VIDKUN ABRAHAM LAURITZ JONSSøN QUISLING (Norwegian: ( listen ); 18
July 1887 – 24 October 1945) was a Norwegian military officer and
politician who nominally headed the government of Norway after the
country was occupied by
Quisling first came to international prominence as a close
Fridtjof Nansen , organizing humanitarian relief
Russian famine of 1921 in Povolzhye . He was posted as a
Norwegian diplomat to the Soviet Union, and for some time also managed
British diplomatic affairs there. He returned to Norway in 1929, and
served as Minister of Defence in the governments of Peder Kolstad
Quisling left the Farmers' Party and founded the fascist
Nasjonal Samling . Although he achieved some popularity after
his attacks on the political left , his party failed to win any seats
From 1942 to 1945 he served as
Prime Minister of Norway , heading the
Norwegian state administration jointly with the German civilian
Josef Terboven . His pro-
* 1 Early life
* 1.1 Background
* 1.2 Travels
* 1.2.1 Paris, Eastern Europe and Norway * 1.2.2 Russia and the rouble scandal
* 2 Early political career
* 2.1 Final return to Norway * 2.2 Defence minister * 2.3 Popular party leader * 2.4 Fører of a party in decline
* 3.1 Coming of war * 3.2 German invasion and coup d\'état * 3.3 Head of the government * 3.4 Minister President
* 4 Arrest, trial, death, and legacy * 5 Personality * 6 Religious and philosophical views * 7 Footnotes * 8 References
* 9 Bibliography
* 9.1 In Norwegian * 9.2 Primary sources
* 10 External links
Vidkun Quisling (far left) with his family, c. 1915
Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn
Quisling ( Norwegian pronunciation
(help ·info )) was born on 18 July 1887 in
Fyresdal , in the
Norwegian county of
The family name derives from Quislinus, a Latinised name invented by
Quisling's ancestor Lauritz Ibsen Quislin (1634–1703), based on the
village of Kvislemark in
Quisling proved talented in humanities , particularly
history, and natural sciences ; he specialised in mathematics. At this
point, however, his life had no clear direction. In 1905, Quisling
enrolled at the
Norwegian Military Academy , having received the
highest entrance examination score of the 250 applicants that year.
Transferring in 1906 to the
Norwegian Military College , he graduated
with the highest score since the college's inception in 1817, and was
rewarded by an audience with the King . On 1 November 1911, he
joined the army General Staff. Norway was neutral in the First World
Quisling detested the peace movement, though the high human cost
of the war did temper his views. In March of 1918, he was sent to
Russia as an attaché at the Norwegian legation in Petrograd , to take
advantage of the five years he had spent studying the country.
Though dismayed at the living conditions he experienced, Quisling
nonetheless concluded that "the Bolsheviks have got an extraordinarily
strong hold on Russian society" and marvelled at how
“ Quisling replied the Russian people needed wise leadership and proper training indifference, a lack of clearly defined goals with conviction and a happy-go-lucky attitude it is impossible to accomplish anything without willpower, determination and concentration. ”
— Alexandra recounts a conversation with her soon-to-be husband, Yourieff 2007 , p. 93
Quisling and his second wife, Maria .
In September of 1919,
Quisling departed Norway to become an
intelligence officer with the Norwegian delegation in
Having left Ukraine in September of 1922, Quisling and Asja returned to Kharkov in February of 1923 to prolong aid efforts, with Nansen describing Quisling's work as "absolutely indispensable." Quisling found the situation much improved and, with no fresh challenges, found it a more boring trip than his last. He did however meet Maria Vasiljevna Pasetsjnikova (Russian : Мари́я Васи́льевна Па́сечникова), a Ukrainian more than ten years his junior. Her diaries from the time "indicate a blossoming love affair" during the summer of 1923, despite Quisling's marriage to Asja the year before. She recalled that she was impressed by his fluent command of the Russian language, his Aryan appearance, and his gracious demeanour. Quisling apparently married Pasetsjnikova in Kharkov on 10 September 1923, although no legal documentation has been discovered. Quisling's biographer, Dahl, believes that in all likelihood the second marriage was never official. Regardless, the couple behaved as though they were married, and celebrated their wedding anniversary. Soon after the wedding, the aid mission came to an end and the trio left the Ukraine, and from the summer of 1923 onwards they planned to spend a year in Paris. Maria wanted to see Western Europe; Quisling wanted to get some rest following bouts of stomach pain that had lasted all winter.
