NORWAY'S RESISTANCE MOVEMENT (Illustration) World War II World History Tragedies and Triumphs Social Studies Famous Historical Events Civil Rights Censorship Ethics

During the Nazi occupation of Norway, people showed their solidarity with each other by wearing red caps. Then the Nazis outlawed red caps. This image depicts some of the banned red caps which are maintained today at Norway's Resistance Museum (Norges Hjemmefront Museum). Image online via Trip Advisor.


Sometimes the simplest of objects take-on extraordinary meaning. Take paper clips, for example, or red hats.

In an obtrusive environment, when a foreign power is occupying their country, Norwegians are told they cannot (without punishment):

  • Listen to foreign news broadcasts, on their radios;
  • Read foreign newspapers;
  • Spread the word, from foreign countries, to each other.

People in Norway decide to show solidarity, with each other, by wearing paper clips. Since a paper clip binds papers together, why not use them to symbolically bind Norwegians together?

Then, for the same reason, they decide to wear red caps (called “Rede Toppluer,” in Norwegian). By the 26th of February, 1942, Josef Terboven—a German military officer whom Hitler has appointed to run the occupation government—has banned the red caps.

The Nazis don’t limit their controlling efforts to objects, like red caps or radios. Terboven installs Nazi officials in key positions, only to have the Norwegians push back:

  • In November of 1940, a Nazi Minister of Justice announces that only he has the right to hire/fire court officials (or order judges to retire). Appealing to Terboven, the Judges get nowhere when Norway’s new leader tells them they should not “presume to question” his decrees. The judges resign. All of them. Immediately.
  • Then Terboven and his new government turn their sights on the Lutheran Church (Norway’s main church at the time). Ignoring priest-parishioner confidentiality, they order priests to report what people say in their confessions or the priests will risk imprisonment. Suddenly, it seems as though no one is talking in church confessionals.
  • When priests are ordered not to criticize the government, in their sermons, seven bishops resign. The Nazis replace the resigned bishops with their own men, but the congregations ignore them.
  • Trying to take over Norway’s sports, the Nazis disband existing sports clubs and associations and set-up one large association they can control. Norwegian athletes go on strike.
  • Arresting many of Norway’s top athletes, the Nazis set-up puppet teams. Norwegians ignore the “national championship,” with only 27 people showing-up for the final (in 1942).
  • After giving skilled medical jobs to unskilled Nazi workers, Terboven hears from the country’s medical associations. Forty-three separate groups, representing around 750,000 members, tell the Nazi leader they object to the steps he’s taking to “nazify” their country.
  • When Terboven's government arrests doctors, shuts-down some of the medical associations and replaces those associations (which survive) with Nazi directors, the health-care providers resign from the Nazi-led organizations.
  • The resigned doctors go “underground,” where they go about their business as before, including re-forming their organizations. Not content to be silent, about their opposition to Nazi policies, they issue a manifesto endorsing non-violent resistance to the Nazi occupation of Norway.
  • Running every aspect of life in Norway, the Nazis decide that milk supplies should go to the occupying German soldiers, not to Norwegian children. In September of 1941, trade unions protest by going on strike. The Nazis respond by executing union leaders.
  • During that same month, as Norwegians ignore the Nazi order to refrain from listening to foreign broadcasts (and passing on the news), Terboven orders his troops to confiscate all radios. They can’t get them all however, since some Norwegians have hidden their radios.

As they continue to listen to foreign-news broadcasts, Norwegians form a kind of underground news network to share the real news (not the Nazi news) with each other.

How did those illegal "newspapers" find their way to the locals who had no access to radios? Enter teenaged Erling Storrusten (and others like him).

One of Erling's first jobs, for the Norwegian resistance, was to begin a bicycle route for delivering “the news.”

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 09, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Mar 17, 2018

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"NORWAY'S RESISTANCE MOVEMENT" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 09, 2015. Jan 25, 2020.
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