Norway, 1940

Discussion in 'Scandinavia and Finland' started by dbf, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Am in the process of transcribing a few newspaper articles in respect of this campaign and thought I'd share.


    A book, The Campaign in Norway by T.K. Derry, on the net here:
    HyperWar: The Campaign in Norway (UK Military Series)

    From Norwegian perspective - Maps, orders of battle here:
    Norway 1940

    If anyone knows of some good sites, particularly about the naval actions, I would be grateful if they would post them here.

  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD


    OSLO, MARCH 31

    Both Aftenposten and Morgenbladet have replied to the leading article in The Times last Thursday on the Norwegian protest. Aftenposten writes:-

    The understanding English newspaper The Times asks the Norwegians to preserve their power of distinguishing between real violations of neutrality and accidental lapses causing no harm. We can assure The Times that there is nothing the matter with the Norwegian people’s power to distinguish between cases. Here, as in Great Britain, we draw a sharp distinction between a person who casually steals a pair of stockings and the person who robs a bank, shooting its guard. But here, as in Great Britain, the police arrest both persons, because in both cases the law is broken, and here and in Great Britain we think it vitally important that no slackness should be shown in the administration of law and justice. It is of even greater importance in matters involving international law, which is our only protection. If these “accidental” violations of our neutral territory occur frequently, they may cause harm which nobody to-day can estimate.

    Morgenbladet expresses pleasure at the intention of The Times to understand and do justice to neutrals, and continues:-

    There is hardly anybody in this country who does not clearly see the difference between the ravages which one belligerent has inflicted on Norwegian merchant ships and crews, and the blockade and control of the other which is certainly not directed towards killing any neutral even if it means a great hindrance to neutral shipping and impedes our legal supply of the requisites of life. But there are other difficulties which the British violations of Norwegian territory have caused. The French Press almost daily insists that Norway is unable to guard her neutrality all along her coastline. We know that this is a false assertion, and that the Norwegian Navy maintains a vigilant watch . . . Suppose that the other side, tempted by British lapses in Norwegian territorial waters, began the same conduct, what would be the consequences to Norway? In that case the “accidental lapse” which causes no harm would be dangerous enough.

    The Foreign Department states that the Norwegian Legation in Berlin lodged a serious protest on February 26 over the sinking of the steamer Steinstad off the west coast of Ireland on February 15 on her way from Turkey to Norway with a cargo of ore. The crew of 24 were ordered to the boats and left in the open sea. One boat with 12 on board is missing, and the other reached the shore after 127 hours of fighting with a rough sea. The captain, who was in this boat, was swept overboard, and thus only 11 men out of the 24 were saved. The protests points out that the Steinstad was on her way between two neutral countries with a cargo destined for a Norwegian firm and guaranteed by the Government against re-export. The Norwegian Government reserve the right to full compensation, suggest without insistence that disciplinary measures should be taken against the U-boat commander, and ask to be informed of the measures taken.

    News has been received here that the Norwegian steamer Burgos (3,220 tons), belonging to Fred Olsen and Co., was sunk on Thursday off the east coast of England. The crew of 32 were all rescued, but 10 are in hospital in an English port. It is not known whether the ship was mined or torpedoed.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD



    Mr. Charles Hambro, chairman of the British delegates on the joint Standing Commission created under the British-Sweden war trade agreement has arrived in Stockholm on what is authoritatively described both in British and in Swedish quarters here as “an ordinary routine visit.”

    His arrival at this moment is welcomed in Swedish official circles because of the opportunity it offers them to refute recent rumours in sections of the Allied Press, for instance, about a suspicious increase of Swedish imports, such as cotton and copper, from the United States. These and many other commodities have been placed under an export embargo since the present war began, and it is stated here that no re-exportation has taken place. The large purchases appear to be explained by the increased needs of the munitions industry, which as been working hard not only to fill Swedish but also Finnish demands, and by the need for Army uniforms to clothe the large numbers of men called up.

