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#1
Old 02-07-2004, 12:51 AM
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What did Norway do in WW2?

I have always wondered this. Anyone care to cliffnotes or give a detailed summary of what Norway's role in WW2 was?

Thanx !
#2
Old 02-07-2004, 01:32 AM
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Google "Quisling" and you will get the answer.

Norway spent most of World War II occupied by Germany.
#3
Old 02-07-2004, 01:39 AM
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Norway was invaded in the Spring of 1940 by Germany, and fought bravely to retain its independence, but was overrun quite rapidly, owing to the disparity between the Norwegian Army and the Wehrmacht troops sent to take it over.

The government and the king escaped to Great Britain and fought the war from there, with IIRC one division of troops spirited out on the "Shetland Ferry" -- ships making the run at night between the Shetland Islands and the Norwegian coast. There was a very active Resistance, which among other things was able to sabotage the German efforts to create an atomic bomb -- something for which the whole world owes them great thanks, IMO.

But the most important thing was that the Norwegian Merchant Marine, fourth largest in the world, continued to fight alongside England -- light ships guns mounted on merchantmen, who were invaluable in transporting supplies throughout the war.

The Norwegian spirit was best shown in an official stamp printed by the government in exile in England -- a sidewalk with three words scrawled on it in chalk, chosen to be Norwegian but intelligible to English speakers as well: VE VILL VINNE!
#4
Old 02-07-2004, 01:55 AM
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Germany occupied Norway in April 1940. Norway resisted long enough for its government to go into exile. Germany wanted the iron ore from Norway but it really wanted the heavy water from the primiere heavy water plant in the world: Norsk Hydro at Vemork. This was necessary to do their studies on the atomic bomb. (In the US the scientists used pure carbon for the same purpose.) The plant was a cascade, somewhat like a series of locks, in which each successive pool contained a higher concentration of heavy water. The Germans took the plant.

The British were determined to sabatoge the plant, but it was a fortress. The first attempt was a failure. The second attempt met with little resistance, since the Germans lightly guarded the structure that they regarded as an impenetrable fortress. An explosion destroyed all eighteen cells, and the men escaped.

The Germans immediately started to repair the plant, bringing back stores of heavy water from Germany to speed restoration of the cascade. When the plant was in full operation, more heavily guarded, the English sent an air raid to destroy parts of the plant.

The Germans decided to move the plant to Germany, along with all the heavy water that was at the plant. Knut Haukelid and Alf Larsen interfered with their plans, blowing up the ferry that carried the heavy water.

These events in Norway may have made the difference in whether Germany got the bomb before the US. It's hard to say.
#5
Old 02-07-2004, 01:58 AM
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Oops, I got scooped partially.
I forgot to mention my source: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.
#6
Old 02-07-2004, 02:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtbiehle
I forgot to mention my source: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.
In addition to the book cited by gtbiehle above, I just wanted to add a couple of other sources for those interested in the Norwegian Resistance attacks on the Hydro Norsk heavy water plant in Norway's Telemark region in 1943:

(Book) - Blood and Water: Sabotaging Hitler's Bomb by Dan Kurzman

(Movie) - The Heroes of Telemark (1965), starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris. Although it's definitely an adaptation rather than literal truth, it gives a good feel (IMHO) for what must really have happened.
#7
Old 02-07-2004, 08:05 AM
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My great-uncle was shot down by the Nazis during a bombing raid over Norway. The Resistance kept him alive and eventually transported him back to the UK. He owed the Norwegians his life, notwithstanding their bread made with sawdust instead of flour.

-Apoptosis
#8
Old 02-07-2004, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtbiehle
Germany wanted the iron ore from Norway....
Minor nitpick: Norway was not itself a significant producer of iron ore, but owing to the Gulf Stream, its ports were ice-free. Therefore Swedish ore from Kiruna and Gallivare (mining communities in the large ore range in northernmost Sweden) was shipped across the border by rail and transshipped onto freighters at Narvik, Norway. (Sweden remained neutral during the war, retaining its independence in the face of Nazi expansionism by a willingness to freely sell to Germany the raw materials it needed provided that it was left alone.)
#9
Old 02-07-2004, 08:35 AM
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One absolutely immense contribution of the Norwegain resistance was that it compelled the Germans to keep very large numbers of troops there.

The Germans kept 400000 troops there both to tie down the population of 4millions, and to keep the threat of a northern invasion at bay.

