German warship wreckage protected

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The wreckage of the armoured German troop ship Blücher has been lying at the bottom of the Oslo Fjord for 76 years, since it was torpedoed and sunk on the day Nazi Germany invaded Norway in April 1940. Now its wreckage, an attractive destination for divers, has been put under state protection orders, to hinder plundering.

Norwegian defense forces fired on the German heavy cruiser "Blücher" as it sailed up the Oslo Fjord on April 9, 1940, sinking it and hindering the German invasion enough that it gave time for the government and royal family to flee the Nazis. PHOTO: Forsvaret

The wreckage of the German heavy cruiser Blücher, sunk by a torpedo from nearby Oscarsborg on the day Nazi Germany invaded Norway, is now officially under protectin orders. PHOTO: Forsvaret

“What we’re doing today, is shielding a war memorial but also protecting what is actually a gravesite at the bottom of the Oslo Fjord,” Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s government minister in charge of climate and the environment, said as a boatload of dignitaries including the German ambassador hovered over the Blücher’s resting place off the coast of Drøbak this week.

The Blücher was sailing up the Oslo Fjord, full of German troops, in the early morning hours of April 9, 1940 when the commandant at the Oscarsborg Fortress, Birger Eriksen, gave the order to fire. Eriksen realized an invasion was underway and the sinking of the Blücher has been credited with allowing the Norwegian Royal Family enough time to flee the country. Eriksen nonethless was challenged over his order after the war, even though he also emerged as a war hero.

Germany’s ambassador to Norway, Axel Berg, threw a wreath of flowers into the water, under which also lies the final resting place of hundreds of drowned German soldiers. “We know that most divers respect the wreckage,” Helgesen said, “but new technology makes it easier to dive and take things from the wreckage.” The protection order now makes it illegal to dive around the wreckage without special permission, which can be obtained through the Norwegian Maritime Museum.

State conservator Jørn Holme said that weapons, plates and even personal items owned by the soldiers have been stolen from the wreckage over the year, and sold illegally. “It’s very important to secure this ‘wet grave,'” Holme told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

newsinenglish.no staff