HT 1995



SUMMARY

The Norwegian Coronation of Erik the Pomeranian

After Queen Margaret's victory at the battle of Falköping in 1389, Norway, Denmark and Sweden were de facto united. Her rule, however, has been viewed as more than a personal union. The Treaty of Kalmar, signed in connection with the coronation of Erik the Pomeranian in 1397, stated that all three countries should be united forever under a common king to be elected by a common electoral council. They were to pursue a common foreign policy and were obliged to support any of the parties in war. The treaty, however, was not issued as stated in the document. Moreover, only a few Norwegians attended the coronation, none of them from the episcopate. Only three Norwegians were mentioned in the corroboratio of the treaty, and it is unlikely that any of them stamped their seals on it.

The article is a short review of the modem debate on the Nordic union, with an emphasis on the questions relating to Norway. The Norwegian nationalistic historians of the 19th century considered the union as never being legally valid, because of the Norwegian resistance to it. Although their view is generally considered invalid, no alternative explanation of the sparse Norwegian presence at Kalmar or the absence of the bishops has been convincingly put forward.

In a note from Richard 11 to Queen Margaret on I April 1393 throwing new light on the enigma, the English King congratulates Queen Margaret on her recent success. With reference

to the coronation of the son of the Pomeranian Duke as King of Norway, he had taken into consideration her request that he find a suitable bride for him. This letter and other sources indicate that Margaret and Richard 11 negotiated an alliance during these years. Although King Richard's note is from a formulary, not the original letter, there can be no doubt of its authenticity.

Terminus ante quem of Erik's coronation is 1 April 1393. The Queen's ambassador Svein Stalfot, a member of the Norwegian capella regis, broke the news verbally when presenting his credentials to Richard II. The Norwegians swore allegiance to Erik as Norwegian King in the late summer of 1389 and the Norwegian coronation could have taken place in this connection. There was at least one more Norwegian delegation to Richard U's court after the hailing of Erik in 1389 and before April 1393, to negotiate the above-mentioned Norwegian-English alliance, but neither seems to have notified the English King of the coronation. Moreover, there is no indication of the Queen and Erik the Pomeranian having stayed in Norway between the hailing and the Council of 29 March 1392. The royal entourage must have arrived in Norway after 18 February 1392, which is terminus past quem of the coronation.

In Norway before 1450, a king was constituted by the hailing, not the coronation. Nevertheless, several medieval kings were crowned as well as being hailed. This article establishes the typical medieval Norwegian coronation, excluding the ordo. An ideal coronation took place on a day when the archbishop was allowed to wear his pallium. The ceremony was held in the cathedral in the capital, not at the grave of St. Olaf. The coronator was the highest-ranking ecclesiastic present. Great festivities were part of the event, with the clerical and lay aristocracy taking part, as well as farmers, merchants, townspeople, and guests from abroad. The coronation was also combined with an important legislative meeting and/or a royal wedding, and the event culminated in gifts being offered by the crowned king.

The coronation of Erik the Pomeranian was probably combined with the council meeting in Oslo in the spring of 1392. From the typology, 14 April 1392, Easter Sunday is suggested as a likely day for the ceremony. A decree from the council meeting was written by the Norwegian Chancellor Arne Sigurdsson, who was probably in the Queen's retinue during the winter of 1391/92. The decree is the only source identifying those in attendance at the coronation - five bishops, thirteen nobles, the Chancellor and possibly two unidentified chancery clerks from Sweden and Denmark. Beyond reasonable doubt, Archbishop Vinald was the coronator. The coronation took place at a meeting of great significance, as the Norwegian Council never again met separately in Norway during Queen Margaret's lifetime. There are no sources concerning gifts in connection with the coronation, apart from the King, still a minor, confirming a fief, formerly given by Margaret, but nobody received the accolade.