Paris, Eastern Europe And Norway
The stay in Paris required a temporary discharge from the army, which
Quisling slowly grew to understand was permanent: army cutbacks meant
that there would be no position available for him when he returned.
Quisling devoted much of his time in the French capital to study,
reading works of political theory and working on his philosophical
project, which he called Universism. On 2 October 1923, he persuaded
In the summer of 1924, the trio returned to Norway where Asja subsequently left to live with an aunt in Nice and never returned. Although Quisling promised to provide for her well-being, his payments were irregular, and over the coming years he would miss a number of opportunities to visit. Back in Norway, and to his later embarrassment, Quisling found himself drawn into the communist Norwegian labour movement. Among other policies, he fruitlessly advocated a people's militia to protect the country against reactionary attacks, and asked members of the movement whether they would like to know what information the General Staff had on them, but he got no response. Although this brief attachment to the extreme left seems unlikely given Quisling's later political direction, Dahl suggests that, following a conservative childhood, he was by this time "unemployed and dispirited ... deeply resentful of the General Staff ... in the process of becoming politically more radical." Dahl adds that Quisling's political views at this time could be summarised as "a fusion of socialism and nationalism," with definite sympathies for the Soviet regime in Russia.
Russia And The Rouble Scandal
In June of 1925, Nansen once again provided
Quisling with employment.
The pair began a tour of Armenia , where they hoped to help repatriate
native Armenians via a number of projects proposed for funding by the
League of Nations
The harder line now developing in Russian politics led
distance himself from Bolshevism. The
Soviet government had rejected
outright his Armenian proposals, and obstructed an attempt by Nansen
to help with the 1928 Ukrainian famine.
Quisling took these rebuffs as
a personal insult; in 1929, with the British now keen to take back
control of their own diplomatic affairs, he left Russia. He was
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER
FINAL RETURN TO NORWAY
Having spent nine of the previous twelve years abroad, but with no
practical experience in party politics outside the Norwegian Army,
Quisling returned to Norway in December 1929, bringing with him a plan
for change he termed Norsk Aktion, meaning "Norwegian Action." The
planned organisation consisted of national, regional and local units
with the intention of recruiting in the style of the Soviet Communist
Party . Like
Quisling next sold a large number of antiques and works of art that
he had acquired cheaply in post-revolutionary Russia. His collection
stretched to some 200 paintings, including works claimed to be by
After Nansen died on 13 May 1930,
Quisling used his friendship with
the editor of the
Tidens Tegn newspaper to get his analysis of Nansen
onto the front page. The article was entitled "Politiske tanker ved
Fridtjof Nansens død" ("Political Thoughts on the Death of Fridtjof
Nansen") and was published on 24 May. In the article, he outlined ten
points that would complete Nansen's vision as applied to Norway, among
them "strong and just government" and a "greater emphasis on race and
heredity." This theme was followed up in his new book, Russia and
Ourselves(Norwegian : Russland og vi), which was serialised in Tidens
Tegn during the autumn of 1930. Advocating war against Bolshevism,
the openly racist book catapulted
Quisling into the political
limelight. Despite his earlier ambivalence, he took up a seat on the
Quisling left Nordisk folkereisning i Norge in May of 1931 to serve
as defence minister in the Agrarian government of
Peder Kolstad ,
despite being neither an Agrarian nor a friend of Kolstad. He had
been suggested to Kolstad for the post by
Thorvald Aadahl , editor of
the Agrarian newspaper
In mid-1932 Nordisk folkereisning i Norge was forced to confirm that even though Quisling remained in the cabinet, he would not become a member of the party. They further stated that the party programme had no basis in fascism of any kind, including the National Socialism model. This did not dampen criticism of Quisling, who remained constantly in the headlines, although he was gradually earning a reputation as a disciplined and efficient administrator. After he was attacked in his office by a knife-wielding assailant who threw ground pepper in his face on 2 February 1932, some newspapers, instead of focusing on the attack itself, suggested that the assailant had been the jealous husband of one of Quisling's cleaners; others, especially those aligned with the Labour Party, posited that the whole thing had been staged. In November of 1932, Labour politician Johan Nygaardsvold put this theory to Parliament, prompting suggestions that charges of slander be brought against him. No charges were brought, and the identity of the assailant has never been confirmed. Quisling later indicated it was an attempt to steal military papers recently left by Swedish Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm Kleen . The so-called "pepper affair" served to polarise opinion about Quisling, and government fears grew concerning reasonably open Soviet elements in Norway who had been active in promoting industrial unrest.
