Sweden in World War II - across borders

Norwegian resistance

The resistance in Norway, as in many other occupied countries, began with individuals and small groups of close friends. It also began among Norwegian soldiers who had been forced to lay down their arms, among political organisations, sports clubs, labour unions and others.

The Norwegian communists changed direction after the German attack on the Soviet Union, and began to act as partisans. They also attracted non-communists who wanted to fight the Germans in a more active way. This was often in opposition to the resistance in contact with the Norwegian government. [s46]

In Stavanger on the west coast of Norway, the first resistance activity by the labour unions was to help political refugees from Germany (who earlier had fled to Norway) to escape to Sweden. [s46]

In 1940 Swedish police arrested Martin Hjelmen, who was the first leader of the Norwegian resistance group Osvaldgruppa. On 20 January 1941 he was extradited to Gestapo in Norway. He was executed in 1944. [s03]

One part of the resistance was to spread information to the Norwegians, among others from broadcasts on BBC and messages from the legal Norwegian authorities. From early on a number of illegal papers were produced and spread foremost locally. Over time the information flow grew. Towards the end of the war, among others Swedish newspapers and Norwegian newspapers printed in Sweden were sent to Norway to be distributed in secret. [s46]

Gabbi Sømme was one of the women who were active in the resistance. She was on a ship sailing night from Stavanger to Bergen when the Germans attacked Norway. She managed to get to Bergen on a truck, helped among others with evacuation of a home for elderly in Hardanger, and went back to Stavanger with Norwegian soldiers when the south of Norway had surrendered. She wanted to get to northern Norway where the war continued, and managed to travel via Stockholm to Helsinki in Finland. There she got ill, and then the war in Norway was over. After a stay in Stockholm she went back to Norway, and got into the resistance activities. (In the autumn of 1944 she escaped to Britain on a boat.) [s46]

In the summer of 1941 the foundation for an organized Norwegian home front was laid. [s10]

On 30 November 1942 Gestapo caught the leader of the civilian resistance in the Rogaland area in western Norway. However it was in connection to another matter, and they were not aware about who they had caught. He faked a suicide attempt, got to a hospital, and managed despite the guards to get a few messages in and out. Among others he learnt that another man had fled to Sweden, so during the coming interrogations he could say that that man was responsible for the illegal actions he was accused of. [s46]

The German reichskommissar Terbovens struggle with the Norwegian resistance movements among others resulted in 1,100 military officers and 500 policemen arrested in August 1943. In November 1,200 male students at Oslo university were arrested, and 700 of them sent to Germany for "re-education". [s58]

The military Norwegian resistance organisation Milorg was formed to prepare for the liberation of Norway, and did not engage in sabotage. Among others the Norwegian high command and the British SOE sent saboteurs to act in Norway, and they usually left Norway when their missions were completed (or they had to abandon the plans). [s58]

Substantial amounts of money was smuggled from Britain to the resistance movement in Norway via Sweden. [s58]

The Norwegian resistance also received a number of weapons from Sweden (who among others manufactured weapons), without interference from the Swedish government. [s19]

Those who preferred activist and sabotage resistance, not only inspired by the communists, came to full force at the end of the war. Local leaders had been trained partly in Norway by Norwegian and British specialists and partly in Sweden. Also other Norwegians were trained in Sweden before they walked across to Norway for special tasks in connection with the end of the war. [s46]

Gestapo continued to act against Norwegian 'terrorists'. More people fled from Stavanger to Sweden at the turn of the years 1944 and 1945, among others a woman who had spent two hours in a half-filled barrel with salt while the house was searched. Others were arrested in April 1945, not long before the end of the war in Europe. [s46]

The Norwegian navy also had special groups operating in Norway, among others with the task to stop Germans to destroy harbours et cetera in connection with a German capitulation. One group was placed in Fredrikstad in southern Norway at the turn of the year 1944-1945. This group managed to capture 13 vessels and sail them to Sweden. [s46]

2012-08-28. www.granfoss.se. Text/pictures: Arne Granfoss