    Both in British and Swedish diplomatic circles it is stated that there has been no question of denouncing the war trade agreement between Great Britain and Sweden which was concluded at Christmas.

    The Swedish view of the problem of iron ore transport from Narvik along the coast of Norway to Germany is given in an article in Stockholms-Tidningen by Professor Bertil Ohlin, one of Sweden’s foremost economists and a member of the Riksdag.

    He says that the shipments from Narvik to the extent which is now possible are of small importance to Germany’s military strength, and declares himself astonished that even the British Government seems to consider them a war problem of the first order.

    The situation would be different (he says) if the exports through the Baltic were also to cease. But of this there has been no question. On the contrary, it would seem probable that shipments via Luleå could be gradually increased to a considerable extent if the Narvik traffic stopped. In doing this the Swedes would only act in accordance with the “normal trade” principle which Great Britain has herself recognized for the neutrals.




    An action fought over the North Sea between one British flying-boat and six Junkers JU88 bombers resulted in one of the German aeroplanes being shot down in flames and another being so damaged that it was forced to land in Norway, where its crew were interned.

    The Air Ministry announcement of the action was as folows:-
    “While engaged in patrol duties over the North Sea yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, a flying-boat of Coastal Command, Royal Air Force, encountered six enemy aircraft of the Junkers type. One of the latter was shot down and seen to fall into the sea. The remaining Junkers broke off the engagement and our aircraft resumed patrol.”

    Nearly 100 miles an hour slower than the Junkers bombers, the British flying-boat, a Sunderland, was inevitably on the defensive; but it kept near the convoy it was escorting and engaged any German machine that came within range. The convoy had been shadowed earlier in the day by German aircraft, and the six Junkers bombers probably made their attack in response to information gathered during the shadowing. Two attacked the British flying-boat, presumably with the intention of putting it out of action before turning their attention to the convoy.

    Skimming the surface of the sea to protect the underside of its hull, the flying-boat returned fire from its side guns and from the multi-gun power-operated turret in the tail. The four remaining Junkers then came in to attack and the tail gunner succeeded in shooting down the leader in flames. The second Junkers was damaged and made off towards Norway, signalling to a Norwegian aircraft that it was in distress. It finally landed in Norway and its crew set it on fire.

    After these two successes for the flying-boat it is said that the remaining Junkers dropped bombs from a height, though whether they aimed at the flying-boat or the convoy is uncertain. Information that has reached the Air Ministry suggests that the bombs were aimed at the flying-boat, though this seems unlikely. No hits were obtained, and the enemy machines flew away. The flying-boat returned to base. Its captain, a man of 25, had an eyelid cut by flying chips of metal. The second pilot, aged 20, had a slight ear injury. Some of the aircraft’s controls had been damaged.

    German bombers attacked trawlers in the North Sea about noon on Wednesday and one bomb fell near the Aberdeen trawler Gorspen, apparently damaging her. The crew abandoned her and they were picked up by another Aberdeen trawler and landed at a northern port. One man was reported to be injured in the foot. No other trawler was damaged. British fighter aircraft arrived and they are understood to have got a burst of fire into a bomber.

    Two other Aberdeen trawlers, the Corennie and the Delila were attacked when returning from the fishing grounds, and both replied effectively to the raiders. The machine which attacked the Corennie dropped two bombs and seven aerial torpedoes.

    “One bomb fell near the trawler,” said Skipper George Burnett. “The crew fired many rounds at the aeroplane from the ship’s Lewis gun and rifles, and I think we hit her.”

    The attack on the Delia lasted for 40 minutes and a member of the crew said, “We lost count of the bombs and torpedoes, but there were certainly four big bombs. The skipper and chief engineer put in some good work with the ship’s Lewis gun. The aeroplanes made off when one of our coastal patrol machines appeared.”

