Decision To Invade Norway and Denmark

Page 49

Chapter 2

The German Decision To Invade Norway and Denmark

by Earl F. Ziemke

The German invasion of Norway was a dramatically daring military operation. The decision to embark on the venture was made by Adolf Hitler as Chief of State and also (since December 1938) as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the German Reich. He arrived at it over a period of six months during which the proposal was debated at length in the highest echelons of the German Armed Forces. Hitler's own attitude shifted during that time from lukewarmness verging on indifference to determination. Since the war the decision has been both praised and condemned; here it is presented as an example of decision-making in a developing situation. [1]

Even though the occupation of Norway and Denmark had no significant effect on the outcome of the war, it established a milestone in the history of warfare by demonstrating the effective reach of modern military forces. Although lacking the resources to capitalize on it, the Germans had made a move of potential value to them in the development of a global strategy. It confronted the United States as well as Great Britain with a strategic threat. It brought Germany, theoretically at least, into a position to strike outward from the mainland of Europe toward Iceland, Greenland, and possibly the North American continent.

[1] A more extensive discussion of the German planning and operations

appears in Earl F. Ziemke, The German Northern Theater of War, 

1940-1945, Department of the Army Pamphlet 20-271 (Washington, 

1959). The British and Allied side of the Norwegian operation is 

presented in T. K. Derry, The Campaign in Norway (London: H. M. 

Stationery Office, 1952) and in J. R. M. Butler, Grand Strategy, 

Volume II (London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1957), Chapters V and VI.

EARL F. ZIEMKE, Historian with OCMH since 1955. B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in history, University of Wisconsin; staff member, Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University. U.S. Marine Corps, World War II. Author: The German Northern heater of War, 1940-1945 (in preparation), Foreign Studies series, OCMH.

Page 50

German Interest in Norway

Immediately after the outbreak of war in September 1939, Norway, jointly with Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, announced its neutrality. In that action the Scandinavian states were following a policy they had adhered to consistently, if not always with complete success, since the middle of the nineteenth century. Germany, for its part, on 2 September 1939 presented a note in Oslo in which it declared its intention to respect the territorial integrity of Norway under all circumstances but warned that it expected the Norwegian Government to maintain an irreproachable neutrality and that it would not tolerate an infringement of that neutrality by a third power. A month later, on 9 October, in a secret memorandum on the conduct of the war, Hitler stated that the neutrality of the "Nordic States" was to be assumed for the future and that a continuation of German trade with those countries appeared possible even in a war of long duration. [2]

With due allowance for Hitler's tendency to play by ear, it can be said that the German interest in Norwegian neutrality at the beginning of the war was sincere. For Germany the advantages were substantial. Of the approximately six million tons of Swedish magnetite iron ore which Germany imported annually, about half passed through the Norwegian ice-free port of Narvik. (See Map 1.) From Narvik, as long as Norway remained neutral, ore ships could travel safely in the Leads, the passage inside the numberless islands fringing the Norwegian west coast. The Leads also made it much more costly and difficult to blockade Germany since blockade runners could steam up the long Norwegian coast and break out above the Arctic Circle in waters difficult to patrol. Consequently, in wartime the neutrality of Norway was a significant German asset, one which the British could be trusted not to overlook.

Passive exploitation of Norway's neutrality did not exhaust the German strategic interests in the Norwegian area. After World War I an opinion had developed in the German naval command which held that if the German Fleet had had bases in Norway and had not been bottled up in the North Sea that war might have gone differently for the Navy. It was a return to this line of thought which brought forward a proposal for a shift to more aggressive action in Norway.

In the last week of September 1939, with the campaign against Poland drawing rapidly to a successful conclusion, Hitler and the Commander in Chief, Navy, Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, began casting about for measures to be adopted in case the war against Great

[2] Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (Washington, 1946), Vol. VII, Doc. 


Page 51

[Map 1.]

Page 52

Britain and France had to be fought to the finish. One possibility was to proclaim a "siege of Britain," which would be put into effect by the Navy and the Air Force. In the days immediately following, even though Hitler (on 27 September) announced his intention to open a land offensive in the West before the end of the year, the Armed Forces High Command and the service commands examined various possibilities for the future conduct of the war. On 2 October the Armed Forces High Command asked for the Navy's opinion on the following three: a land offensive in the West, the "siege of Britain," delaying tactics. Raeder opted for the siege of Britain and ordered the Naval Staff to draw up the supporting arguments. [3]

The siege of Britain offered the Navy a decisive role in the war-provided it could be carried out. The Submarine Command had only twenty-nine Atlantic-type submarines; and the Navy had concluded in the "Battle Instructions" of May 1939 that in wartime the English Channel would be completely blocked and the British would spare no pains to close the northern route out of the North Sea, between the Shetland Islands and Norway. [4] Resolution of the first problem, that of the submarines, was a matter of time; the second, how to achieve freedom of action outside the North Sea, Raeder turned to on 3 October. Informing the Naval Staff that he considered it necessary to acquaint Hitler as soon as possible with the considerations favorable to extending the Navy's operational bases to the north, he ordered an immediate investigation to determine what places in Norway would be most suitable as bases and how they could be acquired. He thought that the combined diplomatic pressure of Germany and the Soviet Union might be enough to secure the bases "peacefully." [5]

It was quickly agreed that Trondheim and Narvik offered the best sites, but on the questions of whether they could or should be acquired the estimates were almost entirely negative. When the Chief of Staff, Naval Staff, broached the question to the Chief of Staff, Army, he was told that difficult terrain, poor communications, and long supply lines placed almost insurmountable obstacles in the way of a military operation to secure the bases and that, if it was attempted, the entire war industry would have to be devoted to Army requirements. This would bring the submarine program to a halt, thereby making it impossible to exploit the bases. [6] The Army, having just

[3] War diary of the German Naval Staff, Operation Division, Part A 

(hereafter cited as Naval War Diary) (ONI: Washington, 1948), Vol. 1, p. 

113 and Vol. 2, p. 8.

[4] Battle Instructions for the Navy (Edition of May 1939), in Fuehrer 

Directives and Other Top-level Directives of the German Armed Forces, 

1939-1941 (ONI: Washington, 1948), p. 25.

[5] Trials of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military 

Tribunal (hereafter cited as International Military Tribunal) 

(Nuernberg, 1949), Doc. 122-C.

[6] Naval War Diary, Vol. 2, p. 39.

