Shadow on the Mountain - Preface

Shadow on the Mountain (Illustration) World War II World History Fiction Civil Rights Famous Historical Events Tragedies and Triumphs Social Studies Ethics

German soldiers onboard the Rio de Janeiro were heading toward the Norwegian port city of Bergen when their ship was torpedoed on the 8th of April, 1940. This image depicts Bergen as seen from Fløyen mountain. Photo by Espt123; online via Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0


I can be a hero, without using violence.

Norwegian teacher, returning from German
forced-labor camp in the Arctic, quoted in
Nonviolence in World War II


It is the 8th of April, 1940, and a German troop ship called the Rio de Janeiro, is in trouble near Lillesand, Norway. On board the vessel are horses and soldiers. They are heading for Bergen, a Norwegian seaport.

A Polish submarine, the ORP Orzel, is serving under the command of the British Navy's 2nd Submarine Flotilla (since Hitler has already conquered Poland). When the captain sees the Rio, he orders the ship to stop, which it does. Then Jan Grudzinski, the sub’s captain, orders the Rio to surrender, which it does not.

Grudzinski orders his crew to fire a torpedo at the Rio. Hitting its mark, the torpedo causes the ship to take-on water. As the troop transport begins to sink, soldiers onboard jump into the sea.

About fifty minutes after the first salvo, Grudzinski orders another strike. Firing from a submerged position, the second torpedo strikes the Rio’s ammunition depot, causing a massive explosion. Around 200 crew members die, but about 180 are rescued.

When they are asked why their ship is near Lillesand, survivors tell Norwegian officials they were on their way to Bergen. Despite this evidence, and the fact that the Germans are wearing uniforms, Norwegian government officials do not understand the soldiers’ true mission.

They are on their way to invade, then occupy, Norway.

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

Original Release: Mar 08, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jun 19, 2018

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