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king haakon vii

King Haakon VII

I didn’t know the story of King Haakon VII—democratically elected king of Norway!—and his noble opposition to the German National Socialist invasion of the Kingdom of Norway in 1940 until today. That such such heroism existed in the twentieth century gives me great hope for humanity.

When the Germans invaded Norway in the spring of 1940, overwhelming it in terms of numbers and technology, the king led the opposition, rallying his people to resist.

His brother, King of Denmark, did just the opposite, accepting Nazi rule, while the Swedish king did much in his power to help Hitler project his evil throughout northern Europe.

From one of the few remaining radio stations—itself, somewhat hiding in a mountainous, rural region—Haakon spoke to the Norwegians.

I am deeply affected by the responsibility laid on me if the German demand is rejected. The responsibility for the calamities that will befall people and country is indeed so grave that I dread to take it. It rests with the government to decide, but my position is clear. For my part I cannot accept the German demands. It would conflict with all that I have considered to be my duty as King of Norway since I came to this country nearly thirty-five years ago.

The decision is yours. But if you choose to accept the German demands, I must abdicate. For, I cannot appoint Quisling as prime minister.


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2 replies to this post
  1. Mr. Birzer.

    This is an outrage.

    Are you implying that the His Majesty King Christian X of Denmark willfully submitted to the rule of and collaborated with the German National Socialists?

    Let me give you a quick lesson in Danish history.

    In the early 1900’s the Danish political system went from a constitutional monarchy – where the king appointed his own government from the Rigsdag (the parliament), and played an active role in politics – to a system of liberal parliamentarism where all power was centered in the lower house (Folketinget) and neither the king – although the monarch retained his formal importance in the constitution – nor the upper house (Landsting) could act out their constitutional power anymore.

    The former system of government was an attempt to combine the seperation of power with the three types of government; Monarchy, Aristocracy (this element was seen in the upper house) and Democracy (as seen in the universal suffrage lower house). The government appoined by the king, would then cooperate with the two houses of parliament in order to legislate and such.

    But at the time of World War II, as mentioned, liberal parliamentarism had prevailed against the conservative forces in the kingdom, and thus the king in reality only played a ceremonial, consultative and diplomatic role, which meant all power was centered in the left-wing government, governing through a lower house majority. Thus you cannot judge the king for the errors of the government.

    The successive radical liberal and social democratic governments after World War I had been pursuing an increasingly pascifist foreign policy. This was especially true when it came to Germany. This resulted in the Danish armed forces which – as recent research shows – had dissuaded the Germans from invading Denmark during the First World War, being completely neglected and certainly not equipped at all at the outbreak of World War II. In this way – against the will of the king as it also happened in Sweden – the royal armed forces were in no way equipped to defend the kingdom.

    Thus when the Germans invaded, Denmark was unable to properly defend itself. Eventually, though not without Germans casualties, the danish government ordered the armed forces to stand down. This
    started the time of the so-called “collaborative coalition government”. The surrender of Denmark was inevitable, but this policy of cooperation with the Nazis was very much against the will of the king.

    During the first two years of the German occupation, in spite of his age and the precarious situation, he nonetheless took a daily ride on his horse, “Jubilee,” through Copenhagen, unaccompanied by a groom, let alone by a guard. He did this in order to demonstrate that he had not abandoned his sovereign rights in the face of the occupation. He became a national symbol of the resistance.

    When there was talk about the Danish Jews (luckily this never happened) be ordered to wear the Yellow badge (Judenstern), the king suggested that all his subjects should be ordered to wear it. This is evident from one of his journal entries: “When you look at the inhumane treatment of Jews, not only in Germany but occupied countries as well, you start worrying that such a demand might also be put on us, but we must clearly refuse such, this due to their protection under the Danish constitution. I stated that I could not meet such a demand towards Danish citizens. If such a demand is made, we would best meet it by all wearing the Star of David.”

    On October 1, 1943, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported. Despite great personal risk, the Danish resistance movement, with the assistance of many ordinary Danish citizens, managed to evacuate 7,220 of Denmark’s 7,800 Jews, plus 686 non-Jewish spouses, by sea to nearby neutral Sweden. King Christian X personally helped finance this evacuation.

    The king also triggered a diplomatic crisis between the Danish and German governments. In 1942, Adolf Hitler sent the king a long telegram congratulating him on his seventy-second birthday. The king’s reply telegram was a mere, Spreche Meinen besten Dank aus. Chr. Rex (English: Giving my best thanks, King Christian). This perceived slight, known as the Telegram Crisis, greatly outraged Hitler and he immediately recalled his ambassador from Copenhagen and expelled the Danish ambassador from Germany. German pressure then resulted in the dismissal of the government led by Vilhelm Buhl and its replacement with a new cabinet, which the Germans expected would be more cooperative.

    In the end, in 1943, the Germans officially dissolved the Danish government and instituted martial law. Thus ending the time of the collaborative government, and, more or less, sparking the time of official Danish resistance. In September 1943, a variety of resistance groups grouped together in the Danish Freedom Council, which coordinated resistance activities. A high-profile resister was former conservative government minister John Christmas Møller, who had fled to England in 1942 and became a widely popular commentator because of his broadcasts to the nation over the BBC. King Christian X more or less became the national symbol of resistance.

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