Norwegian Collaborationist Forces in WWII
After a period of relative calm in Europe following the fall of Poland, save for minor clashes over the French and German border, Germany opened a massive combined operations invasion of not one, but two Western Countries. OnApril 9th, 1940, Denmark and Norway were invaded by German air, land and sea forces. Denmark offered only token resistance and fell within a few days of the invasion, while the Norwegian armed forces attempted to resist the German attack. The Allies (Mainly Britain) managed to prolong the campaign inNorway by mauling the German naval forces involved, and by sending ground forces into Norway itself to try to push back the Germans. After many fierce battles, the Allied position in Norway became lost due to an Axis invasion of the Low Countries in Europe in May 1940. Although significantfighting had ended earlier in the campaign, the embattled city of Narvik onthe Northern coast of Norway was the scene of some very bitter fighting upuntil the final Allied capitulation in Norway.
Prior to the outbreak of WWII in Norway, there existed only one significant political party that was sympathetic to the Germans. In the same yearthat Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany (1933), Vidkun Abraham LauritzQuisling formed the Nasjonal Samling, or National Union (also stated as Unity).This party was styled after the German National Socialists under Hitler,and came to the forefront after the Germans invaded Norway as the onlyNorwegian party to support the Germans, although the party did not aid in theactual invasion itself (Noted researcher Andrew Mollow states that the NSmay have aided the German invasion, while author David Littlejohn statesthat the NS did in fact not aid Germany at all).
Quislings NS party never managed to gain any seats on local councils or inthe Norwegian Parliment prior to the German invasion. When the Germansinvaded Norway, Quisling assumed power and announced himself as the new leader of Norway. His declaration was not very popular among the Norwegianpopulation though, and one week after his announcement, Hitler askedQuisling to step down. Later, in February of 1942, Quisling was finallyappointed as the actual leader of Norway, being appointed MinisterPresident by Hitler. Quisling continued to serve as the leader of the NSparty after his initial removal from office in 1940, as the National Unionwas the only political party allowed in Norway after the Germansinvaded.
Although The Norwegian National Union Party was the only political partyallowed in Norway after the Germans invaded, even after Quisling wasappointed Minister President, actual power in Norway rested in JosefTerboven – the German appointed Reichscommissar for Norway. BelowTerboven was Higher SS and Police Leader, SS Obergruppenführer undGeneral der Polizei Weitzel. Weitzel was later replaced by SSObergruppenführer und General der Polizei Wilhelm Rediess. Both menacted in the position of controlling all aspects of the SS (and manyother areas) in Norway, under direction from their own commander, HeinrichHimmler.
Quisling and Terboven disliked one another a great deal, and each attempted toundermine the others position and authority within Norway. Quisling attemptedto undermine Terbovens attempt at forming a Norwegian branch of the GermanicSS and Terboven attempted to undermine Quislings National Union party and hisoverall control of Norway.
Quisling had been, prior to the German invasion, a member of the AgrarianParty, the party that controlled Norway. Quisling was a soldier byprofession, and while aiding a famous Norwegian explorer on famine relief inRussia in the early 1920s, he acted as the Norwegian diplomaticrepresentative to Russia. He was later given the position of Minister ofDefense in 1931 for his work in Russia, but only served until 1932 – hewas removed due to poor performance in his position.
Norway can be considered to have been a puppet state during WWII,controlled by the forces of the German occupation and Quisling’s NSparty. The NS was given some authority within Norway and in this mannerformed a great number of formations and units under completeNorwegian control. Although an occupied nation under the direct controlof Germany, Norway was allowed some degree of freedom through the NSparty and it was in this respect that Norway served as an AxisAlly during WWII – although at best a puppet state. The history of itsformations and units is none-the-less an important facet of the Axiscause in WWII.
The Nasjonal Samling party itself consisted of the following sub-sections:
The Hird, or Rikshird, was the Norwegian form of the German SA or StormTroopers. Hird in Ancient Norse indicates a king’s followers, thus “Nationalor state followers” would be a loose translation. The Hird or Rikshird wasformed in 1933 for members of the Nasjonal Samling between the ages of 18 and 45.The total number of members before the German occupation of Norway was verysmall though, around 500. After occupation, membership increased, and whenQuisling became the leader of Norway, membership really took off with numbersfor the NS as a whole between 45,000 and 60,000 in 1943. This success wasironically in part due to the aid of Josef Terboven, the very individual thatattempted to undermine Quisling throughout much of the German occupation inNorway. Hitler had ordered Terboven to aid in Quislings drive to increasethe power and size of the NS. The success of this drive can be seen in theincrease from 6000 in 1940, to some 50,000 in 1943 of the NS as a whole.
In March, 1941, the Rikshird was given police powers, and one year later,in March of 1942, the first armed unit of the Rikshird was formed, theHird Armed Battalion. This unit would later go on to become the Hird FactoryGuard (See below). In 1943, the entire Rikshird became a part of the officalNorwegian Armed Forces along with the Foregarden, the Germanic SS Norge andparts of the Norwegian Police.
The Rikshird was, much like the German SA it was modeled after, a part timeorganization for most of its members. Duty was served a few times a week,apart from the two regular formations of the Rikshird that served withoutpause, the Hird Factory Guard and the Foregarden (Both explained in detailbelow).
The Rikshird consisted organizationally of 7 regiments and a number ofindependent units. The independent units were composed of Norwegian studentsin German schools. The 7 regiments of the Riksherd were as follows:
Members of a specific Rikshird regiment would wear cuff titles, but it is not known if all regiments had their own cuff titles or not. Two examples ofcuff titles are known to exist according to David Littlejohn, and they wereRikshird Regiment No 1, Viken, and Rikshird Regiment No 7, Viking. Cufftitles were worn on the Left cuff.
