For 126 years Norway had been a free nation. Her sturdy folk lived together in peace in a rapidly expanding modern nation whose constitution and independence dated from 1814. . . . Two months from the day Germany had started her treacherous invasion of Norway that country was in her grasp. . . . An entire nation, practically overnight, was subjected to tortures as only vandals could apply them. Frances Trevelyan Miller, History of World War II Thomas Nielsen served with the Norwegian Resistance for four years during World War II. The clandestine activities of his guerrilla base, code-named Bj rn West, were interwoven with similar underground activities of the RAF and USAAF, and with the fleet of small Norwegian shipping boats and "self-sacrificing" efforts of a network of individuals in surrounding villages and farms who took grave risks on behalf of the Resistance. April 9th, 1940, was what Nielsen terms the "most traumatic" day in modern Norwegian history the day Hitler invaded and then overran Norway. It had been more than a century since Norway had been at war with anyone. During that summer of 1940, Norwegians were in a state of shock and apathy, confused and bewildered at what was happening. On June 4th, the last of the British forces had retreated from the European Continent at Dunkirk, France. On June 8th, the last Allied Forces left Norway. And on June 10th, the Norwegian ground forces in Norway laid down their arms. Yet, despite the fact that the Germans seemed to be victorious on all fronts, a Resistance Movement sprang up spontaneously among the Norwegian people. And at the end of the war, when this "citizen's army" stepped out into the open with arms and uniforms, they were some 40,000 strong. The courage and determination of the Norwegian Resistance, along with the support of the American and British organizations, had helped to rid the country of the German occupation force of 350,000. A plaque in the Norwegian Resistance Museum in Oslo reads:
In the skies above London,
In the African desert,
In the ruins of Stalingrad
And on the Normandy beaches
Norway was given back to us. Nielsen's story, first published in Norwegian in 1992 (Gyldendal Norsk Forlag), is full of patriotism and courage, typified by the hymn the men of Bj rn West sang:
Fight for all that you hold dear,
Die if there's a need to.