    The German Heinkel bomber which was shot down off the Yorkshire coast on Wednesday, its crew of five being picked up by a drifter, is believed to have been the same aircraft which machine-gunned the Norwegian steamer Isbjorn (578 tons), which had the Norwegian colours painted on four places on her sides and was flying the national flag. Soon after the German aeroplane flew off a British aircraft was seen in pursuit. Nobody in the Norwegian steamer was wounded.
  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD



    The passenger liner Mira (1,152 tons), belonging to the Bergenske Dampskibsselskap, yesterday arrived in Norway after an exceptionally exciting voyage, as she was attacked eight times by German bombers while on her way from England to Norway. The captain and crew, as usual, refuse to tell anything, but passengers give a lively description of their adventures.

    The ship left an East Coast port at 4 p.m. six days ago with 107 crew and passengers. About 8.45 p.m. the first attack came, when German aeroplanes dropped three bombs. No damage was done, and the ship proceeded to another East Coast port, where she stayed for 1½ days. Leaving this port early in the afternoon the ship was again attacked, but English warships put the Germans to flight, and shot down one bomber. The next day the ship was attacked at 11.50 a.m. by a single bomber. British warships fired, and the bomber disappeared in the clouds and was probably damaged. At 3.55 p.m. on the same day the ship was attacked for a fourth time by several bombers without being hit.

    On Wednesday last at 4 p.m. new attacks followed, and three bombs were dropped, all falling in the sea close to the ship, but doing no harm. Half an hour later there was a new attack, and this time five bombs were dropped, exploding so near that the ship shook. It was constantly expected that the ship would be hit, but again this time all the bombs fell into the sea, though two passengers were injured in the head by splinters. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. the ship was attacked several times, and the passengers reckon that in all eight attacks took place during the voyage. During the last attacks a British destroyer shot down one bomber and damaged another, which disappeared eastwards, probably the same aeroplane which landed near Stavanger on Wednesday.
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD



    Although the text of the British and French communications to Norway and Sweden is still unknown much relief was felt to-day in Scandinavia. Politiken writes this morning that the communications will not make the two countries’ position any more difficult.

    On the contrary (it is added) they may be the beginning of discussions during which it will be possible to clear away many difficulties. Most important is the fact that the communications do not mean any immediate aggravation of the relations between the Scandinavian countries and Great Britain and France.

    The anxiety in Berlin contrasts with the calm of the Scandinavian countries. An official spokesman of the German Foreign Office declared on Saturday to a correspondent of National Tidende that this week-end would be marked by the attempt of the Western Powers to make the Northern countries a battlefield, and the German man in the street has been so prepared by the Press that he himself believes that war in Scandinavia will break out any day. The story about the British and French expeditionary corps of 100,000 men which is ready to invade Scandinavia at any moment is continually repeated.



    The Allied communications to Sweden and Norway are assumed by the German Press to be the beginning of a formal attempt to compel these two countries to stop exporting to Germany and abandon their neutrality and there is consequently some surprise that the attack on them so calmly.

    In the circumstances (writes the Diplomatisch-Politische Korrespondenz) it is about time that some one of the neutrals found the courage to make a stand against such arrogance.




    In the Storting on Saturday the Foreign Minisster, Professor Koht, made a statement on Norwegian foreign policy. Professor Koht began by emphasizing the fact Norway adhered to a policy of strict neutrality. To treat one side differently from the other was out of the question, because that was not true neutrality and might give one side or the other cause for complaint, perhaps forcing Norway into war.

    A neutral country has to observe the same rules of conduct towards all the belligerents (he continued). This maxim the Norwegian Government have tried most carefully to observe, and I dare to assert that nobody can justly complain that we have broken it. Regarding trade, too, we have pursued the same policy. When the war began, Norway immediately informed Germany that she would maintain the normal amount of commerce, and the same information was given to France and Great Britain. On this basis trade agreements were signed with Germany on February 23, and with England on March 11, and an agreement with France will be signed in the near future. I was pleased to see some days ago that Mr. Chamberlain had declared in the House of Commons that the agreement between Norway and Britain complied with British claims of what Norwegian neutrality should be in matters of trade.