A Rikshird Officers school existed in Odnes, Norway, and from 1943 produced300 students a year. All instructors at the Rikshird school were formermembers of the Norwegian Legion (Explained below).
A black flag with a gold and red sun cross with upward pointing swords upon the two horizontal branches of the sun cross was used by the Rikshird.Each regiment in the Rikshird that used a flag would also have a specificemblem or the location of the regiment on the upper right quarter of theflag.
The uniform of the Rikshird consisted of a dark blue tunic, dark blue skipants or trousers, brown shirt, black tie, and blue ski cap. A “Sam Browne”belt and cross strap was worn over the shirt, either with or without the tunic. A yellow sun cross on a red background with two upward pointing swordson a black brassard was worn on the upper left arm of the tunic. Members ofcertain regiments (Maybe all regiments) wore a cuff title bearing the name or designation of their unit. This was worn on the lower cuff of the leftarm of the tunic.
The Foregarden was Quisling’s personal bodyguard formation. It was one of theregular or full-time formations of the National Union. It consisted of 150men who spent six months at a time guarding Quisling and his places ofresidence.
Members of this formation wore either service dress or a galadress. The Service dress consisted of a grey-green tunic, ski trousers, andforage cap. Worn on the upper left arm was a VQ monogram that stood forVidkun Quisling, and a National Union eagle with sun cross. The gala dressconsisted of a dark blue tunic, trousers and forage cap with a tassel. A VQmonogram was worn on both collars, and on the upper right arm a silver suncross and swords upon a black circular patch.
The Unghird was the Young Lads Hird, basically, like the Hitlerjugend or HitlerYouth for the National Socialists in Germany. It served as the youth organization for the National Union and consisted of two main groups of youth.The first group of youths in the Unghird were those boys (Girls had theirown organization explained below) from ages 10 to 14 years old, called theGuttehird. The second group of youth was boys from ages 14 to 18 years old,called the Unghird. Once finished with service in the Unghird, a young manwould, presumably, join the Rikshird itself.
A brassard was worn on the upper left sleeve. For the Unghird this was greenwith a silver sun cross with swords upon red, and for the Guttehird, greenwith a brown sun cross and swords upon red.
The Unghird, along with the other Norwegian youth groups, the Unghirdmarinen,Guttehird, Gjentehird, and the Smahird (Explained below) were all knowncollectively as the Nasjonal Samling Ungdomsfylking, or the National UnionYouth Front. membership in the Nation Union Youth Front was declaredobligatory on March 1st, 1941, and all able-bodied and healthy youthbetween the ages of 10 and 18 were expected to join one of the NS youthorganizations. All other youth organization in Norway at the time were thendeclared illegal. The emblem of the NSUF was a gold sun cross without swordson a red background within a green circle.
The Hirdmarinen was the Naval Hird of the National Union, and theUnghirdmarinen was the Young Lads Naval Hird of the National Union (Again,much like the German version of their own Hitlerjugend oriented marineorganization). These groups were organized in May 1942, and according toDavid Littlejohn, seem to have been used more-or-less as training formationsfor recruits into the German Kriegsmarine. A group of Norwegian volunteersthat were members of this organization were transferred to Germany in January,1943 and sent to the training area at Trodheim. The badge of this organizationwas the National Union eagle holding a sun cross over an anchor.
The Unghirdmarinen was a part of the NSUF, as explained above.
The Hirdens Flykorpset
This organization was the Hird Air Section of the National Union. This group was organized in 1942, and it served mainly as a training ground forentrance into the German Luftwaffe, much like the NSFK in Germany itself.(The NSFK served to train Germans prior to entrance into the actualLuftwaffe and the Hitlerjugend had its own form of NSFK designed tospecifically, train HJ members prior to entrance into the Luftwaffe). The first group of trained members from the Hirdens Flykorpset was sent to theLuftwaffe in February 1943. Members of this organization were trained inprincipals of gliding and powered flight. The Hirdens Flykorpset badge wasof a National Union eagle in flight holding a shield with a cross and twoupwards pointing swords with two oak leaves below.
The Kvinnehird was the female branch of the Hird. It was organized much likethe male section of the hird with differently aged females grouped into separatesections. These sections were the Smahird or youngsters for girls from 10 to 14 years old, the Gjentehird or teenage girls Hird for girls from 14 to 18years old, and the Kvinnehird for females from 18 to 35 or 40 years old.
Instead of a brassard worn on the upper left sleeve, members of the Kvinnehirdwore a yellow sun cross on a red circle background upon a white diamond-likepatch.
The two sections of female youth under 18 that were a part of the Kvinnehird were a part of the larger NSUF, as explained above.
The NS Kvinne-Organisasjonen
This organization was the National Union adult women’s group.
Along with the above subsections of the National Union existed the followinggroups, organizations, formations, and units that consisted of Norwegians.
The Arbeids-tjensten was the Norwegian National Union party version of the German Reichsarbeitdienst, or RAD, the German State Labor Service. The RADwas a Nationwide German labor force organized along paramilitary lines anddesigned to be used on National and local labor tasks of civilian andmilitary value. The Norwegian version was designed to for these same purposes,only for use in Norway by the Norwegians.
The Labor Service, as it would translate to English, or AT, as it wasabbreviated in Norwegian, was organized in September, 1940.