The Norwegian coronation of Erik the Pomeranian, which was an ecclesiastic consecration to the kingdom, explains why there were no bishops and few Norwegian laymen present in Kalmar in 1397. Those who were present attended as foreign guests with the ambition of being knighted. The Norwegian Chancellor had been in the retinue of Margaret, and participated in the negotiations on the union treaty as a member of the royal negotiating team. The bishop of Orkney, who was English, had been newly invested and was to present his credentials to the Queen. The coronation document stated that the King's coronation over the three states had been fulfilled. This indicates that the event in Kalmar was considered as a part of a political process which had started with the election of Margaret in Denmark in 1387 and continued with her election in Norway and Sweden. The Norwegian Council's declaration of the Norwegian hereditary succession as issuing from Margaret's descendants in the future, and the Norwegian coronation of Erik are events which gave her a solid power base in her struggle for hereditary royal power throughout Scandinavia. The Council's conception of Norway as a hereditary monarchy, Norway's weak councillary traditions, and the advantage of collaboration with the King enjoyed by the nobility in the past do not contravene a constitutional law aspiring to royal absolutism (regimen regale), as set out in the coronation document from Kalmar. The Norwegian resistance to the Nordic union is a phenomenon of the 19th century. The coronation of Erik the Pomeranian in Norway shows that the later coronation in Kalmar is a Swedish-Danish event and a step in the process of establishing the union. The Norwegian coronation is also significant in showing that Norway played a more vital part in the creation of the Nordic union than has been generally acknowledged.

Eldbjørg Haug




The Faroe Islands and Norway. A Thousand Year Old Connection's Beginning, Course and End.

In this article an effort has been made to explain the historical and political relations between the Farce Islands and Norway. Also the main sources to this history are presented and discussed.

Norwegian political influence soon made itself felt in the Faroes as in the other islands in the North Atlantic where people of Norwegian descent had settled. It is evident that Norwegian kings already in the beginning of the 11th century tried to extend their power to their kinsmen to the West. Late in the 12th century the Faroes were liable to pay taxes to the Norwegian king who at that time had a special representative in the islands. In 1270 or 1271 a treaty was made between the king of Norway and the Faroese, probably represented by their Lawthing, imposing mutual obligations. In 1274 the Norwegian National Law came into force in the Faroes. By that law the islands became a constituent part of the "Norwegian empire", and relations had been formalised. In 1298, however, special legal provisions were made for Faroese agricultural matters.

Nevertheless, all political institutions were preserved and administered by the Faroese themselves, also after Norway and Denmark, by dynastic accident, were inherited together under one king. The bailiff of the king or of the men who were entitled with the island as a fief was responsible for collecting the royal or feudal revenues.

In the 17th and 18th centuries administrative authorities moved from Bergen to Copenhagen, thus weakening age-old relations. In 1814 no real connections were left between the Faroes and Norway to such an extent that in the Faroes the events of 1814 did hardly concern anybody.

Symbolically, in 1820 the Norwegian Lion was taken out of the Danish coat of arms which had to be redrawn, and the old Faroese coat of arms, the ram, could be set into the vacant place, showing a new political reality.

Hans Jacob Debes




Publication Censorship or the Reintroduction of Censorship in Denmark-Norway 1799

Publication censorship or the reintroduction of censorship in Denmark-Norway 1799

Censorship was abolished by Struensee in 1770 and never officially re-established. In 1799, however, the reigning Crown Prince Frederik (later King Frederik VI) became dissatisfied with social critics like P.A. Heiberg, and issued a new "Decree that more precisely explains and defines the borders of freedom of the press", the main points of which were: severe penalties for abuses of freedom of the press; prohibition of distribution of printed matter before it had been inspected by the Censor (the police); prohibition of all anonymity; only printers with Royal privilege allowed to print.

