Norway during World War II


December 7, 2021

Norway during World War II deals with the period that extends from the start of World War II on 1 September 1939 until the liberation in Europe in May 1945. After the great powers in Europe declared war on each other in 1939, Norway declared itself neutral at the outbreak of war, as during the First World War. The time before the invasion of Norway was marked by a number of violations of Norwegian neutrality from both sides of the war, most of them from the Allies, including violations of airspace, mining of Norwegian waters and boarding ships in Norwegian waters. On April 9, 1940, Norway and Denmark were invaded by Germany; after two months of fighting with some support from British, French and Polish forces, the Norwegian forces capitulated. The occupied land was partly ruled by Vidkun Quisling's government under German control and with an extensive German military presence. The Norwegian mainland was not involved in regular hostilities after Norwegian forces capitulated in June 1940. There was one important exception: The easternmost Finnmark was strongly affected by the fighting on the Murmansk front from 1941, and all buildings in Finnmark and North Troms were burned and the population forced evacuation when the Germans withdrew in the autumn of 1944 after the defeat on the Murmansk front. East Finnmark was then liberated by Soviet forces in October 1944. By the capitulation of Germany, the German forces in Norway laid down their arms without a fight on May 8, 1945. Svalbard and Jan Mayen were not occupied. More than 10,000 Norwegian deaths have been registered, including 738 Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. More than 15,000 Soviet and more than 2,000 Yugoslav prisoners of war died in German captivity in Norway. 11,500 German soldiers are buried in Norway. The material damage was particularly great in Finnmark and North Troms, as well as places that were involved in hostilities after the invasion (including Elverum, Molde, Kristiansund, Steinkjer, Namsos, Bodø and Narvik). After the war, a major legal settlement was reached with the Quisling regime, other collaborators and NS members as well as with some German officials. 17,000 were imprisoned, 25 Norwegian and 12 German citizens were executed. Several thousand "German girls" were arrested and detained without trial. There is still controversy about the basis for and fairness in the settlement.

Prehistory of the occupation

According to Foreign Minister Halvdan Koht, from December 1939 the Allies tried by all means to threaten Norway to join them in the war. He stated that "I believe for my part that England and France would like to drive Norway out of its neutrality and into the war". Koht was concerned that the great powers should not have any basis for actions against neutral Norway. An important background for Norway's independent line was the belief that the British navy would protect Norway from attacks by other great powers, such as during the First World War. Before the invasion, Norway was the fourth largest maritime nation in the world. Britain was an island nation completely dependent on supplies to wage war against Germany, and this made Norway a strategic occupation target in connection with the Battle of the Atlantic to block British supplies and take over Norwegian merchant ships. Prior to the invasion, Norway entered into a trade agreement that made most of the country's tonnage available to the Western powers. In the choice between the major power blocs in Europe, the Norwegian authorities preferred the French-British. On the other hand, Koht said that he felt that the British had set themselves the goal of driving Norway into the war. One of the main reasons for Norway's importance was that Narvik was a shipping port for strategically important iron ore to both Germany and the United Kingdom. Over 40% of Germany's consumption of iron ore came from the northern Swedish mines. Hitler's interest in Scandinavia was initially primarily defensive - to b

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