Vidkun Quisling

Vidkun Quisling

Infobox Politician
name= Vidkun Quisling
order = Minister President of Norway

term_start = 1 February 1942
term_end = 9 May 1945
order2 = Minister of Defence
term_start2 = 1931
term_end2 = 1933
primeminister2 = Peder Kolstad (1931–1932) Jens Hundseid (1932–1933)
predecessor2 = Torgeir Anderssen-Rysst
successor2 = Jens Isak Kobro
birth_date = birth date|1887|7|18|df=y
birth_place = Telemark, Norway
death_date = death date and age|1945|10|24|1887|7|18|df=y
death_place = Oslo, Norway
spouse = Maria Vasilijevna Quisling
party = Agrarian Party (1933) Nasjonal Samling (1933–45)
profession =

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling (18 July 1887 – 24 October 1945) was a Norwegian army officer and politician. He worked with Fridtjof Nansen during the famine in the Soviet Union, and served as Minister of Defense in the Bondepartiet government 1931-1933. In 1933 he founded the nationalist party Nasjonal Samling (National Unity), and during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, he served as Minister-President of Norway, after being appointed by the German authorities. After the war he was tried for high treason and subsequently executed by firing squad.

Early life

Quisling was the son of a Church of Norway pastor and genealogist, Jon Lauritz Quisling, who preferred to be called "Qvisling" from Fyresdal. Other ancient names of the family were "Quislinus" or "Quislin"fact|date=September 2008. Both of his parents belonged to old and distinguished families of Telemark.

When Quisling was still in his early teens, he was known for having a flair for mathematics, and he sent in corrections to a national mathematical textbook. Impressed by the age of the boy, the editors made the corrections, and included his name and some adulation as encouragement for other young boys to pay attention to their mathematics. Such was the hatred associated with his name after the war that all editions since have kept the corrections and adulation but changed all references to his name to 'en gutt' ('a boy').

His early life was varied and successful; he became the country's best war-academy cadet upon graduation in 1911, and achieved the rank of major in the Norwegian army. He worked with Fridtjof Nansen in the Soviet Union during the famine of the 1920s. For his services in looking after British interests after having broken diplomatic relations with the Bolshevik government, Great Britain awarded him the CBE (which was later revoked). He later served as defense minister in the Agrarian governments from 1931 to 1933.

Religion and metaphysical yearnings

Already as a child, Quisling was interested in religion and metaphysics, and his ponderings upon this subject never abated. He went as far as expounding his own religion, called "Universalism", an elaboration and development of sorts of Christianity. It is presented as an addendum in the book containing the extant diaries and letters of Maria Quisling.

The Nasjonal Samling party

On 17 May 1933, Norwegian Constitution Day, Quisling and lawyer Johan Bernhard Hjort formed Nasjonal Samling ("National Unity"), the Norwegian fascist political party. Nasjonal Samling had an anti-democratic, "Führerprinzip"-based political structure, and Quisling was to be the party's "Fører" (Norwegian: "leader", equivalent of the German "Führer"). He was sometimes referred to as "the Hitler of Norway". The party went on to have modest successes; in the election of 1933, four months after the party was formed, it garnered 27,850 votes (approximately 2%), following support from the Norwegian Farmers' 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-Nazi and anti-Semitic policy from 1935 on, Church support waned, and in the 1936 elections the party received fewer votes than in 1933. The party became increasingly extremist, and party membership dwindled to an estimated 2,000 before the German invasion, but under the German occupation by 1945 some 45,000 Norwegians had become members of the party.

German invasion and "coup d'état"

On 9 April 1940, Germany invaded Norway by air and sea. The German plan was to capture King Haakon VII and the government of Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold, after which Quisling would be recognized as Prime Minister of a puppet government. ["Current Biography" 1940, pp 669-70]

On 9 April, however, without waiting for recognition, Quisling burst into the NRK studios in Oslo and broadcast a proclamation naming himself Prime Minister and ordering all resistance to halt at once. In hindsight, this treasonous act doomed any chance of persuading Norway to surrender (as Denmark had the previous day). King Haakon let it be known he would abdicate before appointing any government headed by Quisling, and the government urged the people to continue to resist. With no popular support, Quisling was no longer of use to Hitler.