It has been disputed (and mostly denied) whether this in fact was a reintroduction of censorship. Before 1770 the Censor inspected the manuscript and it could not be printed without his "imprimatur". From 1799 anything could be printed, but the Censor could confiscate a publication before it was distributed, so it could only be read if it had passed an inspection. 1 regard this publication as censorship. Some scholars insist that only periodical publications and leaflets were subjected to inspection by the police, but this is a misconception. The text of the decree excepts "printed matter of more than 24 signatures" (in Danish "ark"), and some seem to believe that this is the same as pages, but in fact it corresponds to 384 pages (in octavo). Authors and publishers were afraid to publish critical books about society and only three were issued in the years 1799-1801, after which there was a quiet period until the start of the struggle for freedom and democracy in the 1830s.

Svend Bruhns




From "popular culture" to "working class culture"?

The essay starts with a reflection upon ways of telling working class history as different kinds of modernization stories, with progress or defeat as its plot, and it connects this to the use of "popular culture" and "working class culture" as general concepts in the same historical literature. Both notions have in different periods been used to express political programs for or against modernization, and both have been used as theoretical concepts in numerous analyses of historical change in modern time.

During the romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries intellectuals started to collect tales, ballads and artifacts from "traditional" culture among peasants and other groups of "the people". Doing this they tried to protect modernization what they saw as original and untouched in pre-modern popular culture. With another program the social democracy in the 20th century tried to modernize the culture, building a new "working class culture", as something different from pre-modern popular culture. Parallels to this "modernization project" can be found in a lot of literature about working class history, as stories of progress. This way of telling history has focussed on change. At the same time a lot of romanticism similar to that of the 17th century can be found in history written about the working class, especially when the subject is everyday life. This kind of history has focussed more on continuity. But both perspectives are often built upon very simple and dichotomous pictures of modernization.

Concepts like this are easily criticized. But the argument is here going further, into a kind of deconstruction of conventional ways of telling also about continuity in working class history. What does it mean when we talk about continuity in historical processes? This is a question being elucidated here with examples from well known historical situations when new groups of workers emerged during the period of industrialization: when young girls became maids in rich mens houses, and later wives in working class families; when unskilled workers protested against industrial discipline; when workers in the cities continued to feed their own pig and grow their own potato; when workers living far from country life, still for generations could dream about "good life" on small farms; when paternalistic relations have emerged in new situations - even today; when customs from old popular festivals were adopted in modem demonstrations on the 1st of May, when workers on the countryside developed modem ways of living even in the forests in the 19th century.

The essay concludes with a program: to understand processes like this in a real historical way, we need to decentralize our concepts. This builds on a criticism against different kinds of centrism within social and cultural history: one is when production and wage work is seen as more "central" than life and work in family and household; another is the tendency to forget that even "small" changes can contain a lot of distinctive cultural meaning, just as much as "big" changes can do; and thirdly against centrist ways of talking about modernization, with one universal concept of modernity. Different cultures can be modern in different ways. That concerns our understanding of cultural diversities within the working class, as well as other subjects in cultural history.

Ingar Kaldal




Wartime behaviour

From October 1916 to October 1917 Bjørkaasen Gruber (pyrites and copper), Norway, was officially owned by a Swedish firm, but in reality it was German-owned. In the spring of 1917 the German owner was behind an initiative to make the mining company part of a Swedish holding-company which would also embrace some of his other activities. In both autumn 1916 and spring 1917 the danger of war between Norway and Germany was imminent, and the real owner's plans were intended to safeguard the property against confiscation in the event that Norway joined forces with Germany's enemies. Our study has thus confirmed the hypothesis that fear of confiscation was the driving force behind the attempt to camouflage the real ownership. We have also viewed the owner's measures in the context of the fear of a postwar embargo on Germany. One motive behind the plan for a Swedish holding-company was therefore the provision of a tool that would secure a postwar market for Bjørkaasen and other operations. The Swedes' motive for undertaking the function of Treuhänder was the economic partnership with the German owner, a partnership that included Swedish interests in Bjørkaasen. The fact that the group representing Swedish interests refused to be co-owners in his planned holding-company for Bjørkaasen, but demanded the right to buy the whole of the share capital of the mining company, should be understood in the light of the unfortunate consequences such an alliance would have had for their plans to resell Bjørkaasen.

