May 7, 2013

May 8th - Norway's Liberation Day

The German army in Norway, represented by Captain Hamel, and Joseph Nichterlein at Akerhus Fort outside Oslo, capitulating, and surrendering May 8th. 1945, to Terje Rollem of the Norwegian Resitance.

As I'm writing this, tomorrow is May the 8th, Norway's Liberation Day. Sixty eight years ago, on May 8th. 1945, the war ended for us. The German army capitulated and so, we were free from five years of occupation by Nazi Germany.
It's such an important day in our history! A day that, in all it's sense, never get the public attention it deserves. Or at least, I don't think it does. Let's face it, people today has other things to care about. They never experienced it, and so it's not possible for them, at least young people, to understand how important this is. I'm not saying I experienced this, of course not. But, I do know a great deal about this dark period of our history. I been teaching high school students about this - teachers asking me to come to their schools, guest-teaching them, about the history. I always been a history buff. The reason for it, is because I think it should never be forgotten. Ever. It's just too much sacrifice that will be lost forever, if people don't tell the history to the upcoming generations. That's why it's important to know...

The Nazi-occupied Norwegian Parliament in Oslo, with the swastika flag, and a banner with the words, "Germany Prevails, On All Fronts", spring 1941.

In my town during the WW2, it wasn't really too bad. At least not after the German army had been able to occupy it, and settle down. When they came "rushing" up through our valley, in early April 1940, it was a little bit different. Whole towns was destroyed. Shot to peaces, and burned down. English, french and Canadian allied soldiers, were scattered around, dead, in road-ditches, in fields, basically everywhere. A town that is a fifteen minutes car ride south from where I live, had killed soldiers from the allied forces laying in hundreds in the road ditches on each side of it. I seen the pictures. It's truly a horrific scene. That town was completely destroyed. Not even the church was speared. The towns sign says today, "Kvam, 1940" - because they had to rebuild it, completely...

English soldiers advancing to meet the German Forces in april 1940.

My own hometown also had it's bloodshed. All our bridges was of course bombed. A huge farm was shot into blazes, and burned down. People was killed. Soldiers and residents alike. The German Army was very much superior to what we had to defend our selves with. So, masses of allied troops eventually tried to flee, for the reason to retreet and gather forces to fight them again, when they had done what they could, to try slow them down. I remember my own high school teacher telling me a story. He was seven at the time. Curious of course about what was going on, he had been able to get himself in the middle of the battle zone. He was lucky enough to find a huge bolder rock to hide under. As he was hiding, an English young soldier came crawling under the rock too, scared and trying to hide from all the bullets flying through the air. As my teacher gave room for the soldier, he was unlucky enough to be spotted by a German infantry soldier. The soldier squatted and fired a shot, which went straight into the rock, and blew off a huge piece of it. My teacher didn't get hit, but the English soldier panicked when this happened. He went for it. Threw his rifle away, and tried to cross the road where the Germans were advancing, running as fast as he could. My teacher told me that at first, it seemed the English soldier would make it. But then he saw flashing around his helmet, and head. Bullets! Reflecting in the sunlight. A little second later, he fell to the ground...

My great grandmother is one of the first locals that was killed during the wartime. Her name is carved in on a memorial-bauta rock, in front of our local church. She was in hiding at a mountain-farm, when a German bomber was chased by an English SpitFire fighter plane. The bomber plane dropped it's bomb-load to loose weight and escape, and the bombs hit the barn where she was hiding with several others. A coincidence, with a terrible result.   
Anyway, as I mentioned, after the German's had settled down, and the initial fighting was over,  it wasn't all too bad. As it was not necessary with too many troop's here, and after a little while, those who were left here was mostly put to guard the town, and keep order. Mostly they were stationed on posts like strategical important places, as the bridges, the main roads and so on. Still, of course, we were bound to obey their new rules. Everything about Norway, wasn't allowed. Our flags. Our national anthem. Even walking with a red wool hat, could mean jail, or worse. Because, the red wool hat, was seen as a symbol of the classic Norwegian. And just because of this, many kids especially, demonstrated by wearing them. Tough kids...
Our town's railroad-bridge, in april 1940.
Graves of english soldiers, (and one german), after the battle in my town, april 1940.

Curfew, minimal with food, and ice cream wasn't allowed. As ice cream was a great energy- and calorie consistent food, it was reserved for the German's only. We didn't have much activity of the SS. But, we did have several Gestapo-agents in the town, for a longer period of time. As the Norwegian Resistance had several members operating, and hiding in our close area, and in the town it self, the Gestapo was trying to flush them out. During the last years of the war, they managed exactly that. These resistance-members memorial-stones are in our park-area, down town. Tomorrow, on the 8th. of May, they will have beautiful flowers decorating them.