Page 53

had what it considered to be a narrow escape in Poland, was trying to talk Hitler out of opening an offensive against the Allies in France, and it was in no mood to contemplate additional adventures in Scandinavia. This timorousness, as Hitler saw it, caused him to lose confidence in the Army leadership and later to exclude the Army High Command almost entirely from the planning for the operation in Norway.

In its own considerations, set down on 9 October, the Naval Staff was far from enthusiastic. A base on the coast of Norway, it conceded, would be of great value to the fleet which Germany planned to have after 1945, but until then it could be used profitably only by the submarines. While a base, at Trondheim for instance, would undeniably be useful for submarine warfare, the length and vulnerability of its lines of communication to Germany would greatly reduce its value. Finally, to acquire such a base by a military operation would be difficult, and even if it could be acquired by political pressure, serious political disadvantages-among them, loss of the protection which Norwegian neutrality gave German shipping-would have to be taken into account. [7]

By this time Hitler's own thoughts on the future course of the war had crystallized, and on 9 October he put the finishing touches on a lengthy political and military analysis in which he reaffirmed his intention to launch an offensive in the West. On the same day, in Directive No. 6 for the Conduct of the War, he ordered the Army to prepare an offensive on the northern flank of the Western Front with the objectives of smashing large elements of the French and allied armies and taking as much territory as possible in the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France to create favorable conditions for air and sea warfare against Great Britain and for the defense of the Ruhr. The next day Raeder explained to Hitler that the conquest of the Belgian coast (at the time even Hitler believed this would be the limit of the advance) would be of no advantage for submarine warfare and then, mentioning Trondheim as a possibility, pointed to the advantages of bases on the Norwegian coast. Hitler replied that bases close to Britain were essential for the Air Force but agreed to take the question of Norway under consideration. [8]

[7] OKM SKL, Ueberlegungen zur Frage der Stuetzpunktgewinnung fuer die 

Nordsee-Kriegfuehrung, 9.10.39. Copies of the captured German Navy 

records are in the custody of the Director of Naval History, U.S. Navy 


[8] Denkschrift und Richtlinien ueber die Fuehrung des Krieges im 

Westen, 9.10.1939 and Der Oberste Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht OKW Nr. 

172/39 WFA/L, Weisung Nr. 6 fuer de Kampfuehrung, 9.10.39 in OKM, 

Weisungen OKW (Fuehrer). OCMH. Fuehrer Conferences on Matters Dealing 

With the German Navy (hereafter cited as Fuehrer Conferences) (ONI: 

Washington, 1947), 1939 p. 14.

Page 54

But in the succeeding weeks Hitler, preoccupied with his plans for an invasion of France and the Low Countries, left the Norwegian question in the background. Raeder himself did not return to it until 25 November, when he told the Naval Staff that he saw a danger, in the event of a German attack on the Netherlands, that Britain might stage a surprise landing on the Norwegian coast and take possession of a base there. Two days later, he emphasized the importance of attacks on sea traffic between Norway and the British Isles and stated that it was difficult to intercept ships leaving Norway because they could travel long distances in Norwegian territorial waters. In a conference with Hitler on 8 December he reverted to this problem and stated that it was important to occupy Norway. [9]

In December Raeder also came into contact with Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the Norwegian National Union Party (Nasjonal Samling) modeled on the German Nazi Party. The National Union Party was small and had little influence in Norwegian politics; but Quisling, who had served as Norwegian Minister of War in the early 1930's, claimed to have well-placed contacts in the Norwegian Government and the Army. He was also a protege of Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, head of the Foreign Political Office of the Nazi Party. With Rosenberg's support he had attempted, without much success, in the summer of 1939 to drum up interest in a German occupation of Norway. In Raeder he found a receptive listener, and at their first meeting, on 11 December, he told him that the danger of a British occupation of Norway was great and he maintained that the Norwegian Government had already secretly agreed to permit such an occupation. The National Union Party, he suggested, was in a position to forestall the British move by placing the necessary bases at the disposal of the German armed forces. In the coastal area men in important positions had already been bought for the purpose, but a change in Germany's attitude was absolutely necessary since months of negotiations with Rosenberg had not produced the desired results.

On the next day Raeder recounted these statements to Hitler and took the occasion to review the pros and cons of an operation in Norway. Quisling, he said, had made a trustworthy impression but had to be dealt with cautiously since he might only be attempting to further his own interests. A British occupation of Norway, in Raeder's opinion, would be intolerable because Sweden would then come entirely under British influence, the war would be carried into the Baltic, and German naval warfare would be completely disrupted in the Atlantic and the North Sea. On the other hand, a German

[9] Naval War Diary, Vol. 3, pp. 155, 168. Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, p. 


Page 55

occupation of bases in Norway would produce strong countermeasures by the British Navy for the purpose of interrupting the transport of ore from Narvik. The German Navy was not prepared to cope with this; nevertheless, Raeder believed the risks had to be taken and recommended that, if Quisling made a good impression on Hitler, permission be given for the Armed Forces High Command to collaborate with Quisling in preparing plans for an occupation either by peaceful means, that is, by German forces being called in, or by force. On 14 December, after talking with Quisling, Hitler ordered the Armed Forces High Command to "investigate how one can take possession of Norway." [10]

Hitler received Quisling again on 18 December. Then as at the previous meeting Hitler expressed a personal desire to preserve the neutrality of Norway; but, he stated, if the enemy prepared to extend the war, he would be obliged to take countermeasures. He promised financial support for Quisling's party and indicated that the Armed Forces High Command would assign him missions and turn to him for information as the planning progressed. During the following months Quisling kept in close contact with Rosenberg, furnishing intelligence information and warnings of an impending Allied invasion. In Oslo, a representative of the Rosenberg office and the naval attache maintained close contact with the Quisling organization. The idea of an operation dependent on the support of Quisling and his followers was soon dropped, however, because of the number of uncertain factors involved-not the least among them the suspicion that Quisling had vastly overstated his strength and capabilities and the need to preserve secrecy. After December Quisling had no part in the planning. [11]

Although Hitler may have been impressed by Quisling's apparent offer of a cheap success in Norway, a more significant explanation for his sudden spurt of interest lies elsewhere. A new and serious element had been recently added to the Scandinavian situation by the Soviet attack on Finland (30 November 1939). The Soviet aggression had aroused immediate sympathy for Finland among the Allies and in the Scandinavian countries. Norway and Sweden feared an extension of Soviet influence. (Quisling, talking to Raeder, had said the Norwegian Government would turn to Great Britain for help against the Soviet advance.) Germany, bound by the Nazi-Soviet Pact in which Finland was declared to be outside the German sphere of in-

[10] Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, pp. 54-57. Tagebuch General Jodl (WFA), 

13 Oct 39-30 Jan 40, International Military Tribunal, Doc. 1811-PS 

(hereafter cited as the Jodl Diary), 13 Dec 39.