    All other questions, too, we are treating in the strictest accordance with international law, and we feel confident that in that way we are doing justice to both sides remaining on safe ground ourselves. Only once have we been threatened on account of our adherence to our duties as a neutral, namely, in connexion with the City of Flint, five months ago. Germany then threatened us with the “worst consequences” if we did not defer to the German claims. When the case came to be cleared up, however, there was no question of any further threats, and the matter was discussed quietly and amicably.

    Three months ago the British Government though they had reason to accuse us of allowing German submarines to use Norwegian waters for operations of war. We asserted that the complaint was unfounded, and I noted with great pleasure that Mr. Chamberlain on March 19 stated in the House of Commons that, since the incidents at the beginning of December which caused the complaint, the British had detected no sign that the Germans were abusing Norwegian territorial waters. I appreciate highly that Mr. Chamberlain should so honestly have admitted this.

    Unfortunately, French and English newspapers continued long afterwards to make the old accusation against Norway, and even called on their Governments to take control of Norwegian territorial waters. I hope that our British and French friends will understand how offensive was this discussion of plans for enterprises within our borders. They must understand that we wish to maintain our independence without encroachments from any side, because we love our liberty as greatly as they love theirs.

    I suppose, however, that this inclination to violate our territory arises not so much from the imaginary war activities of Germany as from the desire to secure the peaceful and legal passage of cargo ships, which they believe is a one-sided advantage enjoyed by Germany.

    Professor Koht then referred to the transport to Germany of Swedish ore via Narvik. The export of ore via Narvik to Germany had, he said, been reduced to one-fourth of its previous quantity during the war, and at present more ore was being shipped from Narvik to England than to Germany.

    Moreover (he continued) the free passage of merchant ships through our territory is more to the advantage of England than of Germany, as our trade with England is much larger than with Germany. If the Allies should ask us to stop the free passage of merchant ships it would be a great disadvantage to themselves, and if they demanded that we should only forbid passage to the ships of one belligerent party it would be an open infringement of neutrality, which would immediately bring us into the war.
    The Foreign Minister warned all the belligerents that in future the Norwegians would try to shoot down any foreign aeroplanes violating their borders. He went on to refer to the encroachments committed by foreign warships in Norwegian waters.

    With regard to the Altmark, he said that England and Norway were now agreed about all the facts, and the dispute was only concerned with the interpretation of a principle of international law. He hoped to reach agreement also on this point, so that Norway could obtain reparation for this undoubted violation of her neutrality. There had been no other British encroachments so serious as the Altmark affair, and after the speeches of Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Churchill he was convinced that England had no intention of breaking international law or violating Norwegian independence.

    Professor Koht said that all violations of Norwegian territory were dangerous for her, but that the sea warfare on neutral ships was still more painful.

    So far (he said) we have lost 54 ships, totalling more than 120,000 registered tons, and 392 lives. About half of these losses have been due to mines and many others are due to unknown causes, but in at least 12 cases we know that the ship was sunk by a U-boat or by bombers and, in nine of these cases, without regard to the safety of the crew. Against these sinkings we have protested in the sharpest possible manner. Moreover, on March 8, the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish Governments made a mutual application to the German Government asking that the problem of sea warfare should be discussed officially, but so far no reply has been received.

    It is difficult to keep calm when one hears of the bombing of peaceful seamen, as for instance in the last case, when the liner Mira, with 100 passengers on board, was bombed several times. We cannot admit any justification for such action, even if the ship were under cover of British guns, and we cannot understand how this conduct can tally with the German sense of honour or with love of mankind. It creates resentment in this country which ought to be unwelcome to any belligerent.

