Victory in Europe! With a Norwegian Twist
This guest blog is written by Classic Journeys Norwegian tour leader, Vibeke, who lives with her husband (and currently two sons and their girlfriends) on a beautiful farm outside of Oslo.
We are celebrating Norway’s 75 years of freedom today!
After being occupied by Hitler’s Nazi Germany for five long years, finally, on May 8, 1945, the citizens of Norway could yet again carry the Norwegian banner without being arrested or deported.
Even 75 years later, Norwegian flags are flying everywhere. While its very common to see them on government buildings, especially on VE Day, we don’t usually see them flying at most private households. I think they are today because of everything we and the world are going through by voluntarily giving up many of our freedoms of movement. That’s me on my balcony, hanging out the flag this morning.
Agent 24 aka “The Cheeks”
Classic Journeys guests who have explored Norway with me will recognize the man on the bicycle as Gunnar Sønsteby. Known by his nickname “Kjakan” (“The Cheeks”) and as “Agent No. 24”, he was the most highly decorated citizen in Norway, including being the only person to have been awarded the War Cross with three swords, Norway’s highest military decoration. He was caught by the Swedes and the Gestapo on several occasions, escaping each time. Gunnar was active in the underground press, as well as something perfectly Norwegian—a ski resistance company.
FDR and the Crown Prince
Not many Americans are aware that President Franklin Roosevelt hosted the Norwegian royal family during the war. He became very close friends with Norwegian Crown Prince Olav and his wife, Princess Martha. On the last day of our tour, in Bergen, I take our guests to our resistance museum as we are exploring the beautiful UNESCO protected fishing village. While there we often talk about FDR’s famous wartime speech, ‘Look to Norway’. A phrase from the speech resonated then with Norwegians and still does:
“If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway.”
“Å snakke rett fra leveren”
That means literally ‘To speak directly from the liver’ or ‘To speak plainly without sugar-coating’. And so, I’ll end this note by saying, ‘Å snakke rett fra leveren’, to all those who gave their lives for our freedom, especially the US army!
Read more posts by Classic Journeys Norway guide, Vibeke:
Seven Surprising Facts about Norway
Norway during Coronavirus