[11] International Military Tribunal, Doc. 004-PS.

Page 56

terest, adopted a policy of strict neutrality which occasioned a strong wave of anti-German sentiment in Scandinavia. For Germany, the most serious consideration was that Allied intervention to aid Finland could be expected to entail an occupation of Norwegian ports. [12]

While the situation was by no means as dangerous as Raeder and Quisling painted it, German concern for Allied action in Scandinavia was not without substance. Since the beginning of the war Allied expectations with respect to Norway had developed almost exactly along the lines predicted by Raeder; however, the devising of practical means for realizing these expectations had been quite another matter. In mid-September Winston Churchill had presented his Plan CATHERINE, which involved sending naval forces through the straits leading into the Baltic Sea to gain control of those waters and to stop the Swedish ore traffic. Although CATHERINE was rejected as too dangerous and no other plan was devised, the Allies, influenced by the widely held thesis that Germany did not have the resources to sustain a long war, continued to regard Norway, and Narvik in particular, as their most promising strategic objective. With the Soviet invasion of Finland, the moment of opportunity seemed to have come, especially when the early successes of the Finns made it appear that the Red Army was weak. The French Government, eager to draw the main action of the war away from the Franco-German frontier went so far as to think of establishing a major theater of war in Scandinavia and of challenging both the Soviet Union and Germany there. The British, on the other hand, wanted to avoid offering excessive provocation to the Russians, with the result that while Allied hopes ran high it was not until the end of January 1940 that agreement came on the method of attaining them.

The First Planning Phase

In the week following Hitler's first meeting with Quisling, Brig. Gen. Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff, Armed Forces High Command, set in motion an investigation of the Norwegian problem. While the preliminary work was begun by the high commands of the three services, Jodl remained in doubt concerning the future handling of the matter. On 18 December he discussed it with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, presumably on the assumption that the Air Force role would be predominant in any operation that might result. In the course of these preliminaries, preparations were made to assign targets in Norway to the Reconnaissance Squadron "Rowel" (a special purpose unit which was supposed to be able to escape detection from the ground by flying at extremely high altitudes). As late as 2 January 1940, how-

[12] Fuehrer Conferences, 1939, p. 56. Naval War Diary, Vol. 4, p. 56.

Page 57

ever, the "Rowel" Squadron had still not been committed, and the scope of the intelligence missions which had been assigned to the air attaches in Norway in December was still limited. [13]

At the end of December, reporting to Hitler, Raeder again declared it essential that Norway not fall into British hands. He feared that British volunteers "in disguise" would carry out a "cold" occupation and warned that it was necessary to be ready. That his feeling of urgency was not shared in other quarters was demonstrated on 1 January, when General Franz Halder, Chief of Staff of the Army, and General Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces High Command, agreed that it was in Germany's interest to keep Norway neutral and that a change in the German attitude would depend on whether or not Great Britain threatened Norway's neutrality. [14]

Shortly after the turn of the year Hitler's attention was drawn more sharply toward Norway by increasing Allied talk of intervention in the war between Russia and Finland and, more particularly, by a British attempt on 6 January to secure Norwegian and Swedish acceptance of a proposal to allow British naval forces to operate inside Norwegian territorial waters. On 10 January he released to the service high commands the Armed Forces High Command memorandum Studie Nord, which had been completed ten days earlier and embodied the preliminary considerations of the services regarding an operation in Norway.

Studie Nord proceeded from the premise that Germany could not tolerate the establishment of British control in the Norwegian area and that only a German occupation could forestall such a development. As a result of the Russo-Finnish war, it was stated, anti-German opinion was on the increase in Scandinavia, and Norwegian resistance to a British occupation was hardly to be expected. It was also thought that the British might use a German attack in the West as an excuse to occupy Norway. Further work on the study was to be done under the direction of an Air Force general. The chief of staff was to be supplied by the Navy and the operations officer by the Army. From these assignments it appeared that the predominant role were expected to fall to the Air Force and the Navy. The operation was estimated to require about one division of Army troops. [15]

During the review of Studie Nord the Naval Staff once more argued strongly against an operation in Norway. It did not believe a British occupation of Norway was imminent, and it considered a German occupation without any previous action having been taken by the

[13] Jodl Diary, 18, 19, 20 Dec 39, and 2 Jan 40.

[14] Kriegstagebuch des Generalobersten Franz Halder, International 

Military Tribunal, Doc. KW-3140 (hereafter referred to as the Halder 

Diary), III, 13.

[15] International Military Tribunal, Doc. 021-C. Halder Diary, III, 3, 


Page 58

British as a strategically and economically dangerous venture that would result in loss of the security afforded by the territorial waters of a neutral Norway. At the end, Raeder agreed that the "best" solution was preservation of the status quo. [16]

Between 14 and 19 January the Naval Staff worked out an expansion of Studie Nord. Similar supplementary studies were prepared in the Army and Air Force high commands, but both of those services were deeply involved in the planning for operations in the West and, therefore, gave the Norwegian question only cursory treatment. In its study the Naval Staff reached two important conclusions, namely, that surprise would be absolutely essential to the success of the operation and that part of the assault force could be transported by sea using fast warships of the fleet as transports. If surprise could be achieved, the Naval Staff contended, Norwegian resistance would be negligible and the only units of the British Navy that would need to be taken into account would be those which might be on patrol off the coast of Norway, possibly one or two cruisers. A decision to use warships as transports would overcome limitations imposed by the range of the air transports and would make it possible to consider the simultaneous occupation of a number of points along the Norwegian coast as far north as Narvik. [17]

During the first weeks of January Hitler's attention remained concentrated on the plan for invading France and the Low Countries, which he hoped to put into execution before the end of the month. However, after the middle of the month the weather predictions became increasingly less favorable, and on 20 January he announced that the operation could probably not begin before March. With that announcement it became possible to look at the Scandinavian situation in a new light. The delay in the German invasion of France could give the Allies time to intervene in the north, a contingency which Hitler, who had been impatient to resume the offensive since October 1939, may well have regarded as a welcome challenge. On 23 January he ordered Studie Nord recalled. The creation of a working staff in the Air Force High Command was to be dropped, and all further work was to be done in the Armed Forces High Command. Hitler thus killed two birds with one stone, placing the planning for an operation in Norway on a somewhat firmer basis and at the same time giving vent to his rage over an incident that had occurred earlier in the month which had resulted in plans for the invasion of France and the Low Countries falling into Allied hands when an Air Force major made a forced landing on Belgian territory. [18] On the 27th, in

[16] International Military Tribunal, Doc. 021-C.

