Osvald Group

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Osvald Group
Participant in World War II
Active 1940–1944
Leaders Asbjørn Sunde
Area of
Strength Around 150 saboteurs and helpers (1944)
Allies Communist Party of Norway,
Milorg, XU, SOE, 2A
Opponents Nazi Germany, Nasjonal Samling
and wars
Sabotage, assassinations

The Osvald Group was a Norwegian sabotage organisation—the most active one in Norway from 1941 to the summer[1] of 1944.[2][3] It performed around 110[1] sabotage actions.

The organisation was originally a branch of the Wollweber League, a subsidiary to the Soviet secret police organization NKVD which dissolved when Ernst Wollweber was arrested in 1940.

Martin Hjelmen was its first leader until Asbjørn Sunde took over in 1938.[4]

A monument was unveiled in Norway's capital in 2014.

Origin of name[edit]

Historian Lars Borgersrud says about the origins of the group's name, that "The Norwegian section of Wollwebers sabotage instrument was called 'the Osvald Group' («Osvald-gruppa») after the cover name of the leader, Martin Hjelmen".[4] Asbjørn Sunde also used Osvald as one of his cover names.


After the arrest of Ernst Wollweber and the revelation of the Wollweber League, the Osvald Group was intact in Oslo, but had lost contact with Moscow,[3] and had no funding. The group stored explosives around the country. They initiated their sabotage activities shortly after Operation Barbarossa, the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, and continued until the Osvald Group was demobilised in 1944, by orders from Moscow. Their first railway sabotage mission was undertaken on 20 July 1941, the explosion of a Wehrmacht train at Nyland Station in Oslo.

The Osvald group's active resistance policy was in opposition to the Communist Party of Norway (NKP), Milorg and other organizations that preferred a more passive resistance. The group cooperated with the group 2A and 2A's police group, as well as with Milorg, SOE and XU.

From the winter of 1942 NKP formed military groups, and Sunde had meetings with their leader Peder Furubotn. Sunde established a sabotage training center in Rukkedalen and recruited a network of saboteurs in the Torpo-Gol and Nesbyen area—and through Hallingdal and towards Oslo and Bergen. In September 1942 Sunde agreed to supply guards at the communist party's central camp in Hemsedal, in exchange for practical and financial support. Sunde became NKP's military leader, and the organisation became more efficient.

In 1944 there was a break between the group and NKP's leader Peder Furubotn, when Furubotn demanded that the group should subordinate itself to his leadership.

The Osvald Group was closed down in 1944, following orders from Moscow. During its operative period from July 1941 to July 1944 the group was responsible for around 110[1] known actions, dominating sabotage activity in Norway during this period.

35 of the saboteurs were killed, excluding the one killed in Bergen.[1]

Continued resistance by Saborg after summer of 1944[edit]

After the decommissioning of the Osvald Group, Saborg continued.[5] ("Saborg was originally created and developed as the Bergen chapter of the international ship sabotage organization under Ernst Wollweber's leadership. This happened before World War Two".[5]) In November and December 1944 the leaders of Saborg were arrested.[6] Saborg was the only resistance organization, that at times was subordinate to Milorg in Bergen, SOE, or the Communist Party's section in[7] Bergen.[5] (The latter relationship lasted a few days until Saborg was destroyed, and it is regarded as insignificant,[7] according to Borgersrud.)

Violent actions[edit]

  • On 20 April 1943 it sabotaged an employment office in Oslo, on Pilestredet.[1] (This sabotage has been confused[1] with a planned attack against the employment office in Heimdal Street—to be led by Kai Holst; and a 1944 attack at Pilestredet by Max Manus.)
  • On 25 October 1944 a policeman in Stapo was assassinated in Bergen.[8] (He was likely[4] assassinated by Reidar Olsen,[7] later arrested for that and a later assassination—and tortured to death by authorities.[9])
  • 9 November 1944 a bank (Laksevåg Sparebank) was robbed on behalf of the group

The Saborg section of the Osvald Group was responsible for 30 actions.[5]


The number of members was over 200.[1]

"The communist sabotage organization in Bergen"[10] was called Saborg, and the core[5] of the organization counted around 60-65 members.

