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Frigjøringsdagen, as it is called på norsk, is a very important day in Norwegian history that does not receive proper attention because it is greatly overshadowed by syttende mai (May 17th, Norway’s Constitution Day). Frigjøringsdagen is the day that Norway was officially liberated from Nazi forces. 65 years ago on May 8, 1945, Josef Terboven, Reichskommisar (Norwegian commissioner in Norway, who had almost complete control of the country) was forced to accept defeat and hand over makten (the power) to the Allies.
Within one week of Hitler’s selvmord (suicide) on April 30th, 1945, det politiske landskapet (the political landscape) in Norway completely changed. One week seems like such a short amount of time, just a blip on the timeline of the war, for so much to change. On May 5th, the Nazis in Denmark overgav seg (surrendered). That same day, American General Dwight Eisenhower sent a telegram to Norway with instructions regarding how Norway was to make contact with the Allies headquarters. The official military overgivelse (surrender) of the Germans was signed in Reims, France on May 7. Norske flagg (Norwegians flags) were flown for the first time since before krigen (the war). On the evening of the 7th, German Commander-in-Chief, General Böhme, announced on the Norwegian radio at 22:00 that the Germans would be handing over makten.
During the months preceding overgivelsen of the Germans, the Norwegian resistance movement had become quite active. Working with the the regjering (government) in hiding in London, the resistance movement prepared for the liberation. Once word got out of the overgivelse, the resistance movement, known as Milorg (Militær organisasjon), 40,000 strong, mobilised and occupied the Royal Palace, the politistasjon (police station), and other strategic public buildings. On May 8, the overgivelse was official. That same day, Josef Terboven begikk selvmord (committed suicide)by detonating en bombe (a bomb) in a bunker of the Skaugum compound. Kronprins Haakon and his wife Mette-Marit now occupy Skaugum, which is just 15 miles outside of Oslo.
5 days after the official overgivelse of the Germans, Kronprins Olav and the other government prepresentatives returned to Oslo from hiding in London. It wasn’t until the June 7 (coincidentally the 40th aniversary of the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden) that Kong Haakon VII and the rest of the members of the royal family returned to Oslo. It must have felt incredible to regain makt again after 5 years in exile.
The conditions of the overgivelse included immediate arrestation and internment of all German and Norwegian Nazi party members, disarm all SS troops, and send all Germany forces (no fewer than 400,000) to designated areas. As far as the fate of forrædrer (traitors) and samarbeidere (collaborators), they were granted due process trials. In the end 37 were henrettet (executed), 25 nordmenn and 12 tyskere (Germans). 20,000 (mostly Norwegians, although some Germans) were imprisoned. There were many Nazi sympathizers. There were also, as mentioned before, many who fought for the reisistance movement, which I will dedicate an entire post to another time. Stay tuned, and when you celebrate syttende mai, don’t forget to remember this time of year 65 years ago when Norway celebrated frigjøring!