[17] OKM, SKL, I Op. 73/40, Ueberlegungen Studie Nord, 19.1.40.

[18] Halder Diary, III, 19, 29.

Page 59

a letter to Commanders in Chief, Army, Navy, and Air Force, Keitel stated that henceforth work on Studie Nord would be carried out under Hitler's direct personal guidance in closest conjunction with the overall direction of the war. Keitel would take over supervision of the planning, and a working staff, which would provide a nucleus for the operations staff, would be formed in the Armed Forces High Command. Each of the services was to provide an officer suitable for operations work, who also, if possible, had training in organization and supply. The operation was assigned the code name WESERUEBUNG. [19]

In creating a planning staff for WESERUEBUNG Hitler anticipated the next Allied step by less than a week. After the Commander in Chief of the Finnish Army, Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, appealed for help on 29 January, the Allied Supreme War Council decided to send an expedition timed for mid-March. The French wanted to blockade Murmansk and attempt landings in the Pechenga region, and they talked of simultaneous operations in the Balkans in addition to the occupation of parts of Norway and Sweden. [20] The British plan which was adopted was more modest. While ostensibly intended to bring Allied troops to the Finnish front, it laid its main emphasis on operations in northern Norway and Sweden. The main striking force was to land at Narvik and advance along the railroad to its eastern terminus at Lulea, occupying Kiruna and Gallivare along the way. By late April two Allied brigades were to be established along that line. Two additional brigades would then be sent to Finland. [21]

The staff for WESERUEBUNG assembled on 5 February and was installed as a special section of the Operations Staff, Armed Forces High Command. Its senior officer was Capt. Theodor Krancke, commanding officer of the cruiser Admiral Scheer. On the first day Field Marshal Hermann Goering, obviously annoyed at having been relegated to a subsidiary role in what appeared to be developing as a primarily air operation, had not yet appointed an Air Force representative.

Although it was widely assumed after the failure of Allied counter-operations in Norway that the Germans had laid their plans well in advance, probably even before the outbreak of war, such was not the case. The Krancke staff began its work with very modest resources. German military experience offered no precedent for the type of operation contemplated, and the Armed Forces High Command and service memorandums prepared after December 1939 furnished little more guidance than tentative points of departure for operational plan-

[19] Jodl Diary, 23 Jan 40. International Military Tribunal, Doc. 063-C. 

[20] International Military Tribunal, Doc. 82-Raeder.

[21] Derry, The Campaign in Norway, p. 13.

Page 60

ning. A certain amount of intelligence information on the Norwegian Army and military installations was available, which, while it was useful and later proved to be accurate, was not of decisive importance. For maps and general background information it was often necessary to rely on hydrographic charts, travel guides, tourist brochures, and other similar sources. The limitation on personnel imposed by the necessity for preserving secrecy was another handicap. Nevertheless, in the approximately three weeks of its existence the Krancke staff produced a workable operations plan.

The Krancke Plan for the first time focused clearly on the technical and tactical aspects of the projected operation. It envisioned simultaneous landings at Oslo, Kristiansand, Arendal, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, and Narvik. Control of those fairly small areas, it was held, meant control of the entire country, since they were the principal centers of population, industry, and trade. Moreover, with the capture of those places and their garrisons, the Norwegians would lose eight of their sixteen regiments, nearly all of their artillery, and almost all of their airfields. [22] The operation was to be executed by a corps of approximately six divisions, the first assault wave of which was to be transported half by warships and half by plane. Primarily it would be an airborne operation. The 7th Air Division (airborne troop command) was expected to supply eight transport groups and five battalions of parachute troops in the first wave and thereafter to bring in the 22d (Airborne) Infantry Division within three days. [23]

The Final Planning Phase

In mid-February the Altmark incident gave the first real sense of urgency to the preparations for WESERUEBUNG. On 14 February the German tanker Altmark, with 300 British seamen captured by the commerce raider Graf Spee aboard, entered Norwegian territorial waters on its return trip to Germany. Despite strong misgivings, the Norwegian Admiralty, though suspecting the nature of the "cargo," permitted the Altmark to proceed. On 16 February, when six British destroyers

[22] This method of operation took advantage of a major weakness of the 

Norwegian Army, namely, that it could not mobilize to fight as a unit. 

Because of the peculiar geography of the country, mobilization was by 

divisions, with single divisions-for the most part having no contact 

with each other-scattered throughout the major centers from Oslo to 

Harstad in the vicinity of Narvik. On paper, the Norwegian Army 

consisted of six divisions with a peacetime strength of 19,000 men and a 

war strength of 90,000. But up to April 1940 it had only 16,000 men 

under arms (including 1,800 for air defense, 950 in the Army Air Corps, 

and 300 security guards). The German intention, therefore, was not to 

meet and defeat each one of the divisions on its home ground but to 

capture the main centers before mobilization could begin.

[23] OKW, WFA, Ab. III, Weisung an Oberbefehlshaber "WESERUEBUNG," 


Page 61

put in an appearance, the Altmark took refuge in Jossing Fjord near Egersund escorted by two Norwegian torpedo boats. Disregarding protests from the Norwegian naval craft, the British destroyer Cossack entered the fjord and, sending a party aboard the Altmark, took off the prisoners after a brief skirmish.

