On this day in 1940, after two months of fierce, resistant fighting, Norway surrendered to Germany with the last surviving British and Norwegian defenders becoming overwhelmed by Nazi forces. Just two months before, Germany had invaded Norway and succeeded in capturing numerous strategic points along Norway’s coast.
Hitler had issued the order for the invasion of Norway on 1 March under the code word ‘Weserubung’. By invading and conquering Norway, he could use its extensive coastline for control of the North Sea to ease the passage of German warships and submarines into the Atlantic. The control of Norway would also aid Germany’s ability to import iron ore from Sweden. In 1929 Vice-Admiral Wegener had published a book ‘The Sea Strategy of the World War’, which stated that Germany should seize Norway in a future war so that the German Navy of the future would have an easier time getting to the Atlantic.
It was hoped that the Norwegians would be so overwhelmed by the attack that the Government would surrender without putting up too much resistance. Hitler ordered the attack to begin on 9 April and it quickly became apparent that the Norwegian military was not strong enough to fight against such a fierce, dominating opponent. 1,335 Norwegians were killed or wounded, 1,869 British were killed or wounded and 533 French and Polish troops were killed or wounded. The Germans lost 5,660 killed or wounded of whom 1,317 were killed on land with nearly 2,500 being killed at sea.
The speed with which Germany conquered Norway was to set a marker for the attack on Western Europe. Britain’s failure in Norway was to also have major political consequences, with the resignation of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who was replaced by Winston Churchill.