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Norway And The World War 2

3222 words - 13 pages

Norway and World War IINorwegians were surprised and unprepared when Nazi Germany, with its superior military might, attacked Norway on 9 April 1940. The general public, and their political leaders, had believed that Norway would be able to stay out of the second world war, just as the country had maintained its neutrality in World War I. They believed that Norway was strategically on the periphery, protected by British naval power, and thought that Norwegian neutrality was also in the interests of the warring nations on both sides.By Jon AamaasTherefore, the Norwegian government had declared Norway's neutrality when the war broke out in the autumn of 1939. There was a broad political consensus for this stance. The military forces were geared to protect the national borders and hinder violations of the country's neutrality, and unprepared for an invasion. During the first winter of the war, the Norwegian authorities even negotiated trade agreements with both Germany and Great Britain. In February 1940, these talks ended in an agreement allowing Great Britain to charter a portion of the Norwegian merchant marine while Norway was to be permitted to maintain its pre-war level of trade with Germany. In case it proved impossible to stay out of the war, the government of Johan Nygaardsvold (Labour Party) had no intention of fighting on the German side.Neutrality of little valueThe Norwegian neutrality proved to be of little consequence. Strategic interests led both sides to make plans which involved violations of Norwegian boundaries and operations on Norwegian territory. From mid-December 1939, both the German and Allied sides analysed scenarios involving operations in Scandinavia.The Allies planned mainly to send an expedition corps to Finland, crossing Scandinavian territory from the North Norwegian port of Narvik to the ore fields of North Sweden. In this connection, Norwegian harbors had to be secured. The plans were scrapped when Finland sought peace with the USSR on 13 March 1940. The two Allied divisions which had been earmarked for the operation were transferred to France.The Germans' plans were more extensive and radical; they called for the complete occupation of both Denmark and Norway. One of the motives was the German navy's desire for Norwegian bases for the war at sea. The German navy had not forgotten how their surface fleet had been trapped in the Baltic during the first world war, and understood that their submarines could have been more effective with more bases in the Atlantic Ocean arena.The usefulness of such bases was to be demonstrated later on as the sea war developed. In December 1939, three ore ships in the British service were torpedoed by a German submarine off the Norwegian coast. The vessels had been transporting Swedish iron ore, shipped from the North Norwegian town Narvik.German interests were also involved in iron ore transport from Narvik. The western Allies were displeased with the Norwegian and Swedish policies of...

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