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.