Friday, 9 April 2010

Where they failed

Today, 9th April, is the 70th anniversary of Operation Weserübung, the nazi occupation of Denmark and Norway.

Of the battlefronts of the Second World War, the one in northern Europe is perhaps the most disregarded. Compared to virtually all other theatres, very little happened here. German occupation of Denmark and Norway was swift, and soon lost its global importance when the war was waged by Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. But that does not mean that there was no war at all here. French and British troops fought German invaders at Narvik, a Norwegian port of key strategic importance, and during and after the invasion, at least in Norway resistance was fierce, heroic and effective. The only reason why the situation in Norway remained stable from a German point of view was because Hitler kept an unproportionally large amount of troops in the country to the very end of the war, no less than 370,000. Had these men been at the Rhine or in Berlin in 1945, maybe the outcome of the war would have been significantly different. Against them stood 50,000 members of the resistance - the Milorg. Both numbers are impressive when considering the total population of Norway was around 3 Million.

There is a lot one could write about the Milorg, about Quisling, the Tyskerbarna or Kaj Munk, but the point I am trying to make is a different one. While nazi occupation of Norway was militarily effective, it was in fact a grand failure on another level. Norway played an important role for nazi ideology. As was proved by the Lebensborn project, nazi ideologists believed that the people of Norway were pure members of the Aryan race, only politically divided from their German(ic) kin. The blending of German and Norwegian population was a primary goal for nazi ideologists, to create a pure race that was fit for world domination. From that point of view, there was quite a lot of honour in it for the Norwegians, as they were held to be even higher than the Germans themselves by the nazis.

The Norwegians however would have none of this. The bulk of them would not let the enemies (ab)use them for such perverted ideas, and instead of joining the nazis for their cause, they chose to fight against it. More than three times the number of Norwegians who enlisted to join the German army joined the armed resistance. The propaganda effect the nazis had been hoping for remained ineffective.

Personally, I believe that the relentless resistance of the Norwegians in the war against an occupying force that tried to convince them of their genetic duty of fighting for their cause, is a great contribution to the downfall of Hitler's ideology. It revealed the ethical bankruptcy of national socialism to those looking closely and confirmed that there was nothing, and absolutely nothing right about it.

Check out this great tribute to the Norwegian resistance:

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