I Saw It Happen in Norway
© 1940 C.J. Hambro
I Saw it Happen in Norway is a rare account of Hitler’s early expansion, the story of a nation’s downfall told first-hand from a surviving member of its government and published during the war’s dark hour of 1940. The account exposes Hitler’s war as nothing but naked, brazen aggression from the beginning. Germany had no historical grudge to settle or land to ‘redeem’ from Norway as it did with France and Czechoslovakia; relations between the two northern powers were nothing but amicable. And yet, in the early spring of 1940, German troops materialized from false-flagged commercial transport ships, and the Luftwaffe began reducing the land’s cities and towns to ashes. This was more than war; this was treachery. In I Saw it Happen, a leading member of the Norwegian governments records how he and other officials realized nearly too late that they were being attacked, and records the first weeks of resistance. Coordination at first reduced to shambles by the concentrated Nazi attack on Oslo, the Norwegian army nonetheless managed to re-form enough to fight a rear-guard action, allowing the King, the crown prince, and leading officials to take a government-in-exile out of the country. The Norwegians were not alone in the defense of their nation, aided by British and French troops who crossed the North Sea in early recognition that the phony war was over. Before the first month was over, however, the Wehrmacht’s invasion of France forced Allied retreat and Norwegian recognition that overt military defense would not long be practicable; without munitions, resistance sustained by the hope that the tide would turn would be Norway’s best option. Brief as it is, I Saw it Happen demonstrates how quickly the brutality of World War 2 began, and how immediate heroic resistance could be.