prince Olav, and the government managed to escape to Molde in north-west Norway, where they remained for some days. They fled from Molde to Tromsø, escaping the advancing German forces, and on 29 April the British cruiser HMS Glasgow rescued them and part of the Norwegian gold reserves. They then departed to the United Kingdom on 1 May, where the Norwegians set up a government-in-exile.

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Re: Norway under Nazi occupation
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2017, 05:33:12 PM »
Meanwhile, British and French troops had landed at Narvik on 14 April 1940 to assist the Norwegians, pushing the Germans out of the town and almost forcing them to surrender. But although further Allied landings took place between 18 and 23 April, on 26 April the British decided to evacuate Norway.  By 2 May, both Namsos and Åndalsnes were evacuated by the British. On 5 May, the last Norwegian resistance pockets remaining in South and Central Norway were defeated at Vinjesvingen and Hegra Fortress. In the north, German troops engaged in a bitter fight at the Battle of Narvik, holding out against five times as many British and French troops, but they were surprised when the British started to abandon Narvik on 3 June. By that time the German offensive in France had progressed to such an extent that the British could no longer afford any commitment in Norway, and all of the 25,000 Allied troops were evacuated from Narvik merely 10 days after their victory.

Fighting continued in Northern Norway until 10 June, when the Norwegian 6th Division surrendered shortly after Allied forces had been evacuated against the background of looming defeat in France. Among German-occupied territories in Western Europe, this meant that Norway was the country that withstood the German invasion for the longest period of time – approximately two months.



Because of the failure of Britain's "Norway campaign", the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and his government came under heavy criticism for their conduct of the war. After two days of debate in Parliament, known as the Norway debate, on 7th and 8th May 1940, on Friday, 10 May, the day that Nazi Germany invaded Belgium and the Netherlands, Chamberlain resigned and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Churchill.

 
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 02:43:37 PM by <k> »