Knut Haukelid

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Soldiers in uniform, from the left: Knut Haukelid, Joachim Rønneberg, Jens Anton Poulsson shaking hands with king Haakon VII, Kasper Idland.

Knut Haukelid (born May 17, 1911 in Brooklyn, New York, United States; died March 8, 1994 in Oslo, Norway) was a Norwegian resistance movement soldier during World War II, most notable for participating in the Norwegian heavy water sabotage. He was the twin brother of actress Sigrid Gurie.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Knut Anders Haukelid’s parents were Bjørgulv and Sigrid Haukelid, a couple from Norway who were living in Brooklyn, New York while Bjørgulv, a civil engineer, worked for the Interborough Rapid Transit (now part of the A Division of the New York City Subway) (1902–1912). Since Haukelid and his twin sister, Sigrid Gurie Haukelid, were born in America, the twins held dual Norwegian-American citizenship. In 1914, the family returned to Norway. Haukelid subsequently grew up in Oslo, where his father worked as an engineer helping to lay out the Oslo Metro. In 1929, Haukelid came back to America to attend Massachusetts State College. He returned to Norway and later completed his education at the Dresden School of Technology and the University of Berlin. Returning to Norway, he worked for his father's engineering firm, Haukelid og Five.[3]

World War II[edit]

He joined the Norwegian Independent Company 1 (Norwegian: Kompani Linge) in 1941. During World War II Knut Haukelid and the Kompani Linge group, sabotaged the Nazi Germany controlled heavy water Vemork plant in Rjukan in a long-range raid which began at an airfield in England. On February 28, 1943, the demolition team entered the Norsk Hydro plant and set explosive charges. The heavy water produced at a facility in occupied Norway was vital for the Third Reich's participation in the nuclear bomb race. The British War Cabinet also ordered Haukelid to sink the Norwegian ferry SF Hydro carrying the containers of heavy water across Lake Tinnsjø. The ferry was sunk with hidden explosives on February 19, 1944.[4]

Post-war life[edit]

For his participation in these raids, Knut Haukelid received multiple awards including Norway's highest decoration for military gallantry, the War Cross with sword. He was awarded this decoration twice, in 1944 and 1947: the War Cross with two swords. In addition, Haukelid was decorated by the British with the Distinguished Service Order and later, by Winston Churchill personally, with the Military Cross.[citation needed]

Haukelid graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy in 1948. He served as Major in the Telemark Infantry Regiment, and was later appointed Lieutenant General[citation needed] and head of the Home guard of Greater Oslo. Haukelid became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Infantry in 1959 and served as Colonel and head of Greater Oslo Homeguard from 1966 until his retirement in 1974. At the time of his retirement, Haukelid was one of only three active Lieutenant Generals (2 stars) in Norway.[citation needed] The only 3-star General, at the time, was King Olav V.

Haukelid wrote his autobiography, Det demrer en dag in 1947 (revised edition 1953 under the name Kampen om tungtvannet). Other books such as Knut Haukelid's Skis Against the Atom and Thomas Gallagher's Assault in Norway: Sabotaging the Nazi Nuclear Program provide accounts of the Norway raid and Haukelid's participation.

Cultural references[edit]

The sabotage action against the Vemork plant was portrayed in the classic Norwegian 1948 film Kampen om tungtvannet. Haukelid played himself, as did the rest of the sabotage group, in the film released internationally as Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water. A largely fictional account of the sabotage, The Heroes of Telemark (1965), starred Richard Harris as Knut Straud.[5][6]

In the spring of 1984, on the 40th anniversary of the sabotage action against the heavy water plant at Vemork, the survivors of the Kompani Linge group who participated in the action were honored at a reception at the residence of the American Ambassador in Oslo. On October 18, 1985, Knut Haukelid was honored at the Second Annual Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame Banquet in Minot, North Dakota.[citation needed]

The 2015 TV mini-series The Heavy Water War also portrays Haukelid's role in the heavy water operations.



  1. ^ Knut Haukelid, 82; 1 of 9 known as WWII, Heroes of Telemark(The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) March 11, 1994)
  2. ^ Knut Haukelid, Memorial# 9743671 (Find A Grave )
  3. ^ Knut Haukelid, 82, Fighter in Resistance To Nazis in Norway (New York Times. March 11, 1994)
  4. ^ The Heroes of Telemark he is also a Norwegian heavy water sabotage. (Norsk Hydro ASA. Oslo, Norway 2009)
  5. ^ Kampen om tungtvannet
  6. ^ The Heros of Telemark

Additional sources[edit]

  • Haukelid, Knut. Skis Against the Atom: The Exciting, First Hand Account of Heroism and Daring Sabotage During the Nazi Occupation of Norway (North American Heritage Press. Minot, North Dakota. August 1, 1989)
  • Gallagher, Thomas. Assault In Norway: Sabotaging the Nazi Nuclear Program (The Lyons Press; The Globe Pequot Press, Inc. November 1, 2002)
  • Haukelid, Knut (1947). Det demrer en dag (in Norwegian). Oslo: Nasjonalforlaget. 
  • Poulsson, Jens-Anton (2006). Tungtvannssabotasjen (in Norwegian). Oslo: Orion. ISBN 82-458-0803-2. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]