Rolf Harald Stensland


The Resistance to Moscow's Doctrines: The Conflict between Islam and Bolshevism in Soviet Central Asia

This article focuses on the competitive relationship between Communism and Islam in Soviet Central Asia. The Soviet regime sought to erase the Islamic influence in this region by the same methods as those used in the struggle against the Russian Orthodox Church. The Communist leaders had only a marginal knowledge about Islam, and hoped it could be coped with, in the same way as orthodox Christianity. Experience from the suppression of the Orthodox Church indicated that parishes deprived of their spiritual leaders would more easily give in to pressure and manipulation by the Communist Party. However, this strategy did not succeed in Central Asia. Here, Communism was confronted with a religious system which, as opposed to orthodox Christianity, also regulated social behaviour. Assaults upon spiritual leaders and religious festivals were not sufficient to affect the religious activities. The persecution of Islam did, however, succeed in neutralizing the official Islam, but with unforeseen consequences for the religious life in the region. Sufism was revived and became the spiritual guiding light for the believers. Sufism expanded freely because it recruited new members based on clan loyalty and thereby escaped the attention of the Communist authorities. The dual aspect within Sufism gave it tremendous clout. Its emotional content appealed to the common people, while the more intellectual aspect, which was rediscovered during mirasism, increased support for the Sufi orders among people with higher education. Increased support of Islam generally, and Sufism particularly, combined with the radicalism of this religion, could in the not too distant future lead to a sudden outburst of fundamentalism. This again could lead to conflict between secular leaders and an opposition with a power base in Islam or Islamic movements.

Torbjørn Hustoft



HT 2-1995


Was the Transition from Tenancy to Freehold Peasant Ownership important to the growth of the Cotter System 1660-1850?

It is generally held among Norwegian historians that the transition from tenancy to freehold peasant ownership favoured the development of cotter farming and laid the foundations for a new aristocracy of freeholders. Case studies as well as the legislation in the 17th century, however, demonstrate that the transition to freehold peasant ownership did not appear to be of decisive importance for the development of cotter farming and that this transition cannot be the reason why it gradually became less common in many areas to split farms among new farmers. The numerous economic and demographic crises in the 17th and 18th centuries seemed to give the individual family or land owner several choices concerning who was to take over the farm or how many families were to live on it.

Knut Dørum






With Max Weber towards Year 2000. A review of the secondary litterature of the 1980s and 1990s

The main issues in the recent secondary literature on Max Weber are presented. Weber's "project" was unfinished when he died in 1920, and the interpretions of his writings have diverged. This particularly related to the influences from Marx and Nietzsche, and Weber's own theories on rationality, bureaucracy, charisma, and the rise of modem capitalism. While a convergence of views is emerging in the capitalism and Marx-Nietzsche issues, much work remains to be done in relation to his central theoretical concepts, including his methodological position. Here some particular difficulties are presented by the changes in Weber's own theoretical positions.

Tore Lindbekk




The Unemployed from Marienthal

The article presents the classic study of Jahoda, Lazarsfeld and Zeisel, Marienthal. The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, which was first published in 1933, and was inspired by the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Otto Batter. The background for the research carried out was obviously political: What is the impact of heavy unemployment on the working class? Do they become apathetic or do they become activist? The answers derived from the Marienthal study clearly indicate the first alternative. The study has become famous for its methodological richness, through its use of a combination of written sources, observation and interviews.

In contrast to Jahoda et al. is the study by Safrian based on life histories from the same period in Vienna. People related how they had even enjoyed being out of work, because Vienna with its strong Social Democratic movement and its pleasant surroundings had a lot to offer to young people.