The deliberate action of the Cossack convinced Hitler that the British no longer intended to respect Norway's neutrality, and on 19 February he ordered a speed-up in the planning for WESERUEBUNG. On Jodl's suggestion it was decided to turn the operation over to a corps commander and his staff. Lt. Gen. Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, Commanding General, XXI Corps, was nominated for the task-largely because he had acquired some experience in overseas operations during the German intervention in Finland in 1918. [24]

At noon on 21 February von Falkenhorst reported to Hitler and was offered the mission of planning and-when and if the time came-commanding the operation against Norway. The planning was to be carried out with two considerations in mind: (1) to forestall a British move by occupying the most important ports and localities, in particular, the ore port of Narvik; and (2) to take such firm control of the country that Norwegian resistance or collaboration with Great Britain would be impossible. [25] On the next day, after von Falkenhorst had reviewed and approved the Krancke Plan, his appointment was confirmed. Four days later, on 26 February, a selected staff from Headquarters, XXI Corps, began work in Berlin.

The first major question to be decided concerned Denmark. As early as December 1939 the German Army had taken under consideration the question of occupying Denmark in conjunction with an operation against Norway. In a supplement to Studie Nord the Naval Staff had recommended acquisition of bases in Denmark, especially at the northern tip of Jutland, as a means of approaching the Shetlands-Norway passage and of facilitating naval and air control of the Skagerrak. The Krancke staff had assumed that the necessary bases in Denmark could be secured by diplomatic pressure reinforced with the threat of a military occupation; but after the von Falkenhorst staff had been installed it was decided not to rely on half measures of that sort. On 28 February von Falkenhorst outlined a plan to Keitel that included the occupation of Denmark. At the same time, the estimate of troop requirements was raised by two divisions.

On the same day an even more important new element was introduced, one which eventually made necessary a complete revision of

[24] Jodl Diary, 19 Feb 40. Halder Diary, III, 62, 64.

[25] Gruppe XXI, Ia, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 20.2. 40-8.4.40, 21 Feb 40. 

AOK 20 E 180/5. Copies of the captured German Army records are on file 

at the National Archives.

Page 62

the Krancke Plan. Jodl secured Hitler's approval for a proposal to prepare WESERUEBUNG in such a fashion that it could be executed independently of the forthcoming campaign in the West both in terms of time and of forces employed. All of the planning up to that time had started from the assumption that WESERUEBUNG would have to come either before or after GELB (the invasion of France, the Netherlands, and Belgium) since the 7th Air Division, in particular, would be required for both operations. The Armed Forces High Command now proposed to reduce the commitment of parachute troops for WESERUEBUNG to four companies and to hold back one regiment of the 22d Infantry Division. This change and that concerning Denmark were approved by Hitler on 29 February. [23]

Two days later, on 1 March, Hitler issued the "Directive for Case WESERUEBUNG," which set forth the general requirements for the operation and authorized the beginning of operational planning. The stated strategic objectives were to forestall British intervention in Scandinavia and the Baltic, provide security for the sources of Swedish iron ore, and give the German Navy and Air Force advanced bases for attacks on the British Isles. Daring and surprise were to be relied on rather than strength in terms of number of troops. The idea of a "peaceful" occupation to provide armed protection for the neutrality of the Scandinavian countries was to be basic to the whole operation. Von Falkenhorst as Commanding General, Group XXI, was to be directly subordinate to Hitler. [27] Denmark and Norway were to be occupied simultaneously, with WESERUEBUNG SUED involving the occupation of all of Denmark and WESERUEBUNG NORD the occupation of Norway by means of air and seaborne landings at the most important places along the coast. [25]

The appearance of the Fuehrer directive brought an immediate wave of protests and objections from the Army and Air Force. With the campaign in the West impending, neither wanted to divert forces to a subsidiary theater of operations. The Army had not yet altered the negative attitude toward the projected campaign which Halder had expressed on 5 October 1939. Moreover, personal feelings were involved since up to that time neither the Army nor the Air Force High Command had been brought directly into the planning for WESERUEBUNG. Halder noted in his diary that as of 2 March Hitler had not "exchanged a single word" with the Commander in Chief, Army, on the subject of Norway. The Army also objected to

[26] Gruppe XXI, Ia, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 26-29 Feb 40. Jodl Diary,

 28 Feb 40.

[27] In German military terminology group (Gruppe) was used to designate 

an intermediate unit, in this instance between a corps and an army.

[28] International Military Tribunal, Doc. 174-C.

Page 63

troop dispositions being made independently by the Armed Forces High Command. The Air Force protested that the demands on 7th Air Division and other air units were too high.

On 3 March, declaring that he expected Allied intervention in Finland in the near future, Hitler sharply ordered the services not to delay the preparations for WESERUEBUNG by further disputes. (On 2 March Great Britain and France had submitted notes to Norway and Sweden requesting the right of transit for troops which they intended to send to the aid of the Finns.) He demanded that the forces for WESERUEBUNG be assembled by 10 March and ready for the jump-off by the 13th so that a landing would be possible in northern Norway on approximately 17 March. [29]

On 5 March WESERUEBUNG was discussed in a meeting with Hitler at which the three commanders in chief were present. Field Marshal Goering, angry and claiming he had been kept in the dark about the operation, condemned all planning so far as worthless. After Goering had given vent to his feelings, Hitler again stated that he expected Allied intervention in Scandinavia under the guise of help for Finland in the near future and then demanded and secured immediate agreement on the commitment of German forces. Two days later Hitler signed a directive assigning the 3d Mountain Division, 69th. 163d, 196th, and 181st Infantry Divisions, and the 11th Motorized Rifle Brigade for employment in Norway and the 170th, 198th, and 214th Infantry Divisions for Denmark. That disposition of forces was declared to be final and no longer subject to change. Simultaneously, WESERUEBUNG and GELB were completely divorced from each other. [30] The 7th Air Division and 22d Infantry Division were released for GELB. It was no longer possible to contemplate airborne and parachute landings on the scale which had been envisioned in the Krancke Plan.

Meanwhile, the staff of Group XXI had completed "Operations Order No. 1 for the Occupation of Norway," which it issued on 5 March. The order was concerned with the landings and consolidation of the beachheads. Two possibilities were envisioned: (1) that the desired objectives of a peaceful occupation could be achieved, and (2) that the landings and occupation would have to be carried out by force. If the first possibility materialized, the Norwegian Government was to be assured of extensive respect for its internal sovereignty and the Norwegian troops were to be treated tactfully. If resistance was encountered, the landings were to be forced by all possible means, the

[29] Karl Jesko von Puttkamer, Die unheimliche See (Vienna: Verlag Karl 

Kuhne, 1952), p. 31. Halder Diary, III, 64. Jodl Diary, 1, 2, and 3 Mar 


[30] Jodl Diary, 5 and 7 Mar 40. Gruppe XXI, Ia, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 5 

Mar 40. OKW, WFA, Abt. L, Nr. 22082/40, in Anlagenband I zum K.T.B. 1, 

Anlagen 1-52. AOK 20 E 180/7.