A very few of the commonwealth war-gravestones, marking young english soldiers that were killed in, and around my town in early april, 1940.

A German artillery/cannon position in the town Kvam, during the battle that destroyed it in april 1940.

German troops advancing in Kvam. This road had, by all it's lenght, killed english soldiers piled up against the fences on each side after the battle...

One of the very few panzer-tanks we managed to disable in my walley during the German advancing war-campaign. This one had it's belt-tracks shot off by an english corporal. The damages you see in this picture, was made by the german's them selves - to ensure it would not end up in allied hands, they stuffed it with explosives, and blew it to shreds...
Norwegian fighter-pilot's checking out the damages on a Hawker Hurricane fighter plane.
One of the larger cities in Norway, that was more or less demolished by german bombs. This is the city Bodø.
German Panzer tank, a "Versuchspanzer Neubaufahrzeug" in our closest city Lillehammer, april 1940.
POW's from the British "8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters" escorted by German Wehrmacht after a battle near the town "Tretten", ca. ten miles south from where I live.
A German Junker JU-52 transport airplane, shot down by allied forces at Dombås, 4miles north of my town in april 1940. Note the soldier in winter-camo at the left bottom of the picture, and the one in the cargo-bay door opening.

When the German Army capitulated and surrendered, we had been occupied for five years. Finally we could use our flags again! We could sing our national anthem, without being afraid of getting arrested, or shot. We could walk outside past old curfew-time, without being arrested, and then tortured by the Gestapo, claiming we were saboteurs. We could again eat real ice cream :)
It's impossible to write what I really want to, it will just be too much for this blog. Too long a story. But that's not really the point either. It's just that the day tomorrow, is a day to remember, and cherish. What we, at the time went through and, what those who fought for our freedom, sacrificed. I've seen the commonwealth war graves. Graves owned by those young men during the first days of this war, that I been telling you about in the beginning of this post. When you look at the stones inscriptions, you see their names. The part, and the divisions they were from. And then you get to their ages. So young. Eight-teen. Nine-teen. Colonels, as young as twenty-one... They never reached home again. Their lives stopped, in my town. I can't even comprehend, how scared they must have been, facing what they did. But they did it! They actually slowed them down. Panzer Tanks! Hordes of top trained villains, with the most modern, and best weapon technology at the time, those young men, equiped with and, by using gun's and cannons that had barely survived the de-militarisation aera we went through after WW1, slowed them down. They didn't give up on us, and so, we shouldn't give up on them. We should remember them, and what they did. That is the least they deserve. Tomorrow, all Norwegian flags will be raised. Speeches will be held, and, hopefully young people today will learn, at least a little bit more. How lucky we are - we have a LIBERATION DAY! We are free. And, so, so many young people, died, to help us out in need, and when our future were at stake. May they all rest in peace...

FREE! At last :)  Flags & Wool Hats.
City of Oslo, may 8th, 1945.
Oslo city, may 8th, 1945. Our, at the time, crown prince Olav, shaking hands with overjoyed citizens. The person in the front passenger-seat with the sub-machine gun, is the very famous Norwegian resistance-fighter, Max Manus. (Youtube link, to the movie Max Manus trailer).
Celebrating! Oslo city, May 8th, 1945.

Oslo city, may 8th. 1945 :)

Have a peaceful, and wonderful day everyone!
Til next time



(Sub-Note: I want to add, to all my readers and followers and, especially since I know I have dear readers from Germany, that even though I write about this part of our history and, about the horrible ways we were affected by it, & we all agree these times were terrible for us as enemies, today we all have mutual love for each other, and respect! The world has changed, as have we with it - it was different times, and a different aera. When we were liberated, and the war ended through out the world, it was just as much a liberation for the occupying forces, as for us who were occupied by them. This is our history! It's in our past - And, We have changed - and learned from it. Just as it should be :)
Best Wishes, Me)

20 comments:

  1. That was most informative. Thank you!

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    1. I'm glad you think so - Thank You for your interest!

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  2. Thanks for publishing or sharing this story!

    Alt for Norge!! Now and Forever!!