The Vågård Group (Vågårdsgruppa[11]) was another section of the Osvald Group, and it was based North of Hønefoss, in the forest.[12]


Due to the political climate at the time and the group's close relations to the NKVD and Moscow, the Osvald Group received no recognition from the Norwegian Government after the war, and their members were never decorated.[2]

A memorial was set up in Oslo 30 May 1995, in memory of saboteurs from the Osvald Group that perished during the Second World War.

In 2013, then minister of defence honored[1] 8 members—of the 17 who are still alive.

2014 lawsuit over research project[edit]

In 2014 Lars Borgersrud filed a lawsuit against Museum Vest,[13] and he demanded the return of documentation that he had gathered,[14]


In the 1990s a plaquette was installed on the wall of a passageway that joins Østbanehallen in Oslo—in memorial for "Osvald members" who died during World War Two. (As of March 2014, the plaquette is inaccessible to the general public while the joining main hall is under reconstruction.)

A [different] monument was to be unveiled outside Oslo Sentralbanestasjon in the middle of March 2014, according to a notice in Dagsavisen (on the day before the unveiling).


Members of Saborg[edit]

  • August Rathke,[10] claimed chief of recruiting for Saborg[20] (and [a] leader in[7] the Communist Party's youth organization[6] during a period of World War Two)
  • Alf Bjørkman[5]
  • Frank Nilsen[5][21]
  • Olaf Rutledal[5]
  • Martin Lundberg[5]
  • Leif Myrmel[5]
  • Martin Hjelmen[5] was the Osvald Group's first leader.[7]
  • Norman Iversen[5] was the leader of Saborg when it was unraveled and destroyed.[7]
  • Reidar Olsen


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Lars Borgersrud (2013-11-13). "I spissen for sabotasjekampen". Aftenposten. p. 5. 
  2. ^ a b Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Osvald-gruppen". In Hans Fredrik Dahl. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 319–320. ISBN 82-02-14138-9. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  3. ^ a b Borgersrud, Lars (1995). "Sunde, Asbjørn". In Hans Fredrik Dahl. Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 404–405. ISBN 82-02-14138-9. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  4. ^ a b c d Uklart om likvidasjoner
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jenny Heggsvik; Lars Borgersrud; August Rathke; Egil Christophersen; Ole-Jacob Abraham. "Prosjektbeskrivelse for det historiske forskningsprosjektet SABORG I BERGEN".  pdf file: www.fagforbundet.no/file.php?id=11179
  6. ^ a b Kristen, krigshelt og sosialdemokrat
  7. ^ a b c d e f Saborgs historie må skrives
  8. ^ "PFU-sak 059/05". Norwegian Press Complaints Commission. 
  9. ^ Uheldig skittkasting
  10. ^ a b Saborg i Bergen må sikres
  11. ^ Vi trodde ikke vi skulle overleve - Leif Kjemperud - Motstandsmann fra Ringerike
  12. ^ ""Bekkestua" åpnet". Heggedalsposten. October 2013. p. 36. 
  13. ^ "Sjokkerende fra Borgersrud". Bergens Tidende. 2014-04-27. 
  14. ^ Trekker museum for retten
  15. ^ War hero rejects military medal
  16. ^ Oslogryta : motstandens hovedsentrum
  17. ^ Pelle-gruppens minnesmerke avdukes neste måned
  18. ^ Osvald-medlemmer kan likevel få Krigskorset
  19. ^ paywall: Vigdis Alver (2014-06-14). "Med fare for sine liv spionerte de, var kurerer og likviderte forrædere" [While risking their lives, they spied, they were couriers and they assassinated traitors]. Dagbladet Magasinet. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  20. ^ Godt besøkt frokostmøte i LO i Bergen og omland. "August Rathke fortalte om sine opplevesler i SABORG under krigen. Han var rekrutteringsansvarlig i SABORG. [August Rathke told about his experiences in SABORG during the war. He was chief of recruiting in Saborg.]"
  21. ^ Våre falne. p. 386. 

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