    The English Press insists that we ought to protest to Germany against the killing of our sailors rather than against British technical violations of neutrality. I must point out, however, that small technical violations may involve great political consequences, and even a possibility that our country may be made a theatre of war.

    Concluding, Professor Koht made a statement on Norway’s attitude towards the Finnish-Russian war, and emphasized that the Finnish Government neither before the war nor during the war asked Norway to take part on the Finnish side. As for the defensive alliance he now thought it best to wait before establishing the alliance until the relationship between Finland and Russia was more clearly defined.





    The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riksdag met yesterday and was informed of the contents of the British communication handed to the Swedish Minister in London by Lord Halifax on Friday night. At the same time information was given about a similar communication received from the French Government. It is understood that the Swedish Government, after consultation with Norway, will give diplomatic answers to the two communications, although these raise no specific points concerning the policy of the day, but are more in the nature of a general discussion about the obligations of the neutrals during the continued war. The answers thus may be expected to outline the Swedish general view of the neutral attitude, perhaps illustrated by a comment on a number of hypothetical points raised by the Allied Governments.

    As it is assumed here that the Allied communications to Norway had the same main purport as those to Sweden, yesterday’s statement to the Storting by Professor Koht, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, has been studied here with great attention, and it may be said that the definitions he gave of a truly neutral attitude towards both sides in the European conflict find general acceptance here. Thus, while strongly condemning the German war on neutral shipping, of which Sweden has had nearly as shocking an experience as Norway, the Swedes, like the Norwegians, find it impossible to accept in the practice of neutrality the distinction between such violations of international law and the “technical infringements” hinted at from the Allied side and in some cases carried through, as in the Altmark affair.

    In the absence of authoritative information about the details of the Allied communications, the Stockholm newspapers have so far refrained from editorial comment. Their London correspondents speak of the amicable approach of the communications, and describe them as “a serious attempt to define the attitude of the Allies to certain hypothetical situation which, if they arose, must be considered as threats against Allied interests.” The main impression seems to be that the communications do not herald any immediate action.

    The Secretary-General of the Swedish Foreign Office, Hr. Erik Boheman, and Hr. Marcus Wallenberg, jun., the banker, have gone to Paris in connexion with negotiations for a French-Swedish war trade agreement, similar to the one concluded last December between Great Britain and Sweden.

    The watch of the Swedish Navy and Air Force over the territorial waters off the Swedish coast is to be intensified during the coming shipping season.
  6. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    dbf likes this.
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    This might be of help:

    Internet Archive: Details: I SAW IT HAPPEN IN NORWAY

    The book "I Saw It Happen In Norway", by C.J. Hambro.

    By the way, interesting reading that of T.K. Derry; had it in my paws a couple of years ago.

    Thanks for the tip Warlord,
    Looking forward to reading that for the Norwegian perspective.

  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD



    The following is the statement which has been broadcast to the world by the Allied Governments on their action in laying minefields off the Norwegian coast:-

    In recent weeks the German campaign against the merchant shipping of all nations has been intensified and pursued with even greater brutality than before. The number of neutral ships destroyed by German action is now well over 150, and the number of neutral lives lost is nearly 1,000. These attacks have been carried out in almost every case in defiance of the recognized rules of war, frequently in circumstances of the greatest barbarity, and on many occasions without the slightest justification for interference of any sort with the ship. Germany has announced that she regards herself as entitled to destroy any neutral ship en route to any British port, including contraband control harbours, and there have, moreover, been repeated cases of vessels being destroyed on voyage between two neutral ports, when the vessel had no intentions of touching at a British port at all. It is obvious that the German Government are engaged in an indiscriminate campaign of destruction throughout the waters in which their un-notified mines are laid, or in which their submarines are in a position to operate.

