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Susan Green

Nazis Fix Martial Law on Norway

(22 September 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 38, 22 September 1941, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On September 10, at 5 a.m. Stockholm time, martial law went into effect in Oslo, Norway, and in adjoining districts. The Nazi commissioner for Norway had declared a state of civilian emergency.

Thus, some 500,000 Norwegians were made virtual prisoners of the Nazis. Curfew was decreed for 7 p.m. Meetings on streets or in public places are banned. People are being compelled to give up their radios.

The Nazi decree of September 22, 1940, forbidding Norwegians to possess arms, has been invoked. Large quantities of arms are said to be still in the hands of the population and the authorities are warning that death or long terms of hard labor will be meted out to offenders.

Reports from Stockholm state that the streets of Oslo are being patrolled by the police in full field equipment, with steel helmets and tommy guns, that all the approaches to the city are guarded by heavy concentrations of German troops and that no one can enter without special permit.

Since the declaration of a “civilian emergency” on the 10th, 27 Norwegians have been court-martialed, resulting in five death sentences and long terms at hard labor. About 2,000 arrests have been made. It is estimated that 300 leading trade unionists have been put behind bars, and replaced in the unions by trusted Quislingists. Not only labor leaders but everyone who is suspected of not approving of Quisling and who might become a center of resistance is being purged.

Among the civil organizations ordered dissolved are the Boy Scout and Girl Guide organizations: the Salvation Army and the Norwegian People’s Help.

Trade union officials desiring to leave their posts have been forbidden to do so. Workers cannot leave their jobs and must pay their membership dues to the trade unions after these are taken over by the Quislingists. The workers have been informed, it is reported;that they will have to work overtime for every hour lost during air raids – and there will not be any wage increase.

The Norwegian events have had repercussions among the workers in all the northern countries. The Swedish Trade Union Congress, in session in Stockholm on September 11, paid tribute to the two Norwegian trade union leaders shot on September 10 and passed a resolution of solidarity with bott the Norwegian and German workers containing the following significant paragraph:

“We express our solidarity with and our sincere admiration for the Norwegian working classes, who keep faith in our common ideals, democracy and national independence. We regret: that all the ways are closed for a free communication with the German workers, and we refuse to believe that the prevailing violence which deprives others of their rightful interests can find support with the German worker.”

Quisling retorted with a protest and a threat:

“We strongly protest against the Swedish trades unions which found it necessary to hold commemorative ceremonies for the punishment of the Norwegian state criminals. It is an unheard of insult against Germany that the Swedish government did not find it necessary to stop this effrontery. It must clearly realize that Germany does not let herself be insulted without retaliation.”

However, when the death sentence pronounced upon Ludvig Byland, vice-president of the Norwegian trade unions, was commuted to hard labor for life, this was attributed in the reports to the intense indignation throughout the Scandinavian countries.

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Last updated: 26 August 2014