RIP Kjakan

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RIP Kjakan

Post  Cutstone on Thu 10 May 2012 - 16:02

Gunnar "Kjakan" Sønsteby, from the "Oslogang" died today. Rest in peace, you've done way more than your share. A reflected and informed man has passed on to once again meet up with his old buddies. One of my real heroes lives strongly on in our memory!

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Re: RIP Kjakan

Post  AltforNorge on Thu 10 May 2012 - 16:18

Yes, Rest in peace

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Gunnar

Post  Bob Pearson on Thu 10 May 2012 - 16:32

A while back, I had the honour of meeting Gunnar at the Special Forces club, London. I found him to be a helpful and honourable man who was genuinely interested in what I was researching. He now takes his rest from a lifetime of service to his country...a very generous service without doubt.

I can only echo the sentiments of Cutstone and Alt For Norge.


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Gunnar Sønsteby - aka No 24 et al

Post  Bob Pearson on Thu 10 May 2012 - 22:41

The following obituary is appearing in tomorrow's edition of 'The Daily Telegraph'

Gunnar Sonsteby

Gunnar Sonsteby, who has died aged 94, was Norway’s most decorated war hero, chief of operations for the underground resistance and sole surviving member of a team of saboteurs helmed by Max Manus, the daring leader of several numerous missions against targets in Nazi-occupied Norway.