    While in recent weeks the greatest losses have fallen upon neutral shipping, British and Allied vessels have also suffered from the adoption of this policy of destruction, a new development of which is the bombing from the air of British and neutral trawlers and fishing boats and the machine-gunning of their crews. The innocent character of fishing boats has hitherto been universally recognized, but this has not prevented Germany from committing nearly 200 attacks on fishing vessels, aimed at sinking them and murdering their crews. Even light-ships, the object of which is to protect shipping of all nations and which are by international usage treated as non-combatants, have been with their crews ruthlessly attacked by bombs.

    It is a fact deserving of constant emphasis that these German attacks have been deliberately aimed at the destruction of neutral lives and property, and it is abundantly clear that the purpose behind them is pure terrorism. The Allies, on the other hand, have never destroyed nor injured a single neutral ship or taken a single neutral life. On the contrary, they have not only saved the lives of many innocent victims of these German outrages, but they have also not failed to rescue from drowning German airmen and submarine crews who have been guilty of the inhumanities in question.

    The position is therefore that Germany is flagrantly violating neutral rights in order to damage the Allied countries, while insisting upon the strictest observance of rules of neutrality whenever such observance would provide some advantage to herself. International law has always recognized the right of a belligerent, when its enemy has systematically resorted to illegal practices, to take action appropriate to the situation created by the illegalities of the enemy. Such action, even though not lawful in ordinary circumstances, becomes, and is generally recognized to become, lawful in view of the other belligerent’s violation of law. The Allied Governments therefore hold themselves entitled to take such action as they may deem proper in the present circumstances.

    The Allied Governments have observed that a heavy proportion of the losses inflicted upon neutral countries, both of human life and in material, has fallen upon the Norwegian Mercantile Marine. Yet, while the German Government repeatedly sink Norwegian shipping and murder Norwegian seamen, they continue to demand from the Norwegian Government the fullest use of Norwegian territorial waters for their own commerce, and the Norwegian Government have felt obliged to provide armed escort in these waters for German ships, while unable to take effective action against German brutality on the high seas, of which their own vessels have been the victims.

    Whatever may be the actual policy which the Norwegian Government, by German threats and pressure, are compelled to follow, the Allied Governments can no longer afford to acquiesce in the present state of affairs by which Germany obtains resources vital to her prosecution of the war, and obtains from Norway facilities which place the Allies at a dangerous disadvantage. They have therefore already given notice to the Norwegian Government that they reserve the right to take such measures as they may think necessary to hinder or prevent Germany from obtaining in Norway resources or facilities which, for the purpose of the war, would be to her advantage or to the disadvantage of the Allies. If the successful prosecution of the ar now requires them to take such measures world opinion will not be slow to realize both the necessity under which they are constrained to act and the purpose of their action. Their purpose in this war is to establish principles which the smaller States of Europe would themselves wish to see prevail and upon which the very existence of those States ultimately depends. The Allies, of course, will never follow the German example of brutal violence, and any action they decide to take will always be carried out in accordance with the dictates of humanity.

    His Majesty’s Government in United Kingdom and the French Government have accordingly resolved to deny the continued use by the enemy of stretch of territorial waters which are currently clear of particular value to him, and they have therefore decided to prevent unhindered passage of vessels carrying contraband of war through Norwegian territorial waters.

    They accordingly hereby give notice that the following areas of Norwegian territorial waters have been rendered dangerous to navigation on account of mines.

    Vessels entering these areas will do so at their peril:
    Stadlandet.- An area enclosed by the Norwegian coast and lines joining the following positions:-[List of coordinates given]
    Bud.- An area enclosed by the Norwegian coast and lines joining the following positions:-[List of coordinates given]
    West Fjord.- An area enclosed by the Norwegian coast and lines joining the following positions:-[List of coordinates given]


    It will be observed that the laying of mines in these areas will in no way interfere with the free access of Norwegian nationals or ships to their own ports and coastal hamlets.

    In order to avoid the least possibility of Norwegian or other vessels inadvertently entering these areas before there has been time to give warning of the mