domingo, 7 de fevereiro de 2010


Here we have Churchill reading the introduction of the Chapter XXXIV - Narvik (The Gathering Storm, Book II - The Twilight War).

"For many generations Norway, with its homely, rugged population engaged in trade, shipping, fishing, and agriculture, had stood outside the turmoil of world politics. Far off were the days when the Vikings had sallied forth to conquer or ravage a large part of the then know world. The Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, the wars of William III and Marlborough, the Napoleonic convulsion, and later conflicts, had left Norway, though separated from Denmark otherwise unmoved and unscathed. A large proportion of the people had hitherto thought of neutrality and neutrality alone. A tiny army and a population with no desires except to live peaceably in their own mountainous and semi-Arctic country now fell victims to the new German agression.

It had been the policy of Germany for many years to profess cordial sympathy and friendship with Norway. After the previous war some thousands of German children had found food and shelter with the Norwegians. These had now grown up in Germany, and many of them were ardent Nazis. There was also the Major Quisling, who with a handful of young men had aped and reproduced in Norway on an insignificant scale the Fascist movement. For some years past Nordic meeting had been arranged in Germany to which large numbers of Norwegians had been invited. German lecturers, actors, singers, and men of science had visited Norway in the promotion of a common culture. [All this had been woven into the texture of the Hitlerite military plan, and a widely-scattered internal pro-German conspiracy set on foot. In this every member of the German diplomatic or consular service, every German purchasing agency, played its part under directions from the German Legation in Oslo.] The deed of infamy and treachery now performed may take its place with the Sicilian Vespers and the massacre of St. Bartholomew. [The president of the Norwegian Parliament, Carl Hambro, has written:

In the case of Poland and later in those of Holland and Belgium notes had been exchanged, ultimata had been presented. In the case of Norway the Germans under the mask of friendship tried to extinguish the nation in one dark night, silently, murderously, without any declaration of war, without any warning given. What stupefied the Norwegians mote than the act of aggression itself was the national realization that a Great Power, for years professing its friendship, suddenly appeared a deadly enemy, and that men and woman with whom one had had intimate business or professional relations, who had been cordially welcomed in one's home, were spies and agents of destruction. More than by the violation of treaties and every international obligation, the people of Norway were dazed to find that for years their Germans friends had been elaborating the most detailed plans for the invasion and subsequent enslaving of their country.]

The King, the Government, the Army, and the people, as soon as they realized what was happening, flamed into furious anger. But it was too late. German infiltration and propaganda had hitherto clouded their vision, and now sapped their powers of resistance. Major Quisling presented himself  at the radio, now in German hands, as the pro-German ruler of the conquered land. Almost all Norwegian officials refused to serve him. The Army was mobilised, and at once began, under General Ruge, to fight the invaders pressing northwards from Oslo. Patriots who could find arms took the mountains and the forests. The King, the Ministry, and the Parliament withdrew first to Hamar, a hundred miles from Oslo. [They were hotly pursued by German armoured cars, and ferocious attempts were made to exterminate them by bombing and machine-gunning from the air. They continued however to issue proclamations to the whole country urging the most strenuous resistance. The rest of the population was overpowered and terrorised by blood examples into stupefied or sullen submission. The peninsula of Norway is nearly a thousand miles long.] It is sparsely inhabited, and roads and railroads are few, especially to the northward. The rapidity with  which Hitler effected the domination of the country was a remarkable feat of war and policy, and an enduring example of German thoroughness, wickedness, and brutallity.

The Norwegian Government, hitherto in their fear of Germany so frigid to us, now made vehement appeals for succour. It was from the beginning obviously impossible for us to rescue Southern Norway. Almost all our trained troops, and many only half trained, were in France. Our modest but growing Air Force was fully assigned to supporting the British Expeditionary Force, to Home Defence, and vigorous training. All our anti-aircraft guns were demanded ten times over for vulnerable points of the highest importance. Still, we felt bound to do our utmost to go to their aid, even at violent derangement of our own preparations and interests. Narvik, it seemed, could certainly be seized and defended with benefit to the whole Allied cause. Here the King of Norway might fly his flag unconquered. Trondheim might be fought for, at any rate as means of delaying the northward advance of the invader until Narvik could be regained and made the base of an Army. This, is seemed, could be maintained from the sea at a strength superior to anything which could be brought against it by land through to five hundred miles of mountain country. The Cabinet heartily approved all possible measures for the rescue and defence of Narwik and Trondheim. The troops which had been released from the Finnish project, and a nucleus kept in hand for Narwik, could soon be ready. They lacked aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank guns, tanks, transport, and training. The whole of Northern Norway was covered with snow to depths which none of our soldiers had even seen, felt, or imagined. There were neither snow-shoes nor skis - still less skiers. We must do our best. Thus began this ramshackle campaign.

Churchill, Winston S. The Second Wolrd War: The Gathering Storm, 1948. Pages 545-547.

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