Osvald Group

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Osvald Group
Participant in World War II
Active 1940–1944
Leaders Asbjørn Sunde
Area of operations Norway
Strength Around 150 saboteurs and helpers (1944)
Allies Communist Party of Norway,
Milorg, XU, SOE, 2A
Opponents Nazi Germany, Nasjonal Samling
Battles 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-[1] or more than [4] 110 sabotage actions. (There were 39[5] sabotage actions according to Asbjørn Sunde's book from 1947.)

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.[6]

Origin of name[edit]

Historian Lars Borgersrud says about the origins of the group's name, that "The Norwegian section of Wollweber's sabotage instrument was called 'the Osvald Group' («Osvald-gruppa») after the pseudonym of the leader, Martin Hjelmen"—Osvald.[6] Osvald was also one of the pseudonyms used by Asbjørn Sunde.

History[edit]

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. In July 1942 Sunde held his first sabotage course at Rukkedalen (where they had their headquarters)].[7] "A short time later he actioned against German friendly" companies in Hadeland.[7]

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.[8] ("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".[8]) In November and December 1944 the leaders of Saborg were arrested.[9] Saborg was the only resistance organization, that at times was subordinate to Milorg in Bergen, SOE, or the Communist Party's section in[10] Bergen.[8] (The latter relationship lasted a few days until Saborg was destroyed, and it is regarded as insignificant,[10] according to Borgersrud.)

Violent actions[edit]

  • 2 February 1942 saw the first, active event of Resistance [against the German occupation of Norway] when the Østbanehallen (at present-day Oslo Central Station) was blown up to protest the inauguration of ministerpresident Vidkun Quisling.[11]
  • On 21 August 1942 Statspolitiet's office was attacked.[12] (This was a result of Hans Eng not showing up on 20 August, at a place were the group had prepared to assassinate him.[13])
  • 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.[14] (He was likely[6] assassinated by Reidar Olsen,[10] later arrested for that and a later assassination—and tortured to death by authorities.[15])
  • 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.[8]

Organization[edit]

The number of members was over 200.[1]

"The communist sabotage organization in Bergen"[16] was called Saborg, and the core[8] of the organization counted around 60-65 members.

The Vågård Group (Vågårdsgruppa[17]) was another section of the Osvald Group, and it was based North of Hønefoss, in the forest.[18]

Post-war[edit]

Saboteur Josef Monsrud said that "I am proud of having been part of the Osvald organization. And the recognition that we have not received, I can [accept or] live with. Because I know what we have done", according to a 2009 LO-Aktuelt article.[7]

Sunde received an award[19][when?] (the Defence Medal 1940–1945 in bronze)—by certified mail—from the Norwegian government.[7]

In 2013, then minister of defence honored[1] 8 members—of the 17 who are still alive. Sunde and his organization received award and recognition the Soviet Union[citation needed][when?] for their contributions during the war.

2014 lawsuit over research project[edit]

In 2014 Lars Borgersrud filed a lawsuit against Museum Vest,[20] and he demanded the return of documentation that he had gathered,[21] Later that year the lawsuit was settled out of court.

Monument and plaquettes[edit]

On 30 May 1995 a plaquette was installed on a wall of an atrium that leads to Østbanehallen (from Jernbanetorget in Oslo), listing employees of the State Railways [whereof at least two were "Osvald members"] who died during World War II. In 2015 the plaquette was moved onto the base of the monument located at Jernbanetorget in Oslo. Other[22] plaquettes are at other places in Norway.

On 29 April 2015 a monument was installed at Jernbanetorget,[23] and unveiled on 1 May. The monument—["crush nazism"] Knus nasismen[24] by Bjørn Melbye Gulliksen—shows a hammer[25] (specifically a mukkert[26][27]) that is crushing a swastika,[28][29] with the swastika nearly[30] becoming "invisible (...) What we now see is a sledgehammer slamming at Norway's bedrock". On the base of the monument are two plaquettes and one inscription: an Asbjørn Sunde quote, "It was worth fighting for the freedom—for all nations, for all races, for all classes, for all people".[30] (One plaquette is dedicated to dead Osvald members; another larger plaquette is for State Railway employees killed in World War II. Two of the names appear on both plaquettes.) Present at the unveiling were 4 surviving members.[31] The permit (from the municipality) for the monument's current location, lasts for six months, whereupon placement of the monument will be reviewed.[32] Controversy has lasted since 2014.[22][28][30][33][34][35][36][37]

Members[edit]

Members of Saborg[edit]

  • August Rathke,[16] claimed chief of recruiting for Saborg[43] (and [a] leader in[10] the Communist Party's youth organization[9] during a period of World War II)
  • Alf Bjørkman[8]
  • Frank Nilsen[8][44]
  • Olaf Rutledal[8]
  • Martin Lundberg[8]
  • Leif Myrmel[8]
  • Martin Hjelmen[8] was the Osvald Group's first leader.[10]
  • Norman Iversen[8] was the leader of Saborg when it was unraveled and destroyed.[10]
  • Reidar Olsen
  • Arvid Abrahamsen (member who helped hiding weapons and equipment; imprisoned in January 1945 and tortured; attendee at 2015 unveiling of monument.[45])

