State archives release war documents

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Norway’s state archives (Riksarkivet) marked the 70th anniversary of the German invasion on Friday by releasing thousands of war documents online. The documents reveal new details about the resistance effort, the deportation of  Norwegian Jews and plans by Vidkun Quisling to set up a Norwegian Aryan colony in the former Soviet Union.

A painting at the Oscarsborg Fortress depicting the German invasion. PHOTO: Views and News

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Friday that the documents shed new light on a vast array of wartime activity. The newly released documents have never been available online before and many were previously “Top Secret.” 

Among them are written reports of plans by Quisling, who set up a puppet government during the German occupation and is considered Norway’s biggest traitor ever, to establish a Norwegian colony in what today is Russia. When Germany invaded the former Soviet Union in June 1941, Quisling’s government set its sights on a Norwegian territorial “interest area” and even set up a “Russian office” in Oslo.

‘Madness’
Quisling and his supporters started lobbying German officials for colonial rights, on the guise that a white, Aryan Norwegian settlement would justify the Nazi authorities’ settlement requirements. White Norwegians could displace persons “of lower rank.”

The colonial plans never materialized, “and these documents are interesting, because they show how utopias can be cultivated to a degree of madness in a totalitarian regime,” history professor Odd-Bjørn Fure told Aftenposten.

Other documents include photographs and eyewitness accounts of the sinking of the German troop ship Blücher, along with documents from the ship itself that floated to the surface.

Deportation and prisoner diaries
The new online archive also gives access to the 1,419 forms that had to be filled out by Norwegian Jews, who were forced to register themselves after the Nazis took over. Many Jews fled the country, but hundreds were deported to concentration camps in Germany. Other documents reveal how the Norwegian government in exile in London reacted to the Jewish deportation.

Some documents detail the struggle for food and luxury items during the war years, not least liquor and tobacco. While the occupying German forces considered serving fox meat to prisoners of war, menus preserved from special events show that high-ranking German officers were served lobster and chocolates during an annual moose hunt.

Documents now available online also include records from prison camps in Norway, pages from prisoners’ diaries and records of sabotage operations carried out by resistance forces. The documents are available at www.arkivverket.no (external site, in Norwegian).

See also: ‘Never again the ninth of April’

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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