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Vidkun Quisling

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling (July 18, 1887October 24, 1945) was the most infamous traitor in the history of Norway. A Norwegian politician and Army officer, he held the office of Minister President of Norway in a puppet government under the Nazi occupation of Norway from February 1 1942 to the end of World War II. During this time, the elected social democratic cabinet of Johan Nygaardsvold was exiled in London. Quisling was convicted of high treason and executed by firing squad after the war.

The term "Quisling" has become a synonym in many European languages, including English, for traitor (see Judas, and the understanding of Benedict Arnold in the United States).

Vidkun Quisling
Vidkun Quisling

Quisling had a mixed and relatively successful background, having achieved the rank of major in the Norwegian army (some years before he had become the country's best ever war academy cadet upon graduation), and worked with Fridtjof Nansen in the Soviet Union during the famine in the 1920s, as well as having served as defense minister in the agrarian government 1931-1933. He was son of the Lutheran minister and well-known genealogist Jon Lauritz Qvisling and both of his parents belonged to some of the oldest and most distinguished families of Telemark.

On May 17 1933, the Norwegian Constitution Day, Quisling and state attorney Johan Bernhard Hjort formed Nasjonal Samling (NS) ("National Unity"), the Norwegian fascist party. Nasjonal Samling had an anti-democratic, Führerprinzip-based political structure, and Quisling was to be the party's Führer, much like Adolf Hitler was for the NSDAP in Germany. The party went on to have modest successes, in the election of 1933, four months after the party was formed, it garnered 27850 votes, following support from the Norwegian Farmer's Aid Association, with which Quisling had connections from his time as a member of the Agrarian government. However, as the party line changed from a religiously rooted one to a more pro-German and anti-Semitic hardline policy from 1935 onwards, the support from the Church waned, and in the 1936 elections, the party got ca.50 000 votes. The party became increasingly extremist, and party membership dwindled to an estimated 2000 members after the German invasion.

When Germany invaded Norway on April 9 1940, Quisling became the first person in history to announce a coup during a news broadcast, declaring an ad-hoc government during the confusion of the invasion, hoping that the Germans would support it. The background for this action was the flight northwards of the King and the government. Quisling had visited Adolf Hitler in Germany the year before, and was liked by Hitler, so Quisling's belief that the Germans would back his government were not entirely unfounded. However, Quisling had low popular support, and the Quisling government lasted only five days, after which Josef Terboven was installed as Reichskommissar (Commissioner), the highest authority in Norway, reporting directly to Hitler. The relationship between Quisling and Terboven was tense, although Terboven, presumably seeing an advantage in having a Norwegian in a position of power to reduce resentment in the population, named Quisling to the post of "Minister President" (as opposed to Prime Minister) in 1942, a position the self-appointed "Führer" assumed in 1943, on February 1.

Vidkun Quisling stayed in power until he was arrested May 9 1945 in a mansion on Bygdøy in Oslo which he called Gimle after the place in Norse mythology where the survivors of Ragnarok were to live.

Quisling, along with two other Nasjonal Samling leaders, Albert Viljam Hagelin and Ragnar Skancke, were convicted and executed by firing squad. In later days these sentences have been controversial, since the capital punishment was reintroduced to the Norwegian legal system during the end of the war, by the exile government, to handle the post war trials.

Maria Vasilijevna, Quisling's Russian wife, lived in Oslo until her death in 1980. They had no children.


In Norwegian:

  • Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1991): Quisling - En fører blir til. Oslo: Aschehoug (BIBSYS)
  • Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1992): Quisling - En fører for fall. Oslo: Aschehoug (BIBSYS)
  • Borgen, Per Otto (1999): Norges statsministre. Oslo: Aschehoug (BIBSYS)

See also

Last updated: 08-16-2005 10:17:29