Norwegian politics 

The history of Norway

After loosing their independence during the middle ages, Norway was an integral part of Denmark until Denmark lost Norway to Sweden in 1814. Norway then once again became a country, but in a royal union with Sweden - that is, an independent country but under the same King as Sweden, and as Sweden was much stronger, Norway felt like an appendix to Sweden. A slowly increasing nationalistic opinion for independence grew during the 19th century. As a result the tension with Sweden increased and Norway began an ambitious program of rearmament at the end of the century. This rearmament included modern rifles and field artillery to the army, heavy fortifications along the border, coastal fortifications and armored ships and torpedo boats to the navy.

In the beginning of the 20th century it came to a crisis, and in 1905 Sweden, and King Oscar II accepted a break of the union. In the agreement a demilitarized zone, 20 km wide, at the border. The process of armament continued after that the relations with Sweden had improved, as the first world war began. It included improvement and modernization of the coastal fortifications and modernizations of the navy with light destroyers and submarines. This build up of the armed forces had been a tremendous effort for the small country with a limited industrial base. When the war ended most of the planned build up was discontinued as soon as possible and a slow disarmament began. 

The thirties came with the international depression, which did hit the Norwegian economy hard. Arbeiderpartiet (Workers party - liberal left) came to power. Their attitude toward the military was negative and there were significant cut backs in the armed forces even though the tension grew in Europe.

Pre war plans and considerations

The increasing tension in Europe was not ignored in Norway, and the foreign politics became a hot topic. The tendency in all the Nordic countries was toward neutrality, i.e. to try to try to stand aside when the Great Powers fought it out. There were however many possible levels of the neutrality. Things that were discussed was how to handle actions called for by the League of Nations (against Italy for instance), a Nordic defense union etc. A Nordic defensive league was never really a realistic alternative, with the very differing strategic positions of the different countries. Denmark totally dependent on a good relation with Germany and Finland very vulnerable to Soviet agression. Sweden and Norway had a better possibility to form a defensive allegiance though.

The foreign minister since 1935, Halvdan Koht (Arbeiderpartiet), was a pacifist and strongly opposed to joining any defensive leagues. An opinion shared by Prime minister Nygaardsvold and other leading members of the Arbeiderpartiet. Neither did they want a rearmament of the Norwegian armed forces until it was far too late. The irony in this is that the party with the strongest anti-fascist feelings in Norway also became the party responsible for Norway's inability to resist the aggression of the same Fascists.

Gathering storm

During the winter 1939-40 there were several violation of Norwegian neutrality, and the tension with both Britain and Germany grew. Especially Britain did put a lot of pressure on Norway to stop the shipping of iron to Germany from Narvik, and to allow an Allied expeditionary force to Finland to pass through Norway. In the days before the invasion there came several signs that something dramatic was coming up. The armed forces raised the alarm levels of available forces, but no steps were taken by the politicians to strengthen the neutrality watch. On the 8th of April, very alarming news came from several directions, esp. the mining made by Britain on Norwegian waters south of Narvik, and the sinking of the German troop transport Rio de Janeiro outside Lillesand on the Norwegian south coast. Unfortunately the aggressive stance of Great Britain (which were about to launch their own invasion of Norway) did occupy the Norwegian government so much that the clear signs of an upcoming German invasion were missed or just disregarded. On the 8th of April R. Hatledal, the Norwegian Chief of Staff, required immediate mobilization, but he was turned down.

See also Before the invasion

Submission or War?

9th of April

The cabinet (government) is called to meeting shortly after midnight on the 9th of April, after the news that foreign warships has entered Oslofjord. They meet at the Foreign department.

Between 04:30 and 05:00 Bräuer visited foreign minister Koht at the Foreign department, presenting a list of German demands. Koht presents the note to the Government, which immediately rejects it.

Hambro takes steps to begin an evacuation of the members of the parliament and then meets with the King and government at the foreign department shortly after Bräuer has left. He arranges with the King a royal resolution about holding the parliament at Hamar. The King and government agrees with him that an evacuation is the best and decides to evacuate to Hamar as well.

Hambro then leaves for Hamar by car, to make preparations. 

07:00 The government and parliament leaves Oslo on a extra train, heading for Hamar. Four ministers stay behind to arrange with evacuation of important stores of food, petrol etc and the gold reserve, to deal with military matters and other arrangements.

13:00 The Parliament meets in Hamar. Most members has managed to get there. After information about the situation a new meeting is set to 18:00 to give the government time for conferences. 

The government decides to request its resignation, in order to form a coalition government of all parties.

18:00 New meeting of the Parliament. It is announced that the government has put in a request for its resignation. This is however not accepted by neither the King nor the Parliament, as it is felt that a change of government at this time would increase the already high level of confusion. Representatives from the opposition are however taken as suppliants in the government. The most important decision at hand is weather to take up negotiations with the Germans. A new note from Bräuer, pointing at the hopeless situation of Norway and the standpoint of the Danish (to agree to the German demands) had arrived. The prime minister Nygaardsvold and some other ministers are prepared to reconsider their earlier refusal due to the situation. Hambro and the King among other are against. The majority of the Parliament are positive to renewed negotiations and so it is decided.

19:40 The president Hambro announces that German troops are on their way on an attempt to capture the parliament (see Spillers raid). They have now passed Jessheim. An extra train has been arranged to take Parliament, government and King to Elverum.

21:40 The Parliament opens its session again. Now in Elverum. A delegation is appointed to negotiate with Bräuer. The parliament also authorizes the government to take all necessary decisions without further authorization from the Parliament, until the time it has been possible to once more call the Parliament to session. This is because it is deemed impossible to hold the whole Parliament gathered under these circumstances. Moving from town to town. The session was concluded with the national anthem. This was the last session in the Parliament for five years.

10th of April

Around 15:00 Bräuer arrives from Oslo. He only wants to meet the King. The king insist on having a representative from the government there though, so Koht also attends the meeting. Bräuer declares that the conditions now are harder. Now Quisling has to be prime minister of the government. This condition is not negotiable as it comes directly from Hitler. After presenting the German terms Bräuer returns. After a short conference with the government the German proposal is turned down.