Pål Veiden



HT 3-1995


Frederik VI and Norway in January 1814

Preparatory research for the volume dealing with the period 1720-1814 (1997) in the planned four-volume history of Denmark-Norway 1380-1814 shows that a current Norwegian view (Knut Mykland 1978 and 1987) of that the king reacted instantly to the suggestion of his stadtholder in Norway, Crown Prince Christian Frederik, had to effect a Norwegian rising against Swedish occupation by ceding both Northern and Southern Norway. Another view (Kåre Lunden 1993) is that the king instantly sold out ceding the entire kingdom of Norway for a Swedish offer of one million rixdollars. The first view is inconsistent with the chronology of the sources:, and the second is based on a misreading of the documents. A closer view of the sources indicates that the king's surrender was because of the numerical superiority of the Allied Northern Army (69,000 against the king's 14,000) and a total financial break-down, and that he gave in to irresistible Austrian pressure. It was of paramount importance to Frederik VI that the enemy immediately evacuated the occupied provinces of Holstein and Schleswig. At the same time a Norwegian rising headed by Christian Frederik constituted a grave risk against the survival of Denmark as an independent state. This was the reason the king consistently ordered, misinformed and appealed to Christian Frederik not to effect a rising in Norway.

Ole Feldbæk




The Relationship between Kinsmen, Household and Friends on Iceland in the Free State Period.

In Iceland a family normally lasted for only two generations from its founder, with descent usually reckoned through the male line alone. Thus, the creation of new families was more or less continuous and a relatively rapid process. Icelandic kinship structure placed greater importance on some relationships than others, all depending on the person's power. It was therefore more important to maintain one's relationship to a distantly related but powerful person than to a powerless brother. As a result, chieftains' families generally comprised a greater number of generations than other families. The strength of family feeling was proportional to the family's wealth and power. Generally speaking, the more a family had to protect and defend, the greater the degree of family consciousness.

The law codes required that every member of the society should be attached to a household. Individuals who were not part of a household were liable to punishment - either with a fine, or by slavery or outlawry. By law, a householder was obliged to protect his household, and the codes granted the household members certain rights. Similar rules did not apply to the family group; according to the law, the family was allowed to take revenge only if one of its members was killed. The household was under the protection of the householder, the so-called grið (grid). Grið indicates that a housewoman (griðkona) and a houseman (griðmaðr), persons without their own household, were subordinated to a free householder, who should protect and defend them, as if they were members of his own family. The housewoman and houseman should in return for this protection carry out the work they were assigned. This encouraged unity within the household. In Iceland the household name took precedence over the family name; a person would first be identified with the farm where he or she lived, after that by his or her family.

According to Grágás, it was the duty of each householder to serve as assemblyman for one of the chieftains of the quarter in which he lived. If a householder became dissatisfied with his chieftain, he was allowed to change his allegiance once a year. If the chieftain accepted the householder as his assemblyman, the householder had to acknowledge his support of the chieftain in front of witnesses. In so doing, he also automatically bound his entire household to the chieftain. The household members were thus under the protection of the householder, who was protected by the chieftain.

The assemblyman-chieftain relationship was based on voluntary and mutual trust. The chieftain had to show the ability to wield authority so capably that the householders wanted to be his assemblymen. One of the chieftain's main duties was to support his assemblymen in disputes with other chieftains and their assemblymen, besides maintaining the peace in his chiefdom and settling conflicts between his own assemblymen. The assemblymen support their chieftain according to his wishes, and in turn protected them. The factor that governed the relationship between the assemblymen and the chieftains was friendship. It ensured support and loyalty.

When describing the relationship between members of the same family, the sagas often call them 'friends and related'. It was through friendship that kinship ties were held together; kinship alone was normally not strong enough. It was therefore not unknown for brother to fight brother, or sons to fight their fathers. The reason was that they were not actually friends in the formal sense.

The weakness of kinship is further indicated by the fact that the word frændi was sometimes used to describe the relationship between an individual and persons that were not related by blood, such as a foster-father or a foster-brother. Geographical mobility was high, thus encouraging householders to cooperate with their neighbours, since their actual relatives might be living in an entirely different part of the country.