Page 64

beachheads secured, and nearby mobilization centers of the Norwegian Army occupied. Complete destruction of the Norwegian Army was not considered possible as an immediate objective because of the size of the country and difficulty of the terrain, but it was believed that the localities selected for landings comprised the majority of the places needed to prevent an effective mobilization and assembly of Norwegian forces and to control the country in general. Attempted Allied landings were to be fought off; unnecessary losses were to be avoided; and, if the enemy proved superior, the troops were to withdraw inland until a counterattack could be launched. [31]

Landings in approximately regimental strength were to be made at Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen, Kristiansand, and Oslo, and landing parties of one company each sent ashore at Egersund and Arendal to take possession of the cable stations. Stavanger was to be taken in an airborne operation. The initial seaborne landing force of 8,850 men was to be carried in five groups of warships. No major reinforcement of the landing teams at the beachheads was contemplated until contact had been established overland with Oslo, where the main force was to debark-16,700 men (in addition to the 2,000 landed on W Day) to be brought in by three sea transport echelons during the first week, with another 40,000 to be transported in shuttle movements thereafter. An additional 8,000 troops were to be transported to Oslo by air within three days after W Day. [32]

"Operation Order No. 1 for the Occupation of Denmark" was also completed although it was not issued until 20 March. (See Map 2.) The principal military objective of WESERUEBUNG SUED was Aalborg at the northern tip of Jutland. Its two airfields were to be taken on W plus 2 hours by a parachute platoon and an airborne battalion. Full control of the airfields and the lines of communication from Germany would be secured by the 170th Infantry Division and the 11th Motorized Rile Brigade in a rapid advance across Jutland from the German border. Five warship groups, consisting of light naval craft, merchant vessels, and the World War I battleship Schleswig-Holstein, were organized to stage landings on the west coast of Jutland and the Danish islands. [33] Command of operations in Denmark was given to XXXI Corps under General der Flieger Leonard Kaupisch.

[31] Gruppe XXI, Ia, Nr. 20/40, Operationsbefehl fuer die Besetzung 

Norwegens, Nr. 1, in Anlagenband zum K.T.B. 1, Anlagen 1-52. AOK 20 E 


[32] Verbindungsstab Marine, B. Nr. 130, Seetransportuebersicht nach dem 

Stande vom 22.3.40, in Gruppe XXI, Anlagenband 5 zum K.T.B. Nr. 1. AOK 

20 E 180/10. Kurt Assmann, The German Campaign in Norway, Origin of the 

Plan, Execution of the Operation, and Measures against Allied Counter-

attack (London, 1948), p. 13.

[33] Gruppe XXI, Ia, 126/40, Operationsbefehlfuer die Besetzung von 

Daenemark, Nr. 1, in Anlagenband 1 zum K.T.B. Nr. 1, Anlagen 1-52. AOK 

20 E 180/7.

Page 65

(Map 2)

Page 66

Since the first objective of WESERUEBUNG was to induce both Norway and Denmark to surrender without a fight, special provisions were made to open negotiations with both governments at the moment of the landings. The German Ministers in Oslo and Copenhagen were designated Plenipotentiaries of the German Reich. At W Time they would present the German demands and thereafter, if the demands were accepted, would keep the Norwegian and Danish Governments under surveillance. The operations officer of Group XXI and the chief of staff of XXXI Corps were named Plenipotentiaries of the Wehrmacht. Traveling in civilian clothes, they were to go to Oslo and Copenhagen two days before W Day. After making last-minute reconnaissances, they would instruct the Ministers (who were not to be informed of their missions until the night before the landings) and thereafter, using special codes, inform the headquarters and the landing teams of the outcome of the negotiations.

After 5 March the timing of WESERUEBUNG became the major concern at the highest German command level. Admiral Raeder in conference with Hitler on the 9th declared that the execution of WESERUEBUNG was urgent. The British, he maintained, had the opportunity of occupying Norway and Sweden under the pretext of sending troops to help the Finns. Such an occupation would result in loss of the Swedish iron ore and could be decisive against Germany. WESERUEBUNG itself he characterized as contrary to all the principles of naval warfare, since Germany did not have naval supremacy but would have to carry out the operation in the face of a vastly superior British Fleet; nevertheless, he believed success would be attained if surprise was achieved. [34]

On 12 March with news of peace impending in the Soviet-Finnish war, which was expected to hasten Allied action, and with information that the Allies had again offered assistance to Finland, a speed-up in the German preparations was ordered. [35] The Navy had already canceled all other naval operations on 4 March and on that day had begun holding submarines in port for WESERUEBUNG. On the 11th long-range submarines were dispatched to the main ports on the Norwegian west coast, where they were to combat Allied invasion forces or, according to the circumstances, support WESERUEBUNG. [36]

The Allied effort, meanwhile, had moved slowly, and the Finnish Army, under the weight of massive Soviet offensives which had begun in February, had reached the limits of its endurance. The British held back two divisions from France, intending to put them into the field

[34] Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, I, 20.

[35] Gruppe XXI, Ia, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 12 Mar 40.

[36] Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 63.

Page 67

in Norway, and planned to expand their force eventually to 100,000 men. The French intended to commit about 50,000. [37] The British and French staffs agreed that the latter half of March would be the best time for going into Norway; but, aside from the desire to exploit the situation created by the Russo-Finnish conflict, they saw no compelling reason to act quickly since they were convinced that the important Trondheim-Narvik area was beyond the Germans' reach and could be taken at any time. Allied plans, furthermore, remained contingent on the Norwegian and Swedish Governments' granting rights of transit to Allied troops. They had turned down a request by Finland to that effect on 27 February, and another by the British and French Governments on 3 March. By that time Finland had decided to sue for peace. On 9 March the Allied governments told the Finnish Ministers in Paris and London that if a request was made the Allies would come to the aid of Finland with all possible speed. The French went so far as to urge that such a request be made. They promised delivery of a hundred bombers within two weeks, but left the dispatch of troops still dependent on the attitude of Norway and Sweden. On the same day, Marshal Mannerheim, who regarded the Allied proposal as too uncertain, gave his government categorical advice to conclude peace. [38]