6:06PM BST 10 May 2012

Sonsteby spent five years fighting the Nazi occupation. “When your country is taken over by 100,000 Germans,” he noted, “you get angry.”
In 1942 he became agent 24 in the Special Operations Executive. After saboteur training in Britain in 1943, he became the contact for all SOE agents in eastern Norway and head of the Norwegian Independent Company 1 group in Oslo.
This group performed several spectacular acts of sabotage; among them smuggling out plates for the printing of Norwegian kroner from the Norwegian Central Bank, and blowing up the office for Norwegian forced labour, a strike that wrecked the Nazis’ plan of sending young Norwegian men to the Eastern Front.
In 1945 he was awarded the DSO. As well as the attack on the labour office, Sonsteby’s citation records the theft of 75,000 ration books, which put pressure on the authorities, stopping a threatened cut in rations; the destruction of sulphuric acid manufacturing facilities in Lysaker; and destroying or seriously damaging more than 40 aircraft under repair at a tram company depot in Korsvoll. He was also credited with the destruction of a railway locomotive under repair at Skabo; a number of Bofors guns; a field gun and vital machine tools at the Kongsberg arms factory; and with starting a large fire in a storage depot at Oslo harbour which destroyed large quantities of lubricating oils.
Operating in occupied territory, and ranked high on the Gestapo list of wanted men, Sonsteby became a master of disguise. He operated under 30 or 40 different names and identities, and the Germans did not learn his real name until near the end of the war. They were never able to catch him.
As a young man, Sonsteby’s long face led to him being nicknamed “Kjakan” (“The Chin”). A British journalist who interviewed him in the spring of 2011 still found him “a fine reed of a man, thin, poised and dignified, like a Nordic Giacometti”. At 93 he retained a keen intellect, a charismatic and considered delivery, and an erect, military bearing; he would grip a stranger’s hand like a steel vice.
Gunnar Fridtjof Thurmann Sonsteby was born on January 11 1918, growing up in the same Oslo neighbourhood as Manus – though the two did not meet until July 1940, when they worked together on an underground newspaper to counter Nazi propaganda.
At the time of the German invasion in April that year, Sonsteby had been a student working in a motorbike shop in German-occupied Oslo. “Oh, the humiliation of seeing those green-uniformed creatures tramping our streets,” he recalled in his memoirs, Report from Number 24. Even more galling were the hated Norwegian Nazis, or Quislings.
Then he met Manus, 25, who organised the rag-tag group known as the Oslo Gang that made some early efforts to sabotage Nazi assets. Initially progress was slow. “The first year, very little,” said Sonsteby. “Second, more. In 1941 I knew it would last.” Apart from Manus, an expert saboteur, the Gang’s inner circle included Gregers Gram, who ran propaganda campaigns. Sonsteby’s field was intelligence: “To find out how the Germans built up their power.”
As the Gang began to dent the Nazi machine in Norway, Sonsteby was extracted to receive specialist training with SOE in the wilds of Scotland. But he reacted badly to British military discipline. A potshot at Highland sheep almost got him thrown out. But his record and character were defended by Colonel JS Wilson, chief of the Scandinavian section of the SOE and later the head of the World Scout Bureau.
Wilson sent him back to active service in Oslo, Sonsteby parachuting in during a night-time RAF drop. “It was very special to come over Norway,” Sonsteby remembered. “Seeing the whole country in moonshine, landing on the snow in the mountains with our skis. It was just wonderful.”
He targeted munitions factories and troop ships during the occupation. Crucially, after D-Day, he set his sights on the Norwegian railways, preventing German reinforcements moving back to the front line.
Throughout, he had a simple, but strict, process of using various names and forged documents, moving from flat to flat almost daily. One refuge was above a bakery. “When I came to that baker’s shop I always looked at the girl selling bread. If she gave a special face I would know the Germans were there,” he remembered. “I would turn around.”
It was easy for Sonsteby to slip into fresh identities as he made all his false papers himself. With his forger’s hand, he could replicate the signature of Karl Marthinsen, the notorious leader of the Norwegian Nazi police. Marthinsen was central to the implementation of the Norwegian Holocaust and was “liquidated” on an Oslo street by the resistance in February 1945. In reprisal, nearly 30 Norwegians were executed.
The greatest fear for Sonsteby and his team was torture. When one co-fighter, Edvard Tallaksen, was picked up by the Gestapo in a café at Grünerløkka, he committed suicide rather than talk. Manus, too, was captured. Injured during an attempted escape, he was hospitalised under guard, only to escape again, down a rope from a second-floor window.
After the liberation of Norway, both the British and Norwegian intelligence services tried to recruit Sonsteby, but he refused. “I didn’t want any more war. I had had enough. I’d lost five years of my life.” Instead, in 1945, he left Norway for America and Harvard.
In 1946 Sonsteby became the only Nord to be awarded the War Cross with Three Swords.
After Harvard he worked in the oil industry before returning to Norway and a career in private business. Throughout the post-war years and particularly after his retirement, he gave lectures to young Norwegians about the Second World War.
In 2008 the wartime biopic Max Manus, Gunnar Sonsteby was played by Knut Joner. The film ignited a fresh debate about how Norway and ordinary Norwegians had responded to the German invasion and subsequent occupation. Sonsteby attended the premiere with his wife, Anne-Karin, and the film became the most successful in Norwegian history, winning six Amanda Awards (Norwegian Oscars), including best picture, best screenplay and best actor.
In 2001 he was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s culture award. In the same year Sonsteby helped defeat a proposal to name a street in Oslo after the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, who had welcomed the wartime German occupation of his country and given his Nobel Prize for Literature as a gift to the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. Hamsun later flew to meet Hitler at Hitler’s mountain lair in Bavaria. At the time Sonsteby said Norway should dissolve parliament and declare a dictatorship before so naming a street. But in the end he came to consider that commemorating Hamsun was acceptable, as long as the writer’s literary talent and political affiliation received equal attention.
In May 2007 a statue of Sonsteby on Solli Plass in Oslo was unveiled by King Harald of Norway. Sculpted by Per Ung, it portrays a 25-year-old Sonsteby standing next to his bicycle.
The King and other members of the Royal family also honoured Sonsteby, on the occasion of his 90th birthday in January 2008, with a reception at Akershus Fortress, the site of the Gestapo’s wartime headquarters and now home to Norway’s Resistance Museum.
In 2008 Sonsteby was the first non-American awarded the United States Special Operations Command Medal.
Gunnar Sonsteby, born January 11 1918, died May 10 2012

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Gunnar Sønsteby - aka No 24 et al

Post  Cutstone on Fri 11 May 2012 - 0:19

Excellent words. Sounds like your writing Bob. Good job!!
Atle Smile

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Re: RIP Kjakan

Post  Admin on Fri 11 May 2012 - 0:31

Yes, the most decorated man in Norway is not among us anymore.
His spirit will live as long as we remember him, though!
RIP, "kjakan"*!
Kurt Monsen

*(Kjakan is a norwegian (South east norway only) nickname often used to describe boxers or people with a strong jaw. Kjakan means Kjeve in Norwegian and simply Jaw in english.)

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Re: RIP Kjakan

Post  Skygge on Fri 11 May 2012 - 1:15

Kvil i Fred Gunnar !

