|Asbjørn Edvin Sunde|
12 December 1909|
|Died||23 April 1985(aged 75)|
|Years of service||1940–1944|
|Commands held||Osvald Group|
|Battles/wars||Spanish Civil War
Second World War
|Awards||Soviet World War II Victory Medal|
Asbjørn Edvin Sunde (12 December 1909 – 23 April 1985) was a Norwegian sailor, communist, and a saboteur against the Nazi occupation of Norway during the Second World War. During the war, from 1941 to 1944, Sunde's group - the Osvald Group - carried out approximately 200 acts of sabotage and assassination against the German occupation forces and collaborators. Many of the actions were carried out on order from the Norwegian exile government in London. In 1954 he was convicted for treason and espionage in favour of the Soviet Union, but released from prison before due time, after political pressure to have him released.
Sunde had served a 30-month stint in the Royal Norwegian Navy, rising to non-commissioned officer rank in 1930. He was trained as both a first mate, a navigator and a gunner. He was married, and the father of one son. For several years he sailed in the Norwegian merchant marine. In the years preceding the Second World War, Sunde joined the Communist Party of Norway, wrote for the communist daily Arbeideren and was involved with work to aid and support the labourers and unemployed in his home town Horten.
Spanish Civil War
Following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Sunde played a central role in the early efforts of the Communist Party of Norway in support of the Spanish Republic. In January 1937 Sunde led a group of four volunteers he had personally recruited from Oslo to the headquarters of the International Brigades in Albacete, Spain. Sunde, who spoke Spanish, first served as an front line ambulance driver in Spain, before requesting transfer to a Republican special operations unit as a saboteur and partisan, operating behind Nationalist lines. Among the tasks Sunde carried out in the unit was railway sabotage. While in Spain he also wrote letters, describing his experiences and the situation in Spain, that were published in Arbeideren. Sunde left Spain in the summer of 1938, returning to Norway.
From 1938 he was the leader of the Norwegian branch of Ernst Wollweber's secret sabotage organization, whose actions were directed against Fascist-controlled shipping. The Wollweber League had been established as an initiative of the Soviet NKVD.
Second World War
Following the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Sunde's group initiated sabotage activities in Norway. The group, consisting predominately of sailors, dockworkers and industrial labourers, was responsible for some 200 known actions between July 1941 and July 1944, dominating sabotage activity in Norway during this period. One of Sunde's cover names was Osvald, and his group became known as the Osvald Group (Osvald-gruppen). The groups main area of operations was Buskerud.
According to historian Lars Borgersrud, Sunde's renown as an aggressive and daring saboteur, led other resistance organisations to approach him to carry out particularly delicate missions, in particular assassinations. After attacking the Oslo and Aker offices of the State Police 21 August 1942, a reward of 50,000 NOK was offered for information that would lead to his capture.
After the war Sunde wrote the book Menn i mørket (1947) (Men in the Darkness), describing his wartime activities. Neither Sunde nor his organization received any award or recognition from the post-war Norwegian government for their contributions during the war, due to the political climate at the time, and the group's relation to the Soviet secret police organisation, the NKVD.
The more famous and acknowledged partisan Gunnar Sønsteby unsuccessfully spoke in favour of giving Sunde a war pension, which was given to both the merchant sailors and the military branch of the resistance. Sunde died without receiving any official recognition for his war-time contributions to Norway.
Sunde played a central role in the internal conflicts of the Communist Party of Norway in the late 1940s. The struggle culminated with the expulsion of former chairman Peder Furubotn and a number of other so-called "Titoists" in 1949/1950.
Conviction for treason and espionage
From 1949 the Norwegian Police Surveillance Agency began a surveillance operation against Sunde, leading to his arrest five years later on suspicion of espionage. In 1954 Sunde was convicted for treason and espionage for the Soviet Union, and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. After serving two thirds of his sentence, he was released from prison ca. 1960. After his release, he lived a quiet life.
- Egil Ulateig: Raud krigar, raud spion, 1989. (Red Warrior, Red Spy; biography) (Norwegian)
- Asbjørn Sunde: Menn i mørket, 1947. (Men in the Darkness; autobiography) (Norwegian). Reissued in 2009, with foreword by Lars Borgersrud
- Moen and Sæther 2009, pp. 81–82
- Moen and Sæther 2009, pp. 83–84
- Moen and Sæther 2009, pp. 283–285
- Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Wollweber-organisasjonen". In Hans Fredrik Dahl. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 468pp. ISBN 82-02-14138-9. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
- Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Sunde, Asbjørn". In Hans Fredrik Dahl. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 468pp. ISBN 82-02-14138-9. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Osvald-gruppen". In Hans Fredrik Dahl. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 468pp. ISBN 82-02-14138-9. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
- Den sorte hånd slår til - 20. april 1943 – Av Steinar Åge Brenden – Friheten (Retrieved on 17 September 2008) (Norwegian)
- HANS FREDRIK DAHL: Avslører havets hemmeligheter – Dagbladet (18.02.1998) (Retrieved on 17 September 2008) (Norwegian)
- Menn i mørket. The story of a sabotage group in Norway under the German occupation – amazon.co.uk (Retrieved on 17 September 2008)
- Moen and Sæther 2009, p. 317
- Moen, Jo Stein; Rolf Sæther (2009). Tusen dager – Norge og den spanske borgerkrigen 1936–1939 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag. ISBN 978-82-05-39351-6.