Following Kolstad's death in March of 1932, Quisling retained his post as defence minister in the second Agrarian government under Jens Hundseid for political reasons, though they remained in bitter opposition throughout. Just as he had been under Kolstad, Quisling was involved in many of the spats that characterised Hundseid's government. On 8 April that year, Quisling had a chance to defend himself over the pepper affair in Parliament, but instead used the opportunity to attack the Labour and Communist parties, claiming that named members were criminals and "enemies of our fatherland and our people." Support for Quisling from right-wing elements in Norwegian society rocketed overnight, and 153 distinguished signatories called for Quisling's claims to be investigated. In the coming months, tens of thousands of Norwegians followed suit and Quisling's summer was full of speeches to packed political rallies. In Parliament, however, Quisling's speech was viewed as political suicide; not only was his evidence weak, but questions were raised as to why the information had not been handed over much sooner if the revolutionary threat were so serious.
POPULAR PARTY LEADER
Over the course of 1932 and into 1933, Prytz's influence over Nordisk
folkereisning i Norge weakened and lawyer
Johan Bernhard Hjort assumed
the leadership role. Hjort was keen to work with
Quisling because of
his new-found popularity, and they devised a new programme of
right-wing policies including proscription of revolutionary parties
including those funded by foreign bodies such as
Comintern , the
suspension of the voting rights for people in receipt of social
welfare , agricultural debt relief, and an audit of public finances.
In 1932, during the Kullmann Affair ,
Quisling turned on the prime
minister for questioning his hard-line stance over pacifist agitator
Despite the new programme, some of Quisling's circle still favoured a
cabinet coup. He later said he had even considered the use of force to
overthrow the government but, in late February, it was the Liberal
Party that brought them down. With the assistance of Hjort and Prytz,
Nordisk folkereisning i Norge quickly became a political party,
Nasjonal Samling , or NS, literally "National Unity," ready to contest
the forthcoming October election.
Quisling was mildly disappointed and
would have preferred to head a national movement, not just one of
seven political parties.
Nasjonal Samling soon afterwards announced it
would support candidates from other parties if they supported its key
aim of "establishing a strong and stable national government
independent of ordinary party politics." Although not an overnight
success in the already crowded political spectrum, the party slowly
gained support. With its Nazi-inspired belief in the central authority
of a strong
Führer , as well as its powerful propaganda elements, it
gained support from many among the
Increased support also materialised when the Bygdefolkets Krisehjelp , the Norwegian Farmers' Aid Association, sought financial aid from Nasjonal Samling, who in turn gained political influence and a useful existing network of well-trained party officers. Quisling's party never managed a grand anti-socialist coalition, however, in part because of competition from the Conservative Party for right-wing votes. Though Quisling remained unable to demonstrate any skill as an orator, his reputation for scandal nonetheless ensured that the electorate were aware of Nasjonal Samling's existence. As a result, the party showed only moderate success in the October elections , with 27,850 votes—approximately two per cent of the national vote, and about three and a half per cent of the vote in constituencies where it fielded candidates. This made it the fifth largest party in Norway, out-polling the Communists but not the Conservative, Labour, Liberal or Agrarian parties, and failing to secure a single seat in Parliament.
FøRER OF A PARTY IN DECLINE
After the underwhelming election results, Quisling's attitude to negotiation and compromise hardened. A final attempt to form a coalition of the right in March of 1934 came to nothing, and from late 1933, Quisling's Nasjonal Samling began to carve out its own form of national socialism. With no leader in Parliament, however, the party struggled to introduce the constitutional reform bill needed to achieve its lofty ambitions. When Quisling tried to introduce the bill directly, it was swiftly rejected, and the party went into decline. In the summer of 1935, headlines quoted Quisling telling opponents that "heads roll" as soon as he achieved power. The threat irreparably damaged the image of his party, and over the following few months several high-ranking members resigned, including Kai Fjell and Quisling's brother Jørgen.