When I think about the age of this fella, or the age of the boys whom I saw the graves some days ago at the Commonwealth plot i Bergen, thinking that they were 20-24 years tops and having done all they've done leaves me speechless.

Unfortunately, in 5 years almost all the people who survived this will be dead. Then the archives will open later, but we'll miss precious and direct sources.

Flagger halv-stang i morgo... Wink

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Rest in peace Gunnar

Post  Magnum on Sat 12 May 2012 - 9:20

Documentary from the Norwegian VG-TV about Gunnar Sønsteby

part 1: http://www.vgtv.no/#!id=52276
part 2: http://www.vgtv.no/#!id=52315
part 3: http://www.vgtv.no/#!id=52316

Vila i frid "nr 24"
/Magnum

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Gunnar Sønsteby - aka No 24 et al

Post  Bob Pearson on Sun 13 May 2012 - 12:41

I have just received a mail from a close Norwegian friend pointing out, and rightly so, an incorrect use of word in the obituary to Gunnar Sønsteby. The word, 'helmed' is used in the opening sentence.

Gunnar Sonsteby, who has died aged 94, was Norway’s most decorated war hero, chief of operations for the underground resistance and sole surviving member of a team of saboteurs HELMED by Max Manus, the daring leader of several numerous missions against targets in Nazi-occupied Norway.

Helm, according to the OED means to steer, manage or hide.

The obituary was written by a Daily Telegraph journalist who perhaps has misunderstood the role of Max Manus in relation to Gunnar Sønsteby. I suggest that the word 'assisted' or similar would have been more appropriate for the sentence. It was Gunnar Sønsteby who was at the 'helm'.

Bob

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Re: RIP Kjakan

Post  AltforNorge on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:54

The National Broadcasting Company NRK said that with Sønstebys`death, the last of the great saboteurs was dead.

That is horribly wrong. Joachim Rønneberg is very much alive. He was the leader of the most spectacular sabotage, and if you ask forreigners if they know about Norwegian sabotage during the war, I guess that those how remembers anything, will point to the "Race against Hitler`s atom bomb" Vemork.

BTW:

Sabot is the French word for a wooden shoe. When some factory workers in France deceided to wreck those awfull machines which made them superflous, they threw their wooden shoes into the machines and destroyed them; Hence Sabotage. bom

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Re: RIP Kjakan

Post  AltforNorge on Sun 13 May 2012 - 19:56

I am looking forward to meeting J Rønneberg on tuesday. He attends every meeting for the volounteers at Ålesuns Sunnmøre Turistforening (The local tourist accociation) The word touring is here in the meaning. Hiking.

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The Times Obituary

Post  Bob Pearson on Wed 16 May 2012 - 13:32

Gunnar Sonsteby
--------------------------------------------------
Times, The (London, England)-May 14, 2012

Audacious saboteur who energised Norway's wartime resistance movement by blowing up cunningly chosen German installations The resistance structure in Germanoccupied Norway, "Milorg" (Military Organisation), focused its attention on preparing for the eventual liberation, rather than on harassing the occupiers or sabotaging their installations. But the Special Operations Executive (SOE) headquarters in London had other priorities, seeking to tie down the maximum number of German troops in Norway - away from the active battle zones - and disable elements of Norwegian industry diverted to the Nazi war effort. Into this scenario stepped Gunnar Sonsteby with a few friends intent on a resistance campaign of their own.

Aged 24, Sonsteby's motivation was outrage at the German invasion of his country, cheerfully disregarding the fact it had been provoked by the Royal Navy mining Norwegian waters to block Swedish iron ore being shipped to Germany. On hearing that a Norwegian military unit was forming up in Britain, he made an attempt to reach this country by sea, only to suffer severe frostbite in northern Sweden, and he was obliged to return to Oslo. There he established contact with Milorg but resolved to take a more proactive role after a second visit to Sweden, when he met a representative of SOE at the British Embassy.

This and later border crossings were facilitated by a courageous and resourceful Norwegian customs officer, Johan Ostlie, and his wife Tora. Sonsteby's task on return to Norway was to gather information for SOE on German activities, in particular on the construction of a U-boat harbour at Trondheim. When a radio transmitter operated by a colleague for passing information to London broke down, Sonsteby returned to Stockholm for spare parts. The Ostlies again helped him to make the crossing, as they continued to do for him and others until Johan was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1943. Even then, his wife persisted with this work.

The concentration of Norway's population in ports and small towns was a serious obstacle to clandestine operations, as uncustomary behaviour or strangers were immediately noticeable.

Sonsteby therefore purported to be working for the collaborationist neo-Nazi Norwegian state police. Using forged papers, he travelled openly by car to gather information SOE required. Ostensibly driven by a gasgenerator on the back, his car was actually using black market petrol.

Relations between the Milorg resistance and London came under strain after British commando attacks on targets in Norway that led to German reprisals against the local population and a consequent coolness between Milorg and Sonsteby's group. Shortly after he had borrowed plates for printing Bank of Norway notes (required by SOE) and smuggled them over the frontier to Sweden in the summer of 1942, one of his contacts was arrested by the Gestapo. Recognising the danger to himself, he decided to take temporary refuge in Sweden. There he was persuaded by SOE's contact in Stockholm to go to England for training in sabotage techniques.

He was parachuted back into Norway in November 1943 with instructions to return to Oslo, this time using an alias, establish useful contacts and seek sabotage opportunities. The situation in the capital was more dangerous than when he had left: his father had been arrested and imprisoned, many of his former colleagues had disappeared and the underground press had been put out of action. Nevertheless, he set about forming a group to work with the "Home Front" in overall control of resistance co-ordination.

The Front's priority at that time was to frustrate plans for the conscription of young Norwegians into the German Army for service against the Russians.

A countrywide programme was under preparation to deprive Vidkun Quisling's puppet government of the records needed for the call-up and give heart to the population at large to resist the draft in every conceivable way. Sonsteby's group blew up the Oslo Labour Office containing the bulk of the records and draft card printing machines without loss of life, the staff having been given two minutes to clear the building. A few days later, the same group destroyed the building housing the reserve printing machinery.

Messages broadcast from London gave the news of these and similar acts to the population and young Norwegians refused to answer calls to register for service. An underground press service was also re-established to provide reliable news and advice on how to avoid the draft. By his own admission, Sonsteby was so exhilarated by these events that he became less cautious while driving around. He had a narrow escape at a roadblock where a Norwegian policeman actually knew the person whose name he was using as an alias. He escaped by accelerating away at speed.

His later sabotage spectaculars included destruction of the Messerschmitt aircraft and aircraft parts storage depot at Korsvoll, the arms factories at Raufoss and Kongsberg and the oil depot in the Oslo dockyard. Despite his exhilaration, each of these operations was planned with meticulous care to avoid loss of life. Two final acts of his group were to collect Quisling - whose name had become synonymous with the word "traitor" - from his office for trial and, after the liberation, to escort King Olav and his family on his triumphant drive through Oslo on his return from England.

He was awarded the Norwegian War Cross with two bars, the British DSO and United States Medal of Freedom with silver palm. He left Norway in 1945 to attend the Harvard Business School and then worked for Standard Oil in Panama, New York and Oslo. From 1950 he was personnel director (and later sales director) for the Saugbruksforeningen Paper Mill. He formed a consultancy in 1970 and was general manager of the Getty Oil Company, Norway, from 1979 to 1985. His memoir of his wartime service Report from No. 24 (his number when he began his service with SOE) was first published in 1965 and became a European bestseller.

He is survived by his wife Anne-Karin and three daughters.

Gunnar Sonsteby, DSO, hero of the Norwegian wartime resistance, was born on January 11, 1918. He died on May 10, 2012, aged 94 He destroyed the office containing records for conscripting Norwegians

Sonsteby's heroism was honoured in Norway, the UK and the US and his statue stands in Oslo, top right. Sonsteby, above left, with the customs man Johan Ostlie and his wife Tora, who helped him with his border crossings

TROND NORÉN ISAKSEN
Edition: 01 - eireSection: FeaturesPage: 42
Record Number: 59842007(c) Times Newspapers Limited 2012




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Re: RIP Kjakan

Post  AltforNorge on Wed 16 May 2012 - 23:11

I have to correct this obituary. He was awarded the War Cross with three swords, not two.

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Gunnar Sønsteby

Post  Bob Pearson on Wed 16 May 2012 - 23:48

To be frank, I wish I'd have written the obituary. I can only apologise on behalf of The Daily Telegraph and The Times. It would have been good to have seen the obituaries written correctly.

Bob

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Re: RIP Kjakan

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