The threat posed by the Norwegian resistance, which was pretty much across the majority of the population, meant that any potential invasion would had had massive and very effective support, from intelligence to sabotage, and in a country where local knowledge and terrain were absolutely crucial it meant Germany had no option but to station such a large occupying force.

Even with such number of occupiers, the German forces stationed in Norway were unable to prevent very serious sabotage to their most important military research programs.

When Overlord was underway those troops would have been at the very least, a serious resource upon which Germany might have been able to draw upon but were fortunately tied down.

The reality is even more surprising, because there may well have been even more German forces occupying Norway than those 400k, since these were what remained when Germany capitulated, and it seems very likely that there must have been some redeployment away from Norway before that.
#10
Old 02-07-2004, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp
But the most important thing was that the Norwegian Merchant Marine, fourth largest in the world, continued to fight alongside England -- light ships guns mounted on merchantmen, who were invaluable in transporting supplies throughout the war.
Mounted on merchantmen? How light were these guns, exactly? The size of a Stinger or a Blowpipe?
#11
Old 02-07-2004, 10:35 AM
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I like this thread because when you look at the number of casualties by country involved in the war it looks like WWII basically passed over Norway, in the European theater only Denmark & Luxembourg had lower civilian/military totals as far as casualties are concerned. But it was really a very, very important battleground.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ies_by_country
#12
Old 02-07-2004, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snooooopy
Mounted on merchantmen? How light were these guns, exactly? The size of a Stinger or a Blowpipe?
Good question, for which I don't have an answer. Naval historian Dopers? I know they were much the same guns as those mounted on British merchantmen (coming from the same source), if that's any help.
#13
Old 02-07-2004, 12:27 PM
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British merchantmen certainly had weapons as large as 4" mounted, these were unenclosed single barrel weapons.

It would not be at all difficult to put sponsons onboard for this purpose.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/annemariepurnell/dems.html

I also know that they had Bofors and Oerlikons fitted to them too.

http://liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/m...elfdefence.asp

http://militaryhistoryonline.com...ic/convoy.aspx

Early on in the war very many merchantmen were sunk by submarine guns rather than torpedoes but once these ships were armed and in convoy this changed to torpedo sinkings

Added to this, there were far too few escort vessels available, and so some merchant ships were fitted with guns as were trawlers and sloops to eke out this shortfall.

Here there is mention made of the US 'Liberty' ships, look at the guns on that then !

http://globalsecurity.org/milita...0201-nns01.htm
#14
Old 02-07-2004, 12:44 PM
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Another reason that so many German troops were kept in Norway was the fact that Hitler was conviced that Norway might be the invasion site for the second front. This was re-inforced by the deception methods of the Allies. As well as the fictitious First Army Group under Patton in East Anglia ( pointing to an invasion near Calais ) there was as similar phantom army based in Scotland, the natural jumping off point for Norway. In reality this amounted to a few radio trucks which drove around creating a lot of radio traffic. The "turned" spies also fed false information back to Germany hinting that Norway was going to be invaded.
#15
Old 02-07-2004, 01:28 PM
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Oh ... I thought that a merchantman was, you know, an actual dude, not a ship! It was strange to imagine a dude lugging a big gun around like that.
#16
Old 02-07-2004, 02:08 PM
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Not strictly related to the OP, but I did want to mention this story. One of my, and then my son's, favorite childhood books was this one, about the bravery of the children of a Norwegian town, who placed themselves in real danger to prevent the occupying Germans from looting the town's gold.
#17
Old 02-07-2004, 02:36 PM
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Norway's most important contribution was the merchant navy which was the third biggest in the world and IIRC even bigger in terms of oiltankers.

Norway had a navy and an airforce in Britain which was part of the British forces.
The Norwegian army was supposed to be used in an invasion of Norway and therefore most of it never saw action. IIRC some however fought in the Netherlands in 1945.