Quisling began to familiarise himself with the international fascist
movement, attending the
1934 Montreux Fascist conference in December.
For his party, the association with
Italian fascism could not have
come at a worse time, so soon after headlines of illegal Italian
incursions into Abyssinia . On his return trip from Montreux, he met
Dwindling party membership created many problems for Quisling,
especially financial ones. For years he had been in financial
difficulties and reliant on his inheritance, while increasing numbers
of his paintings were found to be copies when he tried to sell them.
Vidkun and his brother Arne sold one
WORLD WAR II
COMING OF WAR
Quisling turned his attention towards Norway's preparations
for the anticipated European war, which he believed involved a drastic
increase in the country's defence spending to guarantee its
Quisling presented lectures entitled "The
Jewish problem in Norway" and supported
For the next nine months, Quisling continued to lead a party that was at best peripheral to Norwegian politics. He was nonetheless active, and in October of 1939 he worked with Prytz on an ultimately unsuccessful plan for peace between Britain, France and Germany and their eventual participation in a new economic union. Quisling also mused on how Germany ought to go on the offensive against its then-ally the Soviet Union, and on 9 December travelled to Germany to present his multi-faceted plans. After impressing German officials, he won an audience with Hitler himself, scheduled for 14 December, whereupon he received firm advice from his contacts that the most useful thing he could do would be to ask for Hitler's help with a pro-German coup in Norway, that would let the Germans use Norway as a naval base. Thereafter, Norway would maintain official neutrality as long as possible, and finally the country would fall under German rather than British control. It is not clear how much Quisling himself understood about the strategic implications of such a move, and he instead relied on his future Minister of Domestic Affairs, Albert Hagelin , who was fluent in German, to put the relevant arguments to German officials in Berlin during pre-meeting talks, even though Hagelin was prone to damaging exaggeration at times. Quisling and his German contacts almost certainly went away with different views as to whether they had agreed upon the necessity of a German invasion.
On 14 December 1939,
Quisling met Hitler. The German leader promised
to respond to any British invasion of Norway (
Plan R 4 ), perhaps
pre-emptively, with a German counter-invasion, but found Quisling's
plans for both a Norwegian coup and an Anglo-German peace unduly
Quisling would still receive funds to bolster
Nasjonal Samling. The two men met again four days later, and
Quisling wrote a memorandum that explicitly told Hitler
that he did not consider himself a National Socialist. As German
Quisling was intentionally kept in the dark.
He was also incapacitated by a severe bout of illness, probably
nephritis in both kidneys, for which he refused hospitalisation.
Though he returned to work on 13 March 1940, he remained ill for
several weeks. In the meantime, the
GERMAN INVASION AND COUP D\'éTAT
See also: Quisling regime § 1940 coup
In the early hours of 9 April 1940, Germany invaded Norway by air and
sea, as "Operation Weserübung," or "Operation Weser Exercise,"
intending to capture King Haakon VII and the government of Prime
Johan Nygaardsvold . However, alert to the possibility of
invasion, Conservative President of the Parliament C. J. Hambro
arranged for their evacuation to
Hamar in the east of the country.
The Blücher , a German cruiser which carried most of the personnel
intended to take over Norway's administration, was sunk by cannon fire
and torpedoes from
Oscarsborg Fortress in the
In the afternoon, Quisling was told by German liaison Hans Wilhelm Scheidt that should he set up a government, it would have Hitler's personal approval. Quisling drew up a list of ministers and, although it had merely relocated some 50 kilometres (31 mi) to Elverum , accused the legitimate government of having "fled."
Meanwhile, the Germans occupied
Quisling now reached the high-water mark of his political power. On 10 April, Bräuer travelled to Elverum where the legitimate Nygaardsvold government now sat. On Hitler's orders, he demanded that King Haakon appoint Quisling head of a new government, thereby securing a peaceful transition of power. Haakon rejected this demand. He went further in a meeting with his cabinet, letting it be known that he would sooner abdicate than appoint any government headed by Quisling. Hearing this, the government unanimously voted to support the king's stance. It also urged the people to continue their resistance. With his popular support gone, Quisling ceased to be of use to Hitler. Germany retracted its support for his rival government, preferring instead to build up its own independent governing commission. In this way, Quisling was manoeuvred out of power by Bräuer and a coalition of his former allies, including Hjort, who now saw him as a liability. Even his political allies, including Prytz, deserted him.
