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Norways resistance to the Nazi's

Updated on August 8, 2013

Norway was occupied by the Nazi's near the start of the second world war. The occupation was vital to secure the safety of the Nazi's North Sea ports. Having Norway securely under control allowed the German fleets an ease of movement into the North Sea and Atlantic. Norway was a strategic target as it had Fjords and inlets which allowed the German vessels an element of cover from the British RAF surveillance.

Most of the countries of Scandinavia had opted for neutrality(such as Sweden) or had fell without been able to launch a cohesive counter strike (such as Denmark). Norway has against the expansionism of the Nazi regime, but it was unable to stand up to the might of the Nazi Germany's Blitzkreig tactic. (means lightning quick war). Norway fell to the Germans on the 9th of April 1940 and a puppet regime was installed under a pro-Nazi minister Vidkum Quisling.

Norwegian Resistance at Telemark
Norwegian Resistance at Telemark

The Norwegian Resistance

One of the first tasks of the Norwegian resistance was to help the legitimate and elected government escape the occupation. To do this the resistance fighters had to launch diversions to the west and north of the country to allow the exiles to escape to the United Kingdom. The Norwegian government in exile followed the same style of function as their French counterparts. They like the French where based in the United Kingdom but used their influence and network of operatives to undermine the puppet regime and gather intelligence for the allies. The resistance from the Norwegians against the superior force of the the invading Nazi's allowed a Free Norwegian voice to remain to attack the occupation via Radio and other means of properganda.

Norway's location in Europe

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A markerTelemark -
Telemark, Norway
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Site of the Commando raid

B markerOslo -
Oslo, Norway
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Capital of Norway

The Norwegian resistance were effectively left alone to fight the Nazi occupation. The only real resistance to the unchecked Nazi aggression was Great Britain. In 1940 Great Britain was stretched to its limits fighting in the skies of the UK and trying to feed its homeland and protect its colonial possessions. The resistance could not attack the Germans head to head, instead it had to fight the Nazi's from the shadows. The resistance was quite successful in assassinations of prominent collaborating officials, but did not specifically target the German occupying force as much for fear of harsh reprisals.

One such reprisal happened in the Norwegian fishing town of Telaveg in 1942. A family hid two members of the resistance, but the Gestapo had followed the two freedom fighters to the house. One of the resistance members was the prominent leader Arne Vaeren . When the Gestapo went in shots were fired and Vaeren died along with two Gestapo officers. The Reichskommisar Terboven decided to set an example to the native population. He had every building burnt to the ground, all the locals boats were sunk or confiscated, and all the livestock was taken away. All but 72 of the male population were executed, the 72 were sent to a concentration camp. Of the 72 sent to the camps, 31 died whilst incarcerated at Sachenhausen. The women and children where imprisoned for varying lengths of time, the Reichskommisar had 18 Norwegians who were in prison executed as well for good measure, even though they had no part of the incident.


Between 1940-1944 the allies were very concerned about the Nazi's intentions with the hydroelectric plant at Telemark. The facility was able to produce Heavy water( Deuterium Oxide ) this was a key part of the Nazi atomic weapons project. The French intelligence service in the late 1930's knew of the Germans designs on Norway's production facilities. The Allies devoted a lot of man power and resources to ensure that the Nazi could not enrich enough to commence their programme. The allies tended to launch bombing raids at the factories. In 1942 British and Norwegian forces attempted an attack on the Telemark complex. The assault was a disaster with planes crashing and the combat groups failing to rendezvous at set co-ordinates. Owing to bad luck the British paratroopers were captured, interrogated and then executed by the Gestapo.

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Striking a blow

In 1943 a group of Norwegian resistance fighters trained by the allies, succeeded in finally destroying the production facilities. The resistance were also able to sink the ferry which had all the heavy water the Germans had been able to produce at the facility. The Germans wished to take the Heavy water back into the Reich but instead the resistance put the Heavy water and the ferry SF Hydro to the bottom of lake Tinnsjo. The Norwegian resistance were also instrumental in the locating of the German Battleship the Bismark in Norwegian territorial waters for the British Royal Navy.

The Jews of Norway

Norway had a very small Jewish population at the start of the war and it could be argued that they were not seen by the Norwegians as been totally included in the national way of life. The suffering of the small Jewish population is only just been brought into the light after years of historical neglect. For the first couple of years the victimisation of the Jewish people in Norway was generally ignored. It was only when the puppet regime implemented the Nazi policy of transportation of the Jews to the East that senior members of Norwegian society took note. The Norwegian church became very out spoken in the Quisling regimes treatment of the Jews. The pressure from the church galvanised the opinion of the general public. The Norwegian men who had joined the German military would have returned from the conflict in Poland and would have seen how the Jews were treated in the Warsaw Ghetto. Norway could not protest as much as other countries as it was occupied by the Nazi's and had a fascist ruler in place. From 1942 the Norwegian resistance was more active in trying to save Jews from execution and deportation. It is estimated of the near 2,000 Jews in Norway that by the end of the war nearly 800 had died under the Nazi's.

For a resistance network that numbered about 10,000 active members they did all they could to help Norway free itself from Nazi occupation, Norwegian resistance fighters received some support from neutral Sweden their secret camps trained 7,000 fighters. The resistance could only disrupt the occupying force it could not kill every German they could find as the consequences would have been severe. All the Norwegian resistance could realistically do is maintain the spirit of the Norwegian people.The fact that they disrupted the Nazi's that much and scored critical strikes on the German plans speaks very highly of the Norwegian peoples achievements.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Andrew Stewart 7 years ago from England

      You are welcome Dardia, thank you.

    • Dardia profile image

      Darlene Yager 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you, for this little piece of history.

    • Asp52 profile image

      Andrew Stewart 7 years ago from England

      Thank you, it makes you wonder how people survived under the Nazi occupation. A lot of brave men and women died there and little is said of peoples sacrifice.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Thank you for throwing some light on a much neglected part of the history of World War II.


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