Norway did get through the war with small civilian losses but when the Germans left Finland and retreated through Finnmark they burnt everything and evacuated the people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Antonius Block
(Movie) - The Heroes of Telemark (1965), starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris. Although it's definitely an adaptation rather than literal truth, it gives a good feel (IMHO) for what must really have happened.
If you want to see a movie about the heavywater action you should rather see Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water (1948) . Could however be difficult to find.
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#18
Old 02-07-2004, 02:59 PM
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While looking for details on the Norwegian underground's successful work to inform the RAF on the location of the battleship Tirpitz, I came across the site of the Norges Hjemmesfrontmuseum, which has a pretty comprehensive summary of the war in Norway. I can see little to add to it.
#19
Old 02-07-2004, 03:47 PM
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Northern Norway was liberated by the Russians... but the majority of the country was still occupied at the end of the war.
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#20
Old 02-07-2004, 05:18 PM
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Kirkenes was liberated by the Russians but for the 1000km between Kirkenes and Tromsø the Germans burnt everything and evacuated everyone.
#21
Old 02-08-2004, 02:22 AM
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Sundry comments: Norway & Nobel Prizes

As is probably well know to the Teeming Millions, the Nobel Peace Prizes have always been awarded by five Norwegian judges.
In 1935, a German pacifist journalist named Carl von Ossietzky exposed Hitler's secret rearmament. The Norwegian judges recognized this by selecting von Ossietzky to receive the Peace Prize for that year; the Nazis responded by throwing the journalist into a concentration camp, where he died from tuberculousis.
And when the Nazis invaded Norway, they arrested the judges who had chosen Ossietzky.
A famous Norwegian writer named Knut Hamsun had won a Nobel Prize in literature for his book Hunger. After the Quislingites took over Norway, Hamsun sided with the invaders. Norwegians were so outraged by the writer's treason that they shipped copies of his books back to his home town--forcing the little post office in the town to hire temporary employees to handle the flood of Hamsun's books. I know Quisling hismelf was executed; I have no idea what happened to Hamsun.
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#22
Old 02-08-2004, 02:44 AM
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There's a book by Richard Rhodes about the making of the atomic bomb which includes specific descriptions of Norwegian sabotage attempts of the heavy water factory in Norway (largest or only one in the world). Germany's atomic bomb research required heavy water as a medium unlike the U.S.A. which used graphite.
#23
Old 02-08-2004, 04:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougie_monty
I know Quisling hismelf was executed; I have no idea what happened to Hamsun.
Hamsun was forced to undergo a psychiatric examination, which concluded that Hamsun had "permanently impaired mental faculties". He had to pay a ruinous sum to the Norwegian government to compensate for the moral support he gave to the Germans. He spent the rest of his life in house arrest at his country estate Nørholm where he died in 1952. He wrote his last book, Paa giengrodde Stier ("On Overgrown Paths") in 1949, where he harshly criticizes the physiatrists and the judges, and more or less proves that he is not mentally ill.

In later years, Hamsun has been somewhat redeemed, it has been said that he probably didn't understand what the Nazis were up to. He even asked Hitler to release the Norwegians (including the Norwegian Jews) from the concentration camps, which enraged Hitler. Hamsun was probably not a Nazi himself, he let his love for the German culture and history, combined with his hatred of the English, cloud his judgement.
#24
Old 02-09-2004, 03:27 AM
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Tom, it sure doesn't bode well for Hamsun--who was 86 at the end of World War II--that he had supported the Germans in World War I as well; and he claimed that in the Second World War, the real enemy was Britain. (Try telling that to survivors of the Blitz!) I really wonder how 'ignorant'--in the sense of lacking in proper judgment--Hamsun was, considering that he was a savvy enough writer to qualify for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
I got the item about angry Norwegians returning copies of Hamsun's books to him, from Try and Stop Me, by Bennett Cerf, 1944; pp. 346-47. The picture on Page 347 by illustrator Carl Rose shows a man stuffing a copy of the book Hunger down the throat of another man, presumably Hamsun, lying on his back on the floor, with a swastika brassard on his arm--and on the wall there is a picture of Hitler with the message in German ,,An meinem lieben Freund, Knut--Adolf Hitler." ("to my dear friend...")
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#25
Old 02-09-2004, 04:07 AM
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As far as I know, you are right about the returned books (my history books has the same story). My assessment about whether Hamsun was a Nazi or not is based more or less exclusively on books written in the last two decades or so, and the authors are probably more distanced from the War than the people who (justifiably) felt betrayed by him.

Hamsun's wife, OTOH, was an active member of the Norwegian Nazi Party.
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Old 02-09-2004, 12:20 PM
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I recall an Olympic figure-skating announcer saying that the sport was rarely practiced in Norway, even now, ever since Sonja Henie showed herself to be a Nazi sympathizer. FWIW, that is.