In return, Hitler wrote to Quisling thanking him for his good-faith efforts to prevent him from losing face(perhaps should he become a future Norwegian leader), guaranteeing him some sort of position in the new government. The transfer of power on these terms was duly enacted on 15 April, with Hitler still confident the Administrative Council would receive the backing of the king. Quisling's domestic and international reputation both hit new lows, casting him as both a traitor and a failure.
HEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT
See also: Quisling regime
Once the king had declared the German commission unlawful, it became clear that he would never be won over. An impatient Hitler appointed a German, Josef Terboven , as the new Norwegian Reichskommissar , or Governor-General, on 24 April, reporting directly to him. Despite Hitler's assurances, Terboven wanted to make sure that there would be no room in the government for the Nasjonal Samling nor its leader Quisling, with whom he did not get along. Terboven eventually accepted a certain Nasjonal Samling presence in the government during June, but remained unconvinced about Quisling. As a result, on 25 June, Terboven forced Quisling to step down as leader of the Nasjonal Samling and take a temporary leave of absence in Germany. Quisling remained there until 20 August, while Rosenberg and Admiral Erich Raeder , whom he had met on his earlier visit to Berlin, negotiated on his behalf. In the end, Quisling returned "in triumph," having won Hitler over in a meeting on 16 August. The Reichskommissar would now have to accommodate Quisling as leader of the government, then allow him to rebuild the Nasjonal Samling and bring more of his men into the cabinet. Terboven complied and addressed the Norwegian people in a radio broadcast in which he asserted that the Nasjonal Samling would be the only political party allowed.
As a result, by the end of 1940 the monarchy had been suspended
Parliament of Norway
On 5 December 1940,
Quisling flew to Berlin to negotiate the future
of Norway's independence. By the time he returned on 13 December, he
had agreed to raise volunteers to fight with the German Schutzstaffel
(SS). In January, SS head
Quisling was shattered by the death of his mother Anna, as
the two had been particularly close. At the same time, the political
crisis over Norwegian independence deepened, with
Terboven with his resignation over the issue of finance. In the end,
Reichskommissar agreed to compromise on the issue, but Quisling
had to concede on the SS issue: A brigade was formed, but as a branch
of the Nasjonal Samling. Vidkun
Quisling (left) and
Josef Terboven (center) inspects an honorary
Meanwhile, the government line hardened, with Communist Party leaders
arrested and trade unionists intimidated. On 10 September 1941, Viggo
Rolf Wickstrøm were executed and many more imprisoned
following the milk strike in Oslo. Hansteen's execution was later seen
as a watershed moment, dividing the occupation into its more innocent
and more deadly phases. The same year the
In January 1942, Terboven announced the German administration would be wound down. Soon afterwards he told Quisling that Hitler had approved the transfer of power, scheduled for 30 January. Quisling remained doubtful it would happen since Germany and Norway were in the midst of complex peace negotiations that could not be completed until peace had been reached on the Eastern Front , while Terboven insisted that the Reichskommissariat would remain in power until such peace came about. Quisling could nevertheless be reasonably confident that his position within the party and with Berlin was unassailable, even if he was unpopular within Norway, something of which he was well aware.
After a brief postponement, an announcement was made on 1 February 1942, detailing how the cabinet had elected Quisling to the post of Minister-President of the national government. The appointment was accompanied by a banquet, rallying and other celebrations by the Nasjonal Samling members. In his first speech, Quisling committed the government to closer ties with Germany. The only change to the Constitution was the reinstatement of the ban on Jewish entry into Norway , which had been abolished in 1851 .
Quisling's office at the Royal Palace, into which he moved in February of 1942.
His new position gave Quisling a security of tenure he had not previously enjoyed, although the Reichskommissariat remained outside his control. A month later, in February of 1942, Quisling made his first state visit to Berlin. It was a productive trip, in which all key issues of Norwegian independence were discussed--but Joseph Goebbels in particular remained unconvinced of Quisling's credentials, noting that it was "unlikely" he would "...ever make a great statesman."
Back at home, Quisling was now less concerned about Nasjonal Samling's membership and even wanted action to clean up the membership list, including purging it of drunkards. On 12 March, Norway officially became a one-party state. In time, criticism of, and resistance to, the party was criminalised, though Quisling expressed regret for having to take this step, hoping that every Norwegian would freely come around to accept his government.
This optimism was short-lived. In the course of the summer of 1942, Quisling lost any ability he might have had to sway public opinion by attempting to force children into the Nasjonal Samlings Ungdomsfylking youth organisation, which was modelled on the Hitler Youth . This move prompted a mass resignation of teachers from their professional body and churchmen from their posts, along with large-scale civil unrest. His attempted indictment of Bishop Eivind Berggrav proved similarly controversial, even amongst his German allies. Quisling now toughened his stance, telling Norwegians that they would have the new regime forced upon them "whether they like it or not." On 1 May, the German High Command noted that "organised resistance to Quisling has started" and Norway's peace talks with Germany stalled as a result. On 11 August, Hitler postponed any further peace negotiations until the war ended. Quisling was admonished and learned that Norway would not get the independence he so greatly yearned for. As an added insult, for the first time he was forbidden to write letters directly to Hitler.
Quisling had earlier pushed for a corporate alternative to the Parliament of Norway, the Storting, which he called a Riksting. It would comprise two chambers, the Næringsting (Economic Chamber) and Kulturting (Cultural Chamber). Now, in advance of Nasjonal Samling's eighth and last national convention on 25 September and becoming increasingly distrustful of professional bodies, he changed his mind. The Riksting became an advisory body while the Førerting, or Fører Council, and parliamentary chambers were now to be independent bodies subordinate to their respective ministries.
After the convention, support for Nasjonal Samling, and Quisling
personally, ebbed away. Increased factionalism and personal losses,
including the accidental death of fellow politician
Gulbrand Lunde ,
were compounded by heavy-handed German tactics, such as the shooting
of ten well-known residents of
With government abatement and Quisling's personal engagement, Jews
were registered in a German initiative of January of 1942. On 26
October, German forces, with help from the Norwegian police, arrested
300 registered male Jews in Norway and sent them to concentration
camps , most in Berg and manned by
On 26 November, the detainees were deported, along with their families. Although this was an entirely German initiative--Quisling himself was left unaware although government assistance was provided-- Quisling led the Norwegian public to believe that the first deportation of Jews, to camps in Poland, was his idea. A further 250 were deported in February of 1943, and it remains unclear what the party's official position was on the eventual fate of the 759 Norwegian deportees. There is evidence to suggest that Quisling honestly believed the official line throughout 1943 and 1944, that they were awaiting repatriation to a new Jewish homeland .
At the same time,
Quisling believed that the only way he could win
back Hitler's respect would be to raise volunteers for the
now-faltering German war effort, and he committed Norway
wholeheartedly to German plans to wage total war . For him at least,
after the German defeat at Stalingrad in February of 1943, Norway now
had a part to play in keeping the German empire strong. In April of
Quisling delivered a scathing speech attacking Germany's refusal
to outline its plans for post-war Europe. When he put this to Hitler
in person, the
Quisling tired during the final years of the war. In 1942 he passed 231 laws, 166 in 1943, and 139 in 1944. Social policy was the one area that still received significant attention. By that autumn, Quisling and Mussert in the Netherlands could be satisfied they had at least survived. In 1944, the weight problems Quisling had been having during the preceding two years also eased.
Despite the increasingly dire military outlook, Nasjonal Samling's
position at the head of the government, albeit with its ambiguous
relationship to the Reichskommissariat, remained unassailable.
Nevertheless, the Germans exerted increasing control over law and
order in Norway. Following deportation of the Jews, Germany deported
Norwegian officers and finally attempted to deport students from the
On 20 January 1945,
Quisling made what would be his final trip to
visit Hitler. He promised Norwegian support in the final phase of the
war if Germany agreed to a peace deal that would remove Norway's
affairs from German intervention. This proposal grew out of a fear
that as German forces retreated southwards through Norway, the
occupation government would have to struggle to keep control in
northern Norway. To the horror of the
Quisling regime, the Nazis
instead decided on a scorched earth policy in northern Norway, going
so far as to shoot Norwegian civilians who refused to evacuate the
region. The period was also marked by increasing civilian casualties
from Allied air raids, and mounting resistance to the government
within occupied Norway. The meeting with the German leader proved
unsuccessful and upon being asked to sign the execution order of
thousands of Norwegian "saboteurs,"
Quisling refused, an act of
defiance that so enraged Terboven, acting on Hitler's orders, that he
stormed out of the negotiations. On recounting the events of the trip
to a friend,
Quisling broke down in tears, convinced the
Quisling spent the last months of the war trying to prevent Norwegian deaths in the showdown that was developing between German and Allied forces in Norway. The regime worked for the safe repatriation of Norwegians held in German prisoner-of-war camps . Privately, Quisling had long accepted that National Socialism would be defeated. Hitler's suicide on 30 April 1945 left him free to pursue publicly his chosen end-game, a naïve offer of a transition to a power-sharing government with the government-in-exile.
