Was Norway an allied country?

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Was Norway an allied country?

Post  AltforNorge on Wed 25 Feb 2009 - 23:43

The question if Norway was an allied country – ie allied with UK (and of course later with the US) has been debated several times on this forum.

Every time we have put our personal opinions to the front. There have been devided opinions.

I have never seen anyone bringing evidence to the front – neither if we were an allied country or not, only opionions.

From NA – National Archives in UK – (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk) I have now in my possession a photo of a letter.

The letter is dated 14th June, 1940

The letter is signed by T K Bewley – private secretary to the financial secretary (Finansminister) and joint permanent secretaries and of W. R. Fraser as first class clerk, Treasury – He was awarded Order of St Michael and St George.

The letter is addressed to the deputy Governor of Bank of England C F Cobbold (From 1949 Lord Cobbold, Governor of Bank of England)

Bewley writes:

“Dear Cobbold

Thank you for your letter oft the 11th June about the position of the Norges Bank.

The Norwegian Government now in London is recognized by the Foreign Office as an Allied Government and they would not wish you to treat the Norges Bank as an enemy bank.”

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Was Norway an allied country?

Post  Bob Pearson on Thu 26 Feb 2009 - 0:41

This is an interesting and official development on the topic, ' Was Norway an allied country?' In my search of Norwegian and British records in the National Archives I have never seen any documents to state that Norway was NOT an ally. Quite the contary, the word allied is often used by the British as a term describing the Norwegians (and other nations). One could argue it is a generalism, but it would seem that Arild Bergstrom's document has laid that particular arguement to rest

Recently, I found a document in the NA stating that Norway paid her way throughout the war. In fact it was through a speech given by Stortingpresident CJ Hambro to Americans. Norway was of course able to be an equal partner due to the support of her substantial bullion holding and of course the sizeable merchant fleet, which brought in a regular dividend made possible of course by the brave seamen that manned the ships. But for me Norway was not just an equal partner - she was an ally, and a very important one.

Bob

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Re: Was Norway an allied country?

Post  Bjørn on Thu 26 Feb 2009 - 17:05

Hello!
Emotionally, Norway surely felt as an ally.
But then again, such an alliance would be regulated through a signed doccument. There is none such. The letter found by Arild is indeed interesting, but no formal proof as I see it.

In the books by Winston Churchill about WW2, Norway is not listed as a formal ally. The norwegian forces in UK belonged to the British OOB, and not the Norwegian.

When the war ended, Norway was for a period run by allies, and not Norwegians. All German equipment was allied property, and not Norwegian. All references were to "Norway and the allies", so as a sum up I would say that Norway not was a formal ally, but were fighting together with them.

I an allied doccument about the German surrender, it is stated that the Germans should be guarded by allied forces, not Norwegian. It gives a listing:

"Allied nationals: Poles, French, Dutch, Begian, Luxemburgers, Czecho-Slovaks, danes, Jugoslavs, Albanians and Greeks.
Neutral: Swedes, Portugese, Swiss, Spaniards,
Disputed nationality: Danzigers, Latvians, Lithuanians, Esthonians, Stateless
Enemy: Germans, Italians, Rumanians, Finns, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Austrians"

For Norwegians it says: "Delay until Royal Norwegian Government can take over".

This is of course about the nationalities that were represented here in 45. And can not be seen as a formal doccument in who-was-allied-and-not.

Other views??

I will include a section of a very good work by David G. Thompson, found at http://hem.fyristorg.com/robertm/norge/history_section.html

Of course no proof of anything, but the section included - which is quite correct, gives not much impression of Norway being formal allied:

9. What was the military policy of the Norwegian government-in-exile in London? How successful was it in preserving Norwegian interests during the war, and how important were the contributions of the Norwegian forces-in-exile to Allied victory?

The Norwegian government-in-exile had little opportunity to influence the overall direction of Allied strategy. Apart from the basic decision to gamble on the ultimate defeat of Germany and place Norwegian forces under British command, the government concerned itself mainly with relations with the "Home Front" (i.e., the situation in occupied Norway), which was more a political issue than a military one. In general, the British used Norwegian ships and air squadrons in the same way as any other units, without reference to the government-in-exile. The British SOE (Special Operations Executive) also kept exclusive control over clandestine missions and contacts with the underground, denying the Norwegian government any opportunity to chart an independent policy in that respect.

In cases where Allied strategy and operations directly affected Norwegian interests, however, the Nygaardsvold government made active efforts to bring its influence to bear. The most important issue involved a series of British commando raids in 1941 that had a direct and sometimes disastrous impact on the civilian population. Finally, in December 1941, the abortive raid on Reine in the Lofoten Islands, which led to serious reprisals against the local population, prompted the Norwegian government to insist on closer co-ordination of British planning and operations with Norwegian interests. Toward this end, the Norwegians reorganized their military staff in London by creating a unified Armed Forces High Command (Forsvarets Overkommando, or F.O.) in February 1942. Although the improvement was gradual, the F.O. eventually assumed an integral role in Allied policy toward Norway, especially with respect to contingency plans for liberation.