At the last minute, on 12 March, still hoping for an appeal from the Finns, the Allies decided, at the suggestion of the French, to attempt a semipeaceable invasion of Scandinavia. Assuming that the recent diplomatic responses of the Norwegian and Swedish Governments ran counter to public opinion in those countries, they proposed to "test on the Norwegian beaches the firmness of the opposition." A landing was to be made at Narvik; if it succeeded, it would be followed by one at Trondheim. Forces for Bergen and Stavanger were to be held ready. The objectives were to take Narvik, the railroad, and the Swedish ore fields; but the landing and the advance into Norway and Sweden were to take place only if they could be accomplished without serious fighting. The troops were not to fight their way through either Norway or Sweden and were to use force only "as an ultimate measure of self-defense." [39]

The signing of the peace treaty between Russia and Finland in Moscow on the night of 12 March put an end to the Allied plans. The Germans observed British submarines concentrated off the Skagerrak on the 13th, and an intercepted radio message setting 14

[37] Derry, The Campaign in Norway, p. 13.

[38] Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, The Memoirs of Marshal Mannerheim (New 

York, Dutton 1954), pp. 380-87.

[39] Butler, Grand Strategy, Vol. II. p. 113.

Page 68

March as the deadline for preparation of transport groups indicated that the Allied operation was getting under way. But another message, intercepted on the 15th, ordering the submarines to disperse revealed that the peace had disrupted the Allied plan. [40]

General opinion in the Armed Forces High Command and the Navy High Command was that, with the pretext for action gone, the Allies would not undertake an operation against Norway in the near future. Even Raeder for a time doubted whether a German operation in Norway was still necessary. The fact remained that the Allies had intended to go into Scandinavia, and for Hitler that was enough. He was convinced, he stated, that the British would not abandon their strategic aim of cutting off the German ore imports and believed that the possibility of a future Allied occupation still existed; therefore, WESERUEBUNG would have to be executed.

Although Hitler was probably in large part influenced by his gambler's instinct and his disinclination to abandon an operation once it had been prepared and he thought it could be carried off successfully, he was more nearly right in his estimate of Allied intentions than he knew. On 21 March Paul Reynaud became the head of a French Government committed to a more aggressive prosecution of the war; and a week later, at a meeting of the Supreme War Council, the Scandinavian question again came under consideration. The new Scandinavian undertaking was to consist of two separate but related operations, WILFRED and Plan R 4. WILFRED involved the laying of two mine fields in Norwegian waters, one in the approaches to the Vest Fjord north of Bodo, and the other between Ålesund and Bergen, with the pretended laying of a third near Molde. It was to be justified by notes delivered to Norway and Sweden several days in advance protesting the inability of those nations to protect their neutrality. The supposition was that WILFRED would provoke German counteraction, and Plan R 4 was to become effective the moment the Germans landed in Norway "or showed they intended to do so." Narvik and the railroad to the Swedish frontier formed the principal objectives of Plan R 4. The port was to be occupied by one infantry brigade and an antiaircraft battery, with the total strength to be built up eventually to 18,000 men. One battalion, in a transport escorted by two cruisers, was to sail within a few hours after the mines had been laid. Five battalions were to be employed in occupying Trondheim and Bergen and in a raid on Stavanger to destroy Sola airfield, the largest in Norway and the closest to the British Isles. The plan depended heavily on the assumption that the Norwegians would not

[40] Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, I, 22. Naval War Diary, Vol. 7, p. 100.

Page 69

offer resistance; and, strangely, the possibility of a strong German reaction was left almost entirely out of account. [41]

On the German side, after the Finnish-Soviet peace was announced, Hitler hesitated temporarily as he cast about for means of justifying the operation, but the time for decision had come. From the point of view of the Navy, an early execution was imperative because all other naval operations had been brought to a standstill by the preparations and because after 15 April the nights would become too short to afford proper cover for the naval forces. Reporting to Hitler on 26 March, Raeder declared that the danger of an Allied landing in Norway was no longer acute, but since he believed WESERUEBUNG would have to be carried out sooner or later he advised that it be done as soon as possible. Hitler agreed to set the day for sometime in the period of the next new moon, which would occur on 7 April. [42]

On 1 April Hitler approved the plans for WESERUEBUNG after a detailed review; on the following day, after having been assured by the Commanders in Chief, Navy and Air Force, that ice would not impede naval movements in the Baltic and that flying conditions would be satisfactory, he designated 9 April as WESER Day and 0515 as WESER Time. The first supply ships sailed on 3 April and the warships began putting out from German ports at midnight on the 6th. [43]

It was not until after the first German ships were at sea that the Allies reached an agreement on their own operation. The execution of WILFRED and Plan R 4 was at first tied to Operation ROYAL MARINE, a British proposal for sowing fluvial mines in the Rhine. The French objected to this on the ground that it would provoke German bombing of French factories. WILFRED had been scheduled for 5 April, but it was not until that date that the British Government agreed to carry out the Norwegian operations independently of ROYAL MARINE; consequently, the mines were not laid until the morning of 8 April, by which time the German ships were advancing up the Norwegian coast. When it became known on the morning of the 8th that the German Fleet, which had been sighted by aircraft in the North Sea on the previous day, was at sea in the vicinity of Norway the mine-laying force was withdrawn and Plan R 4 was abandoned.

In the end the Allied venture accomplished nothing and gave Hitler the excuse he needed for WESERUEBUNG. The coincidence of Allied and German forces heading toward Norway at exactly the same time reinforced the myth of Hitler's "intuition" and gave rise to the

[41] Derry, The Campaign in Norway, pp. 15ff.

[42] Fuehrer Conferences, 1940, I, 22.

[43] Gruppe XXI, Kriegstagebuch Nr. 1, 1 and 2 Apr 40.

Page 70

post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument that WESERUEBUNG was forced on Germany by the aggressive intentions of the Allies. Actually there is no evidence that Hitler knew of WILFRED or Plan R 4, and it appears highly unlikely that he would have risked his Navy in Norwegian waters if he had known or suspected that the British Navy would be engaged in major operations in that area at the same time.