On 7 May, Quisling ordered police not to offer armed resistance to the Allied advance except in self-defence or against overt members of the Norwegian resistance movement. The same day, Germany announced it would surrender unconditionally, making Quisling's position untenable. A realist, Quisling met military leaders of the resistance on the following day to discuss how he would be arrested. Quisling declared whilst he did not want to be treated as a common criminal, he did not want preferential treatment compared to his Nasjonal Samling colleagues. He argued he could have kept his forces fighting until the end, but had chosen not to so as to avoid turning "Norway into a battlefield." Instead he tried to ensure a peaceful transition. In return, the resistance offered full trials for all accused Nasjonal Samling members after the war and its leadership agreed he could be incarcerated in a house rather than a prison complex.
ARREST, TRIAL, DEATH, AND LEGACY
See also: Legal purge in Norway after
World War II
The civil leadership of the resistance, represented by lawyer Sven
Arntzen , demanded
Quisling be treated like any other murder suspect
and, on 9 May,
Quisling and his ministers turned themselves in to
Quisling was transferred to Cell 12 in
After ten weeks being constantly watched to prevent suicide attempts
in police custody, he was transferred to
Initially, Quisling's charges related to the coup, including his revocation of the mobilisation order, to his time as Nasjonal Samling leader and to his actions as Minister President, such as assisting the enemy and illegally attempting to alter the constitution. Finally, he was accused of Gunnar Eilifsen 's murder. Whilst not contesting the key facts, he denied all charges on the grounds that he had always worked for a free and prosperous Norway, and submitted a sixty-page response. On 11 July, a further indictment was brought, adding a raft of new charges, including more murders, theft, embezzlement and, most worrying of all for Quisling, the charge of conspiring with Hitler over the 9 April occupation of Norway.
“ I know that the Norwegian people have sentenced me to death, and that the easiest course for me would be to take my own life. But I want to let history reach its own verdict. Believe me, in ten years' time I will have become another Saint Olav . ”
— Quisling to Bjørn Foss , 8 May 1945, Dahl 1999 , p. 367
The trial opened on 20 August 1945. Quisling's defence rested on downplaying his unity with Germany and stressing that he had fought for total independence, something that seemed completely contrary to the recollections of many Norwegians. From that point on, wrote biographer Dahl, Quisling had to tread a "fine line between truth and falsehood," and emerged from it "an elusive and often pitiful figure." He misrepresented the truth on several occasions and the entirely truthful majority of his statements won him few advocates in the country at large, where he remained almost universally despised.
In the later days of the trial, Quisling's health suffered, largely as a result of the number of medical tests to which he was subjected, and his defence faltered. The prosecution's powerful final speech placed responsibility for the Final Solution being carried out in Norway at the feet of Quisling, using the testimony of German officials. The prosecutor Annæus Schjødt called for the death penalty , using laws introduced by the government-in-exile in October 1941 and January 1942. Quisling's residence Villa Grande in 1945, which he called " Gimlé ," a name taken from Norse mythology .
Erudite speeches by both Bergh and Quisling himself could not change the outcome. When the verdict was announced on 10 September, Quisling was convicted on all but a handful of minor charges and sentenced to death.
An October appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected. The court
process was judged to be "a model of fairness" in a commentary by
author Maynard Cohen. After giving testimony in a number of other
Nasjonal Samling members,
Quisling was executed by firing
His widow Maria lived in
To his supporters, Quisling was regarded as a conscientious administrator of the highest order, knowledgeable and with an eye for detail. Balanced and gentle to a fault, they believed he cared deeply about his people and maintained high moral standards throughout. To his opponents, Quisling was unstable and undisciplined, abrupt, even threatening. Quite possibly he was both, at ease among friends and under pressure when confronted with his political opponents, and generally shy and retiring with both. During formal dinners he often said nothing at all except for the occasional cascade of dramatic rhetoric. Indeed, he did not react well to pressure and would often let slip over-dramatic sentiments when put on the spot. Normally open to criticism, he was prone to assuming larger groups were conspiratorial.