The main contributions of the Norwegian forces-in-exile were at sea and in the air. The Royal Norwegian Air Force (which officially absorbed the formerly separate army and naval air arms in November 1944) eventually included five squadrons, all of which saw a great deal of active service. The navy also played a central role in the Battle of the Atlantic, mostly manning ships provided by the British and Americans.

Even more important, however, was the role of the Norwegian merchant fleet, which amounted to a major portion of the total shipping available to the Allied powers. The Norwegian merchant fleet in 1940 included nearly two thousand vessels totalling nearly five million tons--the fourth largest national shipping industry in the world. Of particular value were Norwegian tankers, which amounted to about twenty percent of the world-wide tonnage of that type. In the course of the invasion, the Germans had sunk or captured forty-three vessels totalling 149,000 tons; but the vast majority of vessels escaped or were already abroad. As a result, the allies received a huge addition to their sea transport capability that proved invaluable in the global struggle. In 1941, for example, forty percent of all foreign ships entering British ports were Norwegian. The government-in-exile effectively nationalized all Norwegian shipping through the creation of a unified emergency corporation, Notraship; and this crucial source of revenue allowed Norway to maintain financial independence even in exile. This fact did not always translate directly into influence on Allied strategy, but it did place the country in a much stronger, more stable position in the immediate post-war period than would have been the case otherwise.



B.


Last edited by Bjørn on Thu 26 Feb 2009 - 17:27; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Wrong spelling)

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Re: Was Norway an allied country?

Post  AltforNorge on Thu 26 Feb 2009 - 19:05

It certainly shows that no formal treaties had to be signed to be an allied nation:

"Allied nationals: Poles, French, Dutch, Begian, Luxemburgers, Czecho-Slovaks, danes, Jugoslavs, Albanians and Greeks.

Denmark at last, after the war, partly by Norwegian influence, obtained a status as "At war with Germany" so Denmark could participate during the establishment of United Nations after the war.

Never been at war with Germany, they are included in the allied nations above.

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Was Norway an allied country?

Post  Bob Pearson on Thu 26 Feb 2009 - 23:59

Some good and interesting points have been raised, but I contend that whilst David G Thompson raises some relevant points it is not until you read the personal records of Norwegians and Britons involved with organisations such as Norwegian SOE can anyone begin to understand the relationship between the two countries. Look to the Shetlands for an even greater understanding and respect and tell the veterans there that the Norwegians were not allies - I don't think they would raise a wee dram to that statement.

I have had the good fortune to have seen the document that Arild speaks about some time back and can confirm that it is correct. I admit it is the only time, so far, that I have seen the term 'allied' offcially used, but nowhere have I seen any documents stating that Norway was NOT an allied country.

The term 'allied' used in Arild's document was one taken upon the advice from the Foreign Office and used by the Bank of England and Treasury. This indicates that the three departments involved were very sure of the term. Usually, if there are any doubts with the text in documents one will see penciled remarks against what has been written or a follow up document, which is even more likely. The documents are usually numbered so you can soon work out what is happening if there are doubts. There are following documents in the series, but none questioning the status of Norway as an ally.

When reading the SOE files of Norwegians and Britons it becomes very clear that Norwegians were very highly thought of. Sure, Britain had doubts about their allies and one can assume vice versa, but the Norwegians are often mentioned as the closest and most reliable of allies to Britain. You don't need a document to state what a close friendship is.

If you ever wanted to understand the feeling of SOE towards the Norwegians I suggest the reading of Colonel John Skinner Wilson's history of the Norwegian SOE - the document is kept in Norway, but I have seen the NA version. Col Wilson delivered that document to Norway after he had retired form the army and I, im my humble opinion, consider it to be very much the single best history of Norwegian SOE. It gives the reader a wider understanding of the affection towards Norway that is not available in any history book; even McKenzies' book on SOE.

The statement I am now going to make is made with the promise that I would never reveal my source - I will of course keep that promise, but neither can I offer it as conclusive proof. Rather I ask you to consider, but dismiss it if you wish. My source, who was very close to King Haakon, stated that SOE kept King Haakon in the picture as to what raids were being planned on Norway. This information was delivered to the King by a Norwegian Officer at the behest of the British and often the King was aware long before the Norwegian Government of what was going to happen. This situation changed and rightly improved later with the involvement of FOIV. Perhaps this could be the reason why some historians don't see Norway as an official ally - that the government was kept in the dark, but of course they wouldn't know that the King was perhaps kept briefed of matters.