One could choose one's friends, but not one's relatives. In Icelandic society friends were usually considered more important than relatives. Society however did have an ideology that relatives should help one another, though there are cases where the sagas indicate otherwise. And indeed society presumed that relatives should help one another and work together towards common goals, whenever they were in a position to do so. The problem with this, in practice, was that related individuals were so often bound to non-relatives by ties which were stronger than those of kinship.

Jon Wiðar Sigurðsson




The Progress of the Swedish Steel and the Demise of the Norwegian Iron Works 1835-1875

Why did the Norwegian charcoal iron industry disappear around 1870 an industry that exported high quality iron, sold at higher prices than the Swedish for example charcoal iron? The superior quality was due to better iron ore and good refining techniques. The Norwegian charcoal iron industry produced almost 14.000 tons in the early 1850s, decreasing to 1500 tons in 1870, with only one of the iron works continuing production after the 1880s. This happened at the same time as the similar (but much larger) Swedish charcoal iron industry expanded its production substantially. The Swedish production of charcoal iron grew until 1913, more than forty years after the Norwegian industry had virtually disappeared.

Most of the Norwegian iron works were located in coastal areas and traditionally had also been exporters of timber. As prices at charcoal iron fell, it proved more profitable for Norwegian iron works to turn exclusively to the timber trade one firm later entering the pulp industry. Most Swedish iron works probably did not have the same opportunities to export their timber, situated as they were in the forested inland areas where it would have required higher transportation costs to bring the timber to the export markets.

These differences on the demand side only partly explain why the Norwegian iron industry perished. Although producing a high quality iron, fuel efficiency was substantially lower than in similar industry in Sweden, Germany and the United States. The Norwegian iron works were relatively isolated industrial communities, dotted along the coastline. They had few opportunities to obtain the same metallurgical or engineering expertise as many of their counterparts in the more industrialized countries had, countries such as Sweden, Germany and the United States.

Pål Thonstad Sandvik




When the whale was the fishermen's "friend" and the whalers their "enemy"; whaling off the coast of Finnmark at the end of the last century.

When the founder of modem whaling, Svend Foyn, started whaling in the Varangerfjord in 1864, this quickly created a conflict with the traditional fishery in the area. This was due partly to the whales being caught in fishing-nets, to pollution and so on, but primarily to the belief that whales caused the drifting of fish stocks to the shores, thus making it impossible for the fishermen to catch the fish. The fact that whaling was a new activity in this area, and not least that the whalers came from the more prosperous southern parts of Norway, was in itself provocative to the poorer communities in the north.

The conflict gradually escalated and 10 years after the whaling had started an official petition was sent from Finnmark county to the Ministry of the interior, indicating the harm being done by whaling. As little was scientifically known at this time about the implication of whaling for the migration of fish stocks, Professor Georg Sars was asked to look into the matter. Thus started the process that about 30 years later, in 1903, resulted in a law to ban whaling; a process that involved fishermen, whalers, scientists, politicians and members of government.

Christian Andreasen, representing Finnmark county at the Storting, was the first to introduce a bill to ban whaling and thus to start the first of the many long and emotional debates that were to follow on this issue in the Storting through these years, reflecting regional, foreign as well as party policy aspect.

Regional aspects of this issue was of course related to the fact that while the traditional fishery had been taking place for centuries in the northern part of Norway, the whalers, representing a new trade, came from the southern and much more prosperous region. This was clearly reflected in the debates in the Storting. There was also a foreign policy aspect to the issue; Norway's border with Russia and the importance of the people in these northern parts of Norway remaining "loyal" to the central governments were delicate aspects of the conflict was hinted to by Johan Sverdrup in a debate in the Storting. Fishery interests in northern Norway have always known the close link between Norwegian foreign policy interest and the fishery. Party policy interests were reflected in the close link between the question of whaling and a growing class consciousness in the north, involving fishermen and workers.