It might be interesting to know if Hamsun is still read by many Norwegians, despite his fame.
#27
Old 02-09-2004, 01:51 PM
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The nazi rumour started when she gave a nazi salute and said heil Hitler in the 1936 Olympics(I think Hitler was there). This was probarbly more to be liked by the audience then political but it wasn't popular in Norway at the time and wasn't forgotten. It didn't help that she moved to the US and (IIRC) when asked to help Norway after the German invasion she answered that she was american and said no. She became an american citizen in 1941 and helped the american war effort.

But I don't think figure-skating died in Norway because of that, it was never very popular.

Hamsun is still read by many in Norway, it is also usual to read some of his books in school.
#28
Old 02-09-2004, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom P.
As far as I know, you are right about the returned books (my history books has the same story). My assessment about whether Hamsun was a Nazi or not is based more or less exclusively on books written in the last two decades or so, and the authors are probably more distanced from the War than the people who (justifiably) felt betrayed by him.

Hamsun's wife, OTOH, was an active member of the Norwegian Nazi Party.
That doesn't say much for her, Tom.
That is quite a lot more serious than the fact that Mary Todd's brother was a surgeon in the Confederate Army when Lincoln was president. When was the Norwegian Nazi party organized?
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#29
Old 02-09-2004, 02:59 PM
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There's a grain of truth in Hamsun's allegations that Britain was an enemy. Prior to the German invasion the some British leaders suggested the possibility of occupying Norway. Winston Churchill was among the Conservatives who supported moving troops into the region to help Finland fight the Soviets. Sweden and Norway refused permission for the British to move troops through their countries, and the British and French considered the idea of doing it anyway.

Once Finland surrendered, Churchill still advocated mining Norwegan territorial waters, and apparently the British prepared an expeditionary force to support that operation should the Norwegians protest. That might help explain how they managed to deploy a brigade in Narvik less than a week after the German invasion.

Hitler's directive which kicked off planning for the operation suggests that he thought the British intended to occupy Norway and/or Sweden, but he's not the most trustworthy source. Admiral Erich Raeder expressed an interest in Norwegian bases in October of 1939.

Britain and later the United States actually did occupy Iceland shortly thereafter. I don't know how much consultation they had with Iceland of the Danish government-in-exile before they did it.

I certainly don't want to come across as some sort of crazy-ass Nazi, but there does seem to be some evidence that an invasion of Norway was eyeballed by both the Germans and the British.
#30
Old 02-09-2004, 06:21 PM
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Some individual Norwegians volunteered for the SS:


http://earthstation1.com/Warpost...m/gwwii047.jpg

If I had to guess, I would think that most did so to get out of boring lives, rather than from any devotion to the Nazi ideal.
#31
Old 02-09-2004, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougie_monty
When was the Norwegian Nazi party organized?
Nasjonal Samling (National Union) was founded in 1933 and actually had several representatives in the Norwegian parliament even before the war. (Not exactly a shining element of our political history). In April 1940, on the same day as the invasion of Norway, Quisling seized power and NS became the only legal political party in Norway. The king and the real government fled to England and led the Norwegian forces from there.

Membership in NS became mandatory for some groups, such as law enforcement and teachers. Those who didn't agree were imprisoned. Because of this, several of those listed as members probably wasn't Nazis and was given lighter sentences at the end of the war (The government in exile made NS membership illegal).

For more about Quisling himself, there is a Wikipedia site, which also includes some history.
#32
Old 02-10-2004, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zimaane
Some individual Norwegians volunteered for the SS:
http://earthstation1.com/Warpost...m/gwwii047.jpg

If I had to guess, I would think that most did so to get out of boring lives, rather than from any devotion to the Nazi ideal.
Norwegians joined SS for three main reasons:
Some were nazis
Some wanted to help Finland ( and may have been promised that they would fight in Finland but I can't remeber right now, I know some fought for Finland but most ended up in SS Viking and fought for the Germans)
Some wanted to fight communism thinking that communism was more dangerous then nazism.

SS Viking was a frontline unit and AFAIK did not directly take part in the holocaust but were probarbly no better then any German or Russian unit on the eastern front in following the rules of war. Most if not all volunteers knew nothing about the holocaust when they joined.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom P.
Nasjonal Samling (National Union) was founded in 1933 and actually had several representatives in the Norwegian parliament even before the war.
NS never had a representative in the parlament.
#33
Old 02-10-2004, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barks' dog food
NS never had a representative in the parlament.
He is right, I was wrong. I stand corrected. I thought they had representatives because Quisling was part of a government before the war (Minister of Defense), but he was a member of a different party ("The Farmers' Party") at that time. This was, of course, before NS was founded.
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