General statements are often made by historians and perhaps one can understand how they reached those official conclusions with the information on general offer, but when digging below the surface a different picture emerges and that can often be at odds with what has been written. The Max Manus file is a good example absolute classic in

For me Norway was and is an ally. If I ever find any statement to support or suggest otherwise I will endeavour to post it on this website, but todate Arild's letter would appear to be good proof that some sort of official line was taken at some point in 1940.

Finally, here's a thought provoker; 10,000 Germans worked for Britain during WW2. They were regarded as allies and important ones. Of course, there was much suspicion at the beginning, but once these people had proved their worth they were very welcome. Many of these men became 'Special Forces' SOE, SIS and 10 Commando 'X Troop'. I don't suppose we will ever see any formal documentation stating that they were allies, but they were regarded as allied all the same. Sounds familiar?

bob

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Was Norway an allied country

Post  Bob Pearson on Sat 28 Feb 2009 - 15:00

Arild & Bjorn have raised some very interesting points on the subject, but what happened at the end of hostilities is just as interesting, Bjorn wrote:

'When the war ended, Norway was for a period run by allies, and not Norwegians. All German equipment was allied property, and not Norwegian.'

So what happened to all of this kit - was it destroyed or returned to Britain. What was retained by Norway and did the country argue its right to retain the material. I can uderstand why the very latest war material was removed for evaluation, but were items such as aircraft, tanks, etc., retained in numbers or were they all lost to Britain and any other interested parties?

Bob

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Re: Was Norway an allied country?

Post  AltforNorge on Sun 1 Mar 2009 - 0:44

Regarding Enemy properties I have only rudimentary informations.

What I know is that the Germans crashed all instruments in planes, making them unusable. The costal fortresses were given to Norway, heavy artillery included. There was established a directorate named "The Directorate for Enemy Properties". What went into this directorate, I don't know.

From my own time as conscript in Norther Norway I remember surprisingly very much "Ex-German" materiell wich was the term used for this type of materials.

I also know that one submarine was given to Norway who used well into the 50-ies.

When they stopped using it, instead of making nails of it, they sold it to the Germans. At last the Germans got a fully working submarine they cold place in Kiel for their worshipping of their authrosities as a result of their criminal breeces of the rules for submarine warfare. (Yes it was contradictory to the laws of warfare to just send a torpedo into a merchant ship without warning).

I guess that among this forum readers/contributers, there are many with much greater knowledge of the question of Ex-German materiel

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Norway an allied country?

Post  kaii on Sun 8 Mar 2009 - 3:20

While some interesting points have been made, I think this discussion could use a summary of (some of) the legal documents that actually influenced the legal standing of Norway during ww2.
In many ways this debate is similar to the debate about the norwegian surrender on June 10th 1940 (did Norway as a country surrender or just the remanining military forces). there are two things to consider; 1. what did the actual legal documents say, and 2. how did the participants in practice deal with the documents and contetns of these.
i will not restart the debate on the surrender here, but for the rest of this posting I will assume that the surrender was not for the country as a hole (a point that could easily be challenged through legal arguments) and that the norwegian government-in-exile was indeed still the legal government of Norway as a nation (and thereby had the power to committ the nation to international treaties).

Firts it might be useful to consider what the "Allies" actually were; before the german attack on Poland, the Allies were a group of countries bound by a legal contract/agreement to come to each other's aid in times of war. This group consisted of the UK, France and mostly Commonwealth countries. There was a legal document formally declaring this alliance.
However, as events unfolded, the legal procedures for accepting countries as allies were somewhat relaxed....i.e. eventually (by early 1941), pretty much any country that was opposed to the Axis was considered an "allied" country, regardless of whether they had signed the official document to enter the original alliance.

For Norway's part, again assuming there was a "Norway" after June 10th 1940, there are (at least) 3 documents of interest to this debate;

1. The Armed Forces agreement between Norway and the Uk signed on May 28th 1941
While this agreement does specify that the Norwegian forces are part of the british OOB, the opening articles are of particular interest;
(Quote) Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Royal Norwegian Government concerning the Organisation and Employment of the Norwegian Armed Forces in the United Kingdom.

The Government of Norway and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northem Ireland,
Affirming their determination to prosecute the war to a sucessful conclusion,
Agreeing that one of the objects of the war is the re-establishment of the freedom and independence of Norway through its complete liberation from German domination,
Recognising the importance in their common interest of maintaining the armed forces of Norway, and
Desiring to establish the principles on which those forces will be organised for co-operation with the Allied Armed Forces,
have agreed as follows- -

Article 1.

The Norwegian Armed Forces in the United Kingdom (comprising Land, Sea and Air Forces) shall be employed either for the defence of the United Kingdom or for the purpose of regaining Norway. They shall be organised and employed under British command, in its character as the Allied High Command, as the Armed Forces of the Kingdom of Norway allied with the United Kingdom.- (end quote)

There are two main points in this agreement:
1. It establishes that the government of the Uk reckognises the Government of Norway as legal
2. It states clearly in article 1 that Norway is allied with the United Kingdom.

