These last weeks we have worked with Alaska on a ww2 project, and this is the text my group wrote:
Norway during World War II
The invasion of Poland the 1. of September in 1939 marks the beginning of World War II in Europe, and by 1942 the majority of Western-European soil was under German ruling.
A German ship was sunk by a British submarine outside the southern coast of Norway the 8. of April 1940, and thus the Norwegian government were alarmed, and started evacuation towards North. The invasion on the following day initially came as a surprise, seeing as Norway had declared themselves neutral in the war. The Norwegian military was backed by French and British forces in the North, however they were outnumbered and unprepared for the sudden attack.. An important thing to note is that the southern parts of Norway were not prioritized, because the government and had already fled north, and the import of iron ore from Sweden to Germany went by railway through Northern Norway to the city of Narvik. Within in the first day of the invasion the Germans took control over big parts of Norway, including the capital, and demanded the Norwegian government and king to capitulate. The king did not obey, and it would be another 1-2 months before the Germans had complete control over Norway.
Even though Norway was under German ruling, the patriotism was strong among many Norwegians. Resistance groups were quickly formed, but were not well organized. In the beginning they mainly printed illegal newspapers, but as the groups proceeded to be more organized, they executed several advanced sabotages, such as “the heavy water sabotage”. Milorg was the main resistance movement in Norway during WW2, and was formed in May 1941 in order to gather the various resistance groups. As time progressed, Milorg became more and more organized. The Norwegian government was in exile in London, and Milorg answered to them. Milorg did not obey direct orders from the SOE(Special Operations Executive), the British government’s organization for organizing resistance groups in occupied countries. However, the Norwegian government had some degree of cooperation with the SOE.
In Norway, several smaller groups under command from London, started to arise. Groups like the “Oslo gang” were responsible for several high-risk operations, such as the sinking of Donau, and bombings of German offices in Oslo. The Milorg groups in Norway received weapons and equipment by airdrops, and to this day you can come across old containers in the forest(mostly empty though). The nickname for the Milorg groups near Oslo became “Gutta på Skauen”, which translates directly into “the boys in the forest”. One of Milorg bases located in Ringeriket, had enough weapons to arm three thousand men. By the end of the war, Milorg numbered 50.000 armed soldiers.
Throughout the war, Milorg groups received weapons, trained saboteurs, and executed a number of missions. However, Milorg was not alone fighting the germans in Norway- several independent groups(though cooperative with Milorg) existed as well, such as the communist Osvald-group.
When the german forces capitulated on the 8th of may 1945, Milorg was given the task of disarming the 400.000 german soldiers on Norwegian soil, as well as arresting traitors and free captivities in the german prison camps.
The Norwegian heavy water sabotage
“The Norwegian heavy water sabotage” is by many referred to as the most important and successful sabotage operation during the entire Second World War. To this date, the operation is used as an example all over the world on how to perform a flawless sabotage operation.
During the World War II, the Germans were trying to make nuclear weapons for use in the war, and they were producing Heavy water, which is needed for the production, in occupied Norway. The Norwegian heavy water sabotage was a series of operations undertaken by Norwegian saboteurs in cooperation with the British special command. The goal of the operations was to blow up the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant where the heavy water was produced.
The first parts of the sabotage were called “Operation Grouse” and “Operation Freshman”. “Operation Grouse” started on 19. October 1942, when four Norwegian soldiers parachuted onto the Hardangervidda to do recon and guide the “Operation Freshman”. “Operation Freshman” consisted of soldiers from the “British royal engineers baton” who brought explosives and were specially trained to destroy facilities in seconds, using explosives. Unfortunately the glider and the airplane that pulled it, crashed about 250 kilometers away from the landing zone. Only a few crew members survived the crash, but they got captured, tortured and executed by the Gestapo.
After the failed “Operation Freshman”, London decided that a new group consisting of Norwegians was to join the Grouse team, and that they together should carry out the sabotage. The new group of men received the codename “Operation Gunnerside”.They parachuted onto Hardangervidda on 16. February 1943, and they meet up with the Grouse team a week later. Before Gunnerside got dropped out, Grouse had to stay on the Hardangervidda 5 months without provisions in the winter.
On 27. February the group started moving towards the Vemork Plant. They decided to cross the gorge instead of crossing the guarded suspension bridge. They walked along the railway tracks leading to the plant, and waited. During the night, they managed to sneak in and plant the explosives. The explosion destroyed the heavy water cells and 500 kilos of heavy water. There were no prisoners, and not a single life was lost during the operation.
Norwegian special forces still “blow up” the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant several times a year as training, walking the same route as the Grouse Company.
Vemork after Grouse and Gunnerside
Short time after the successful operation, the Germans restarted the production at Vemork. The Americans wanted the production to stop permanent, so they decided to bomb the power plant and factories at Rjukan (the city nearby). the 16. november 1943, 700 bombs of 500kg each got dropped over Vemork and Rjukan. Only 18 Bombs hit the targets and 50 Kg of heavy water got destroyed and 22 civilians died during the attack.
After the bombing the germans decided to move the production to germany. The production equipment and the remaining 600 kg of heavy water was put on a ferry to be transported out of Norway. Three Norwegian saboteurs planted explosives on the ferry and blew it up in the middle of the fjord. The ferry sunk with all the equipment on board and 14 civilians and 4 soldiers died.
Now, we have written about Norwegians who fought on the Norwegian side, but we think it’s important to add that there were also Norwegians serving in the German military service during the Second World War.We estimate that there were about 15000 Norwegians who signed up for German army, and about 6000 of these ended up serving on the front. They had various tasks, but the majority of them fought against the Soviet forces on the east-front. They were part of the SS (Schutzstaffel), a German military group, independent from the regular German military. A lot of these Norwegians claimed that they wanted to help Finlands in their fight against the Soviets. The ones who didn't fight directly in the war were for instance working in the concentration camps. We know there were norwegian soldiers present in both Stalingrad, and Berlin- as well as the Warsaw uprising. The most famous norwegian regiments in the SS was “Regiment Nordland” “Division Wiking”, “Norges SS” “Germanske SS Norge” the SS ski force, as well as the so called police forces. Over 800 Norwegians were killed on the east front.
Norwegian concentration guards were mainly found in the Stutthof and Mauthausen concentration camps. They either served as regular guards or had a main responsibility for the Nordic prisoners. There were also several Norwegians who served in the German Red Cross, mostly as nurses. Most of the Norwegians who served in the German forces during the war were sentenced to 3.5 years of prison, for treason.