It was the time towards passing a law banning whaling, rather than scientific results and political decision-making that led to whaling becoming less and less lucrative to the whalers and to a stop in whaling and eventually compensation - being in their interests as well.

Brit Fløistad




Newspaper ownership not for capitalists?

In 1887 the editor of the liberal newspaper "Verdens Gang", Olav Anthon Thommessen, allied himself with two other men to buy the paper from the printer who owned it. One was a fellow journalist, the other was a businessman, Olaf Madsen, who had become a friend of the editor through his work organizing the liberal party "Venstre". The editor and the capitalist had common political views. O. Thommessen gradually sold out his interests in the paper, during the course of the following 20 years, Olaf Madsen buying the shares. During this period, Madsen had also bought majority interests in another newspaper, "Morgenposten", which was considerably more profitable than "Verdens Gang". Madsen felt that "Verdens Gang" could yield more return on invested capital by following the management recipe of "Morgenposten". After years of discussions with the well-known and highly respected journalist and editor O Thommessen, the governing board in 1910 presented the editor with a dictate: use fewer columns on editorial articles and more on moneymaking advertising. Thommesen fired back by resigning from his job, announcing at the same time that he would start a competing newspaper with the entire staff of the Madsen-owned "Verdens Gang". He also sought support among the Norwegian journalist establishment. Thommessen created the impression that the conflict between himself and Madsen was one between the editor's right and indeed responsibility for whatever that was printed in the paper, and the owner's right or possibility to decide what should be published and printed. According to Thommessen and the journalist establishment the question was whether it was "the head or the wallet" ("hodet eller portemoneen") that was to decide the content of a newspaper.

The conflict had consequences in various directions. A new newspaper "Tidens Tegn" was started, soon acquiring the status and readership of the old "Verdens Gang", which for a decade had been slowly suffocating and finally was sold to "Tidens Tegn". The journalist establishment, deciding to organize themselves to protect their interests in relation to their employers, started the Norwegian Press Association (Norges Presseforbund). The myth that the battle between Madsen and Thommessen was indeed a fight for the freedom of the press was created and it is into this that this article takes a closer look. Was it true that Madsen wanted to dictate what Thommessen should write or publish in "Verdens Gang"? In other words: Was the conflict a battle about editorial freedom? The article attempts to explain that so was not the case. It was more a conflict between two strong-willed personalities, a conflict ably handled by the publicity expert O. Thommessen, and badly handled by the newspaper amateur O. Madsen. It was not a battle for or against editorial freedom. A myth may have been deprived of its 85-year-old life.

Henrik P. Thommessen




The Primacy of Ideology. Norwegian Fascism in the Late 1930's

When Quisling carried out his coup d'etat 9 April 1940, he justified his actions by claiming that he and the Nasjonal Samling (NS) represented the true will of the nation - disregarding the fact that the Norwegian people had rejected the party's services since its very foundation in 1933. When NS still considered itself voice of the nation, the explanation is to be found in the party's ideology in general, and the specific development that the party undertook as a result of the party schism in 1936/37, in particular.

The schism almost ended NS's existence, but a few members kept the organization going until achieving the height of power with the German invasion. The schism, however, profoundly affected NS's organization and ideology. NS gave up its ambitions of becoming a mass party, and instead forming an elite organization through the Kamporganisasjonen (Battlesquad). Now on the members regarded the party as the spearhead of the expected world-embracing national (read: Fascist) revolution that would crush the threat of the Jewish-Communist world conspiracy, together with the western democracies, which in the party's view was corrupted by the Jews and Communists. The old "materialistic systems" - Judaism, Marxism and Liberalism - were doomed by history itself to fade and give way to the new, spiritual and national era. This apocalyptic and deterministic outlook was of course strongly inspired by Hitler's successful foreign policy on the Continent, and the increasing danger of a new world war. The ideological scheme, briefly outlined here, totally dominated NS's political outlook in the late 1930's -hence the "primacy of ideology".

