On World War II’s first day of invasion of Norway gunners in an old fortress on Oslo Fjord had the satisfaction of sinking the German Cruiser Blücher, killing around 830 of those on board.
While Hitler’s local stooge, Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the Fascist National Unity Party, proclaimed himself prime minister, King Haakon and most members of the government escaped to Tromsoe in northern Norway and remained there while a combined force of British, French, Polish and Norwegian units recaptured the iron-ore port of Narvik.
The sudden collapse of France, however, created a greater demand for the expeditionary force elsewhere. The Allies withdrew, and the king and his entourage were evacuated to England.
Neutral throughout the war, Sweden took in 300,000 refugees. The Swedish Red Cross, led by Count Folke Bernadotte, a nephew of the king, secured the release of 30,000 prisoners of various nationalities from German concentration camps, and the diplomat Raoul Wallenberg played “Schindler” to Jews in Hungary.
But it was also the case that German troops and materials were given permission to cross Sweden, on their way to Norway in 1940 and thereafter when they went on leave. Moreover, Sweden supplied iron ore critical to the German war machine. These are matters which Norwegians to this day cannot easily forget.
Feature image (on top): Luftwaffe JI-52 flies over a damaged Messersmith NF-110 in Norway
Norway at War, written by Tor Kjolberg