Given that the United Kingdom formally was the alliance head, and thereby had the judicial power to accept members into the alliance on behalf of the entire alliance, this document indeed would support the claim that Norway was an allied country, not only in the minds of the people involved, but also through legal, binding agreements signed at governmental level. Also, in the appendices to the agreement, it is clearly specified that the Norwegian forces are placed under british command, in "its character as Allied High Command" - i.e. the Norwegian forces were handelled much the same way as forces of New Zealand, Australia and canada - all pre-war allied countries.

2. The St.James agreement (inter-allied) of June 12th 1941
This agreement de facto replaced the original !Alliance document" and thereby formed the new Allies after this date.
(quote) The Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the Government of Belgium, the Provisional Czechoslovak Government, the Governments of Greece, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia, and the Representatives of General de Gaulle, leader of Free Frenchmen,

Engaged together in the fight against aggression,

Are resolved

1. That they will continue the struggle against German or Italian oppression until victory is won, and will mutually assist each other in this struggle to the utmost of their respective capacities;

2. That there can be no settled peace and prosperity so long as free peoples are coerced by violence into submission to domination by Germany or her associates, or live under the threat of such coercion;

3. That the only true basis of enduring peace is the willing co-operation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security; and that it is their intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace to this end.
(quote end)

Norway is here mentioned as part of the (new) Allied countries, Denmark (who at this time was neutral) is not. Another strong legal argument for the Allied status of Norway.

3. The United nations declaration january 1st 1942

With the US entry into the war and the attack on the Soviet Union, the nature of "the Allies" once again changed.
The declaration was a firm resolve and binding agreement on the part of the signatories, to fight the Axis powers. One again, a new "Allies" were established, now adding some more countries (US and the Soviet Union, but also some central american countries like Honduras, Cuba etc).

(quote) A Joint Declaration by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, South Africa, Yugoslavia
The Governments signatory hereto,

Having subscribed to a common program of purposes and principles embodied in the Joint Declaration of the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dated August 14, 1941, known as the Atlantic Charter.

Being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world,

DECLARE:

(1) Each Government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic, against those members of the Tripartite Pact :and its adherents with which such government is at war.

(2) Each Government pledges itself to cooperate with the Governments signatory hereto and not to make a separate armistice or peace with the enemies.

The foregoing declaration may be adhered to by other nations which are, or which may be, rendering material assistance and contributions in the struggle for victory over Hitlerism.

Done at Washington
January First, 1942 (quote end)

Once again, this declaration firmly establishes that Norway was indeed an Allied country, both in the minds of the people involved, but also based on the legal documents that were signed.


In conclusion; If one accepts the argument that Norway as a country did not surrender on June 10th 1940, and that the Norwegian government in exile indeed had legal foundation for signing binding agreements on behalf of Norway, Norway was an allied country de facto from May 28th 1941, and legally from June 12th 1941.



Hope this information is of help in the further discussions :-) (Sorry the posting is very long...)

Kai

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Re: Was Norway an allied country?

Post  AltforNorge on Mon 9 Mar 2009 - 0:20

Thank you very much Kai. You states that it is long - maybe - but it is most informative.

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Re: Was Norway an allied country?

Post  AltforNorge on Wed 11 Mar 2009 - 0:38

kaii wrote:While some interesting points have been made, I think this discussion could use a summary of (some of) the legal documents that actually influenced the legal standing of
In conclusion; If one accepts the argument that Norway as a country did not surrender on June 10th 1940, and that the Norwegian government in exile indeed had legal foundation for signing binding agreements on behalf of Norway, Norway was an allied country de facto from May 28th 1941, and legally from June 12th 1941.



Hope this information is of help in the further discussions :-) (Sorry the posting is very long...)

Kai

Did Norway surrender or did "just" the Army surrender, is a bearing condition in Kai's arguments.

When the Swedish courts had to decide wether to free Norwegian boats held back in Sweden or not to hold them back "Kvarstadbåtene", the Swedish courts had to rule a verdict on this question. If Norway had surrendered, the ships had to be given to the de facto authorities in Norway - Germany. If Norway had not surrendered, just the Army, the boats had to be delievered in custody of the legal Norwegian government (In London). This was early in the war and the Swedish politicians was very careful, not to give the Germans any excuse to do something not in Swedish interests.

The Swedish court studied the available documents - The Peace treaty from 1940 - and concluded that Norway had not surrendered - only their armed forces still present in Norway at the time of end of hostilities.

Still this is the only court deceision on this theme. The Norwegian High court also ruled this verdict, but much more implisit.

Therefore I conclud that Kai's arguments holds water. Norway was an allied country.

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