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Norway too down on Nazi defence: Nobel chief

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Norway too down on Nazi defence: Nobel chief
German infantry attacking through a burning Norwegian village, April 1940. Photo: Bundesarchiv Bild
08:18 CEST+02:00
Norway put up a much stiffer fight against Nazi Germany than it has been given credit for, the historian who heads the Norwegian Nobel Committee has argued, as the country commemorates the 75th anniversary of the invasion.
Olav Njølstad, who until the start of this year was a history professor at the University of Oslo, said that Norwegians customarily underestimated the achievements of their armed forces. 
 
“I agree…that the story of April 9 and the ensuing fighting, has been blackly portrayed,” he told Forskning.no. “A picture has been painted of the Norwegian resistance as being even weaker than it was.” 
 
Norway took 62 days to be brought under full German control, compared to just one hour for neighbouring Denmark, distinguishing it as the nation in Western Europe which held out the longest in the face of Nazi attack. 
 
Tom Christiansen, from the Institute for Defence Studies (IFS), argued in the same article that Norway had put up a stiffer resistance against the Germans than either Poland, which lasted only four weeks, or France, which lasted six weeks. 
 
On May 28, Norwegian forces, with the help of allied forces, even managed to briefly retake the port of Narvik, something Christiansen argued had demonstrated for the first time that Hitler’s armies were not invincible. 
 
“My main point is that Norwegian forces, despite the defeat, achieved something,” Christiansen told Forskning.no. “From a poor base, they managed to lead the fight against the Germans over large parts of southern Norway and Narvik.” 
 
Norway had been almost totally unprepared for the invasion when it came on the night of 8 April, meaning Nazi troops rapidly took the major ports and airfields. 
 
Forces in Oslo successfully repulsed German ships coming up the Oslofjord, however, sinking Germany's flagship cruiser Blücher. 
 
The city was soon overwhelmed, however, when forces flown into the city’s captured airfield, marched through its streets. 
 
Pockets of Norwegian troops continued resisting until 10 June when the Norwegian 6th Division which had led the recapture of Narvik surrendered after allied troops were withdrawn to fight in France. 
 
Norway’s media are today commemorating the 75th anniversary of the invasion by Nazi Germany with a variety of minute-by-minute replays of the events. 
 
Aftenposten newspaper has been reliving the invasion by running a “live blog” similar to those used to cover present day breaking news, only written in a 1940s gothic font. 
 
State broadcaster NRK has been tweeting out the news scripts from its Dagsnytt programme in chronological order. 
 
VG newspaper has published a database of all 11,724 Norwegians killed in the war. 
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