Post-war interpretations of Quisling's character are similarly mixed. After the war collaborationist behaviour was popularly viewed as a result of mental deficiency, leaving the personality of the clearly more intelligent Quisling an "enigma." He was instead seen as weak, paranoid, intellectually sterile and power-hungry: ultimately "muddled rather than thoroughly corrupted."
The Norwegian sociologist
During his time in office, Quisling rose early, often having completed several hours of work before arriving at the office between 9:30 and 10:00. He liked to intervene in virtually all government matters, reading all letters addressed to him or his chancellery personally and marking a surprising number for action. Quisling was independently-minded, made several key decisions on the spot and, unlike his German counterpart, he liked to follow procedure to ensure that government remained "a dignified and civilised" affair throughout. He took a personal interest in the administration of Fyresdal, where he was born.
He rejected German racial supremacy and instead saw the Norwegian race as the progenitor of northern Europe, tracing his own family tree in his spare time. Party members did not receive preferential treatment, though Quisling did not himself share in the wartime hardships of his fellow Norwegians. Nevertheless, many gifts went unused and he did not live extravagantly.
RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS
Quisling's library included the works of a number of eminent philosophers.
Quisling was interested in science, Eastern religions and metaphysics, eventually building up a library that included the works of Spinoza , Kant , Hegel , and Schopenhauer . He kept up with developments in the realm of quantum physics , but did not keep up with more current philosophical ideas. He blended philosophy and science into a new religion he called Universism, or Universalism, which was a unified explanation of everything. His original writings stretched to a claimed two thousand pages. He rejected the basic teachings of orthodox Christianity and established a new theory of life, which he called Universism, a term borrowed from a textbook which Jan Jakob Maria de Groot had written on Chinese philosophy . De Groot's book argued that Tao, Confucianism and Buddhism were all part of a world religion that De Groot called Universism. Quisling described how his philosophy "...followed from the universal theory of relativity , of which the specific and general theories of relativity are special instances." Quisling wanted universism to be the official state religion of his new Norway, and he said "the positing of such a system depends on the progress of science."
His magnum opus was divided into four parts: an introduction; a description of mankind's apparent progression from individual to increasing complex consciousnesses; a section on his tenets of morality and law; and a final section on science, art, politics, history, race and religion. The conclusion was to be titled The World's Organic Classification and Organisation, but the work remained unfinished. Generally, Quisling worked on it infrequently during his time in politics. The biographer Hans Fredrik Dahl describes this as "fortunate" since Quisling would "never have won recognition" as a philosopher.
During his trial and particularly after being sentenced, Quisling became interested once more in Universism. He saw the events of the war as part of the move towards the establishment of God's kingdom on earth and justified his actions in those terms. During the first week of October, he wrote a fifty-page document titled Universistic Aphorisms, which represented "...an almost ecstatic revelation of truth and the light to come, which bore the mark of nothing less than a prophet." The document was also notable for its attack on the materialism of National Socialism. In addition, he simultaneously worked on a sermon, Eternal Justice, which reiterated his key beliefs, including reincarnation.
* ^ Increasingly bitter over the treatment he had received from the
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* ^ Attempts to establish exactly what the
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to VIDKUN QUISLING .
* Block, Maxine, ed. (1940).
Current Biography Yearbook . New York,
United States: H. W. Wilson.
* Cohen, Maynard M. (2000). A stand against tyranny: Norway\'s
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* Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1999). Quisling: A Study in Treachery.
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* Galtung, Johan (1997). "Is There a Therapy for Pathological
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* Hayes, Paul M. (1966). "Quisling's Political Ideas". Journal of
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* Barth, E. M. (1996). Gud, det er meg: Vidkun
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Quisling – hans bakgrunn og vei inn i norsk politikk (in Norwegian)
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* Yourieff, Alexandra Andreevna Voronine; Yourieff, W. George; Seaver, Kirsten A. (2007). In Quisling\'s shadow: the memoirs of Vidkun Quisling\'s first wife, Alexandra. Stanford , United States: Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8179-4832-0 .
* Vidkun Quisling: "Russland und Wir", 1942, (A German book written by Vidkun Quisling about Russia)
Preceded by Office created MINISTER PRESIDENT OF NORWAY