Other participants in the illegal work of the Osvald Group[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Lars Borgersrud (2013-11-13). "I spissen for sabotasjekampen". Aftenposten. p. 5. 
  2. ^ 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. ^ Guri Kulås (2015-02-16). "Rettssaka mot Asbjørn Sunde har vorte tema for ny dramadokumentar: Kaldkrigsdrama". Klassekampen. p. 24. 
  5. ^ Page 245 - 248. Asbjørn Sunde: Menn i mørket. Dreyer Forlag. Oslo (1947)
  6. ^ a b c d Uklart om likvidasjoner
  7. ^ a b c d Glemte sabotører. LO-Aktuelt nr. 11/2009
  8. ^ 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". 
  9. ^ a b Kristen, krigshelt og sosialdemokrat
  10. ^ a b c d e f Saborgs historie må skrives
  11. ^ Mathilde Becker Aarseth (2015-02-07). "Sier nei til monument". Klassekampen. p. 47. 
  12. ^ Christensen, 2006: p. 115
  13. ^ Christensen, 2006: p. 114
  14. ^ "PFU-sak 059/05". Norwegian Press Complaints Commission. 
  15. ^ Uheldig skittkasting
  16. ^ a b Saborg i Bergen må sikres
  17. ^ Vi trodde ikke vi skulle overleve - Leif Kjemperud - Motstandsmann fra Ringerike
  18. ^ ""Bekkestua" åpnet" (PDF). Heggedalsposten. October 2013. p. 36. 
  19. ^ Odd Bergfald: KGB «OPERASJON NORGE». HJEMMENES FORLAG, Oslo, 1975, side 96 og 103. ISBN 82-7006-151-4
  20. ^ "Sjokkerende fra Borgersrud". Bergens Tidende. 2014-04-27. 
  21. ^ Trekker museum for retten
  22. ^ a b Steinar R. Paulsen; et al. (2015-05-09). "Hammer og hakekors i tigerstaden". Klassekampen. p. 41. 
  23. ^ Her kommer det omstridte Osvald-monumentet til Jernbanetorget
  24. ^ Omstridt monument på plass 1. mai
  25. ^ Korslund, Frode (2015-05-06). "Hammer eller slegge eller begge". Klassekampen. 
  26. ^ Laberg, Inge (2015-05-08). "Ganske sikkert en mukkert". Klassekampen. 
  27. ^ mukkert
  28. ^ a b Må krympe monument [Must shrink the monument]
  29. ^ Russiske Anna Karpova om Osvald-monumentet: - Dette minner om monumentene fra sovjettiden
  30. ^ a b c Bård Larsen (2015-05-08). "Skivebom om Osvald-monumentet". Dagsavisen. p. 48. 
  31. ^ 1. MAI-TALE V/NKPS INTER-NASJONALE SEKRETÆR SVEND HAAKON JACOBSEN ■ PÅ NORDRE GRAVLUND 2015 - 70 ÅR ETTER SEIEREN OVER FASCISMEN
  32. ^ Beskyldes for å sette opp kommunistpropaganda i Oslo
  33. ^ "Nytt Osvald-monument skal vise Stanghelle som knuser Stalin". 
  34. ^ Sculpture stirs resistance debate
  35. ^ Bjørgulv Braanen (2015-05-12). "Kjempet ikke Osvald-grupp for et fritt og selvstendig Norge? Motstandskampen". Klassekampen. p. 2. 
  36. ^ Halvorsen, Terje (2015-05-12). "Foreløpig bunnpunkt". Klassekampen. 
  37. ^ Sørheim, Erle Marie (2015-05-16). "Bråket rundt Osvald-monumentet på Jernbanetorget i Oslo er absurd, sett fra Berlin. Russernes inntogsmarsj". Klassekampen. 
  38. ^ War hero rejects military medal
  39. ^ Oslogryta : motstandens hovedsentrum
  40. ^ Pelle-gruppens minnesmerke avdukes neste måned
  41. ^ Osvald-medlemmer kan likevel få Krigskorset
  42. ^ 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. 
  43. ^ 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.]"
  44. ^ Våre falne. p. 386. 
  45. ^ Torturert på det grusomste midt i Bergen sentrum
  46. ^ Halvor Hegtun (2014-10-24). "Jødiske Sally skjulte seg ved nazileir i fem år". Aftenposten A-Magasinet. 
  47. ^ Halvor Hegtun (2014-10-24). "Jødiske Sally skjulte seg ved nazileir i fem år". Aftenposten A-Magasinet. Johansen var medlem av Norges Kommunistiske Parti og med på det illegale arbeidet til Osvald-gruppen. 

External links[edit]

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