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  3. Thank You! Ja, Alt for Norge :)

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  4. Thank you so much for this article. I was a small child of Norwegian descent, and remember well the movies during the late 30's of the German occupation of Norway. Because of this, my father, overage and not draftable, spent endless hours trying to enlist. After wearing them down, and after Pearl Harbor, he was finally accepted. Being from the west coast he fought and became a decorated hero in the Pacific. He wanted to go to Europe, and fight for his home country but was resigned to do the best he could where he was, and he did.

    You are right, there is much said about the many liberations, D-Day, V-Day, etc., but while Norway was always mentioned in the countries occupied by the Germans, not much international news about their liberation. Years go by and we, so far absent from the horrors of that war, let our memories fade of our own former interests. Embarrassed to say, one of those old movies, made during the occupation just showed on our classic movie station, and made me realize that although I remember the final days of the war, I did not remember who, how or when Norway was finally liberated. Thanks to modern technology, a few key words, and my long forgotten question was answered.

    I still have extended family in Norway. Although I do not know them, I do know they were from the Oslo area. I believe I would have cousins but perhaps because of my/our ages, it might be 2nd and 3rd cousins. I lived in Spain at one time and enquired about getting a Norwegian passport on the auspice of being a 2nd generation descendent, but my enquiry went nowhere. At any rate, thank you again for your most formative article.

    E. Tronsgard

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    1. Hi, and Thank You So Much :) I'm honored that you, a person of the generation that grew up during WW2 has so much nice to say about my post. Indeed, we had so much activity in the country during this era, even though Norway is small on an international scale. So much has been forgotten, and all too little is mentioned all too rare. I am a local historian, trying to take care of the history from these times, and pass it on to the young growing up now. If we don't, much will soon be forgotten. History is important, and, especially this kind, must never be forgotten. I'm glad this post could help you bring back some of your memories from this time :) Also, thank you for sharing about your father! The young men, fighting this war, gave us and our world some of the real genuine hero's, and it's amazing to hear that your father was one of them. I will be posting more of this kind of history from Norway as time goes by :)
      Have a great day in Spain :)

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  5. Thаt is really interesting, You are a verу professionаl blogger.
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    1. Hi, and Thank You for the compliment, and the shares! Hopefully I will soon have better time to blog more, as I been so busy the last months, that I unfortunately have been neglecting this private one too much - but I'll soon start up again :) I did have a look at your page, love your work :) Have a great day!

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  6. Great write up sir and thanks very much for doing it and keeping the history alive
    Just one small comment,... I'm pretty certain that the Norwegian pilots pictured are inspecting damage on a Hawker Hurricane fighter plane.
    (pedantic? yes! Forgive me, all British schoolboys of my age know those two planes like the back of our hands)

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    1. Hi! Thank You So Much for the compliments, & also for the correction. You are indeed correct about the fighter plane, it is actually a Hawker Hurricane, and not a SpitFire. I'll correct the text right now. I wrote this post last year, and all though I did fint out right after I wrote this back then, that I had the type of plane wrong, I completely forgot to correct it. Thank You for your great eye, and comment :) Have a great and peaceful day :)

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  7. Hi,

    I've visited Norway once and really enjoyed the trip. Thank you for your wonderful articles. Greetings from Romania. Takk od ha en fin dag!

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    1. Thank You, and I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. Norway is beautiful :) But I really want to visit Romania one day ;) Ha en fin dag videre du også.

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  8. Fantastic piece. Very informative. Tussen Takk.

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    1. Tusen takk, to you as well :) I'm glad you like it! Have a great day.

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  9. Meget interessant. Thanks a lot!

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  10. Thank you so much for your story about the war where you grew up. A friend sent it to me. My Great Grandparents and their family sent war time packages of clothing and food to their relatives in Vestre Gausdal. I know about it as a letter was saved that was sent by a grateful family member to my great aunts in the Village of Rosholt area, Central Wisconsin. These family members of mine immigrated from Norway to Central Wisconsin and I grew up listening to the stories told by my great-aunts and uncles. I try to read every book and article about the war in Norway, and on one of our visits to cousins in Elverum, they took us to the monument nearby where the Natzi's tried to capture the King as he was escaping from Oslo. Thank you again for keeping the stories alive of the allied soldiers trying to help Norway. May we all live in peace.

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    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I'm glad you liked this post, I think it is important to keep this history alive. Norway is a truly small country, and so, not much of this side of the war history is known world wide, as you your self mentioned. That is why I made this post, to reach out to at least a few of those outside Norway that are interested. I'm glad it reached you - May you have a peaceful day in your part of our world :)

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  11. Hey,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I'm researching my dad's time in the RAF and came across your blog.

    I'm glad there are people out there that still remember the brave people of the time.

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