Later that same month he tried again to organize a government under Josef Terboven, who had been installed as Reichskommissar, reporting directly to Hitler. The relationship between Quisling and Terboven was tense, however, and Quisling was unable to find any prominent Norwegians willing to serve as ministers in his Cabinet.

On 25 September 1940 Gauleiter Terboven broadcast to the Norwegian people. Terboven said he had tried in vain to negotiate with the old parties and that the Quisling movement would be the only one tolerated in the future. ["Shirer, William L, "Berlin Diary", 1941, Hamish Hamilton, London," ]

Terboven, seeing an advantage in having a Norwegian in an apparent position of power, declared the monarchy to be abolished and named Quisling to the post of Minister President in 1942, a position the self-appointed "Fører" assumed on 1 February.

Arrest and trial

Quisling stayed in power until he was arrested on 9 May 1945 at Møllergata 19 in Oslo. He lived in a mansion on Bygdøy in Oslo that he called "Gimle", after the place in Norse mythology where survivors of Ragnarok were to live. The house, now called Villa Grande, is a Holocaust museum.

In the course of the treason trials, Quisling, along with two other Nasjonal Samling leaders, Albert Viljam Hagelin and Ragnar Skancke, was convicted of high treason and executed by firing squad at Akershus Fortress on 24 October 1945. The charges were based on his coup d'état in April 1940, his revocation of the mobilization order, his encouragement of Norwegians to serve in the Norwegian SS division, his assistance in the deportation of Jews, his responsibility for the execution of Norwegian patriots and a number of other charges.

Subsequently, these sentences came to be viewed as controversial, as capital punishment had only been reintroduced by the government-in-exile at the end of the war, specifically in anticipation of the post-war trials.

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


In some European languages, the term "quisling" has become a synonym for traitor, particularly one who collaborates with invaders. The term was coined by the British newspaper "The Times" in its leader of 15 April 1940, entitled "Quislings everywhere." The editorial asserted: "To writers, the word "Quisling" is a gift from the gods. If they had been ordered to invent a new word for traitor... they could hardly have hit upon a more brilliant combination of letters. Actually it contrives to suggest something at once slippery and tortuous." The noun has survived; for a while during and after the War the back-formed verb "to quisle" (pronounced "quizzle") was used. One who was "quisling" was committing treason. ["Current Biography" 1940, p669]

Order of the British Empire

Quisling had been appointed Commander of the British Empire for his services in maintaining the interests of the British government in the Soviet Union in 1929. The appointment was revoked in 1940. [The Times 13 June 1940]


Further reading

In Norwegian

* Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1991) "Quisling - En fører blir til", Oslo : Aschehoug, ISBN 82-03-15632-0 ( [ BIBSYS] )
* Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1992) "Quisling - En fører for fall", Oslo : Aschehoug, ISBN 82-03-16960-0 ( [ BIBSYS] )
* Borgen, Per Otto (1999) "Norges statsministre", Oslo: Aschehoug, ISBN 82-03-22389-3 ( [ BIBSYS] )

In English

* Høidal, Oddvar K. (1989) "Quisling: A study in treason", Oslo : Norwegian University Press (Universitetsforlaget), ISBN 82-00-18400-5
* Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1999) "Quisling: A study in treachery", Stanton-Ife, A.-M. (transl.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-49697-7

ee also

*Operation Weserübung
*Norwegian campaign
*British campaign in Norway
*Norwegian resistance movement
*Benedict Arnold

External links

* [ "The Norwegian SS Volunteers"] A webpage with information in English about the Norwegians who volunteered for service in the Waffen SS.

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