In order to understand Quisling's claim for power in April 1940, it is necessary to bear this ideological outlook in mind; Quisling was merely the executor of history, fulfilling the heavy burden of the selected. In this situation it was of little importance whether the Norwegians acknowledged his leadership or not. Quisling's loyalty went to history and to the people, but in a rather special sense of the word; it was the ideal, the "eternal people" in contrast to the actual, existing people Quisling was obligated to. As he stated during the war: "Whether we are supported by the majority or the minority, we represent the true will of the nation".

Ivo de Figueiredo



HT 4-1995


German War Plans regarding Norway during the First World War

During the first few mondis of 1917 the German Naval Staff completed "Kriegsfall Norwegen", a German plan for war with Norway. The plan was based on a situation in which Norway had joined the Entente; in other words a situation in which Britain gained access to the Norwegian coast. "Kriegsfall Norwegen" concerned Norwegian territory only indirectly - with the possible exception of the bombing by Zeppelins of some towns and plants in southern Norway. The operational orders basically included the laying of minefields, and occasional advances of the High Sea Fleet. In other words the German Army was not participant to the plan.

As a result of the German naval strategy the Naval Staff did not regard the opening to the Atlantic in the same light as it did in 1940. All it saw in 1917 was the entrance to the North Sea. Because the south coast of Norway is geographically closer to Germany than Britain, British naval bases here could be used not only in controlling the North Sea but also in an invasion of Denmark. Danish territory could then he used as a base from which an attack on Schleswig-Holstein could be launched. The Norwegian coast was also important in controlling the exits from the Baltic. The combination of the German naval strategy and the British influence on Norwegian foreign policy created a situation in which the Norwegian position was never as threatened as when Norway requested or was offered British support - the picture of safety in the politicians' minds. That was the only scenario that could trigger "Kriegsfall Norwegen"

Karl Erik Haug.




The Communist Parties and the Stalin-Hitler Pact. A critical view of traditional interpretation

According to traditional interpretations, the non-aggression pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union from 23 August 1939 until 22 June 1941 led the communist parties to take an attitude of benevolent "neutrality" towards Nazi Germany. Only after the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 did the communists engage in resistance activities against the German occupants.

Based on an analysis of Comintern publications and of documents in Moscow archives - and using Norway and France as "case studies" - the author argues that this is an oversimplified view which fails to grasp the complexity of the question. Certainly, the pact did prevent any military resistance by the communist parties. But it clearly did not exclude political-ideological resistance against the "New Order" imposed by the Germans. In fact, from summer 1940 onwards such resistance was actively encouraged and even imposed by the Comintern leadership in Moscow.

In the author's view, the answer to the question of when the communists took up resistance depends decisively on how the term "resistance" is defined - different definitions giving different answers. The author argues that there were clear elements of resistance in communist policy from summer or early autumn 1940 onwards. By the end of the year these elements had grown to reach a real turning-point in communist policy towards Germany. The Norwegian Party was probably falling somewhat behind the French, Belgian and Dutch parties in this development - a fact which produced dissatisfaction with the party in the Comintern leadership.

Terje Halvorsen




Fredrik 6 cedes Norway

On the 7th of January 1814 King Fredrik the 6th had two separate questions to answer. Were he to cede Norway to die king of Sweden to obtain a cease fire, later peace? lf the answer was in the affirmative, were he to cede the whole country at once, against an ascertained compensation, or only a part, the rest later, but with the compensation question left undecided?

Kåre Lunden wrote in his book (1993), like Ole Feldbæk in HT 1995/3, that the king ceded Norway because of the military and financial situation, and because Austria joined his enemies. There is no foundation for Feldbæk's words now that Lunden has contended that the king ceded Norway «for a Swedish offer of one million rix dollars». Lunden held that the king chose the alternative of ceding the whole country all at once because of the assured compensations, i.e. Pommern and the 1 mill. rix dollars which obtained only for that alternative.

Kåre Lunden