The Decision in Retrospect

On WESER Day, despite the fact that Warship Groups 1 and 2 had been sighted by British reconnaissance planes in the North Sea on 7 April and that one of the ships of the 1st Sea Transport Echelon had been sunk off Norway on the same day and its survivors-some of them soldiers in uniform-had been taken ashore in Norway, surprise was achieved everywhere except at Oslo, where Germany's newest cruiser Bluecher was sunk by the guns and torpedoes of coastal forts on the fjord outside the city. The Danish Government capitulated immediately, but the Government of Norway declared its intention to fight and, taking advantage of the delay in the German landing at Oslo, escaped into the interior. Within a week the Allies had committed forces at Narvik, Namsos, and Andalsnes to aid the Norwegians. But the superiority of the German plan and preparations was quickly proved, and by the first week of May the Allies had been driven out of Namsos and Andalsnes, leaving central and southern Norway firmly in German hands. British counteroperations at sea were not much more successful, and the German Air Force quickly demonstrated the ability of airpower-given the proper conditions-to neutralize superior sea power. At Narvik, nearly out of the striking range of the German Air Force, the situation was somewhat different. There the British Navy moved in quickly, and none of the ten German destroyers which had carried the landing force north managed to escape. By 14 April, after Allied troops had begun landing, Hitler was on the verge of instructing the regiment at Narvik to withdraw into Sweden and be interned. It took the combined efforts of the Army and Armed Forces High Commands to dissuade him from committing that signal piece of cowardice, which would also have amounted to sacrificing the primary objective of WESERUEBUNG. Thereafter the Narvik regiment staged a skillful and stubborn defense until early June, when the Allies, under the pressure of catastrophic developments in France, decided to evacuate. On 9 June, a day after the last Allied troops had sailed, the Norwegian Army surrendered.

In comparison with the expenditures of men and materiel which became commonplace later in the war, the cost of the Norwegian Cam-

Page 71

paign was minor. German casualties were 1,317 killed, 1,604 wounded, and 2,375 lost at sea or otherwise missing. The British lost 1,869 men in ground fighting and upward of 2,500 more at sea. The Norwegian losses numbered 1,335 men, and those of the French and Poles, 530. Of the losses on both sides, the only ones of major significance were those sustained by the German Navy. At the end of June 1940 Germany had only one heavy cruiser, two light cruisers, and four destroyers fit for action. In the anxious days of the summer of 1940 that was a source of some comfort to the British. Winston Churchill has described it as a "fact of major importance potentially affecting the whole future of the war." [44] On the other hand, the Norwegian Campaign constituted the high point in the German Navy's exploitation of its surface forces.

As an isolated military operation the German occupation of Norway was an outstanding success. Carried out in the teeth of vastly superior British sea power, it was, as Hitler said, "not only bold, but one of the sauciest undertakings in the history of modern warfare." [45] Well planned and skillfully executed, it showed the Wehrmacht at its best; nevertheless, some of the faults which were later to contribute greatly to the German defeat were already present, although not yet prominent enough to influence the outcome of the campaign. For success the operation depended heavily on daring and surprise combined with lack of preparedness and indecision on the part of the enemy. Those elements won campaigns but were not enough to win the war. Also in this campaign two serious defects of Hitler's personal leadership were revealed: his persistent meddling in the details of operations and his tendency to lose his nerve in a crisis.

To some extent, too, WESERUEBUNG gave evidence of Hitler's fatal weakness, his inability to keep his commitments within the bounds of his resources. Most German authorities still contend that Germany's strategic interests in Scandinavia and the existence of Allied intentions to open an offensive there created a compelling necessity for German action. However, two who qualify as experts of the first rank have concluded that WESERUEBUNG was not the sole solution for Germany, and probably not the best. General der Artillerie a. D. Walter Warlimont has pointed out that, even if the Allies had been able to establish a foothold in Norway, they would have been forced to relinquish their hold there once Operation GELB (the invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France) had started and that, if it were still necessary, the occupation of Norway could have

[44] Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: The Gathering Storm 

(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948), p. 657.

[45] Gruppe XXI, Notiz fuer das Kriegstagebuch, 1.4.40, in Anlagenband 1 

zum K.T.B. Nr. k, Anlagen 1-52, AOK 20 E 180/7.

Page 72

been accomplished more cheaply after GELB. [46] Professor Walther Hubatsch in his history of the Norwegian Campaign reaches essentially the same conclusion and adds the observation that Germany "undoubtedly" had the strength at that time to force the Allies back out of Scandinavia. He observes also that in Scandinavia the Allies would have had to contend with strong opposition on the part of the Soviet Union as well as Germany. [47] These views find further support in the official British historian's statement that "given the political situation of 1939-40 British intervention in some form was inevitable; and given the paucity of the then resources in men and arms, a more or less calamitous issue from it was likewise inevitable." [48] Of course, the clock cannot be set back and the function of history is not to speculate on what might have been; yet the contentions of Warlimont and Hubatsch, although they may benefit to some extent from hindsight, do in fact reflect a strong body of opinion which existed in the German Command at the time and which, in essence, opposed the then growing tendency to plunge in with a full-scale offensive at any point which was or might be threatened.

To return to the firmer ground of tangible gains, WESERUEBUNG brought Germany control of its supply line for Swedish iron ore (later also for Finnish nickel), a number of new naval and air bases, and some other economic advantages. The naval and air bases somewhat improved the German position with respect to the British Isles, increased the chances to break out into the Atlantic with raiders, and later made possible air and sea attacks on the Allied Murmansk convoys. However, a decisive improvement, particularly in the naval situation, was not achieved. Germany could still be shut off from the open sea, and for the Navy the advantages gained in the bases were offset by the losses in ships sustained during WESERUEBUNG.

In the further course of the war Norway became the staging area for an advance across Finland to Murmansk and the Murmansk Railroad. That attack bogged down in the summer of 1941 short of its objectives, and thereafter the fronts in Finland and Norway stagnated, tying down more than a half million men and tremendous amounts of materiel. Although Hitler insisted to the very last that Norway was the strategic key to Europe, the expected Allied invasion never came; and on 8 May 1945 the German Army in Norway surrendered without having fired a shot in the decisive battles of the war.

[46] Walter Warlimont, Gutachten zu der Kriegstagebuch-Ausarbeitung 

OKW/WSt "Der noerdliche Kriegsschauplatz," p. 19, MS # C-099 1. OCMH.

[47] Walter Hubatsch, Die deutsche Besetzung von Daenemark und Norwegen 

1940 (Goettingen, 1952), p. 261ff.

[48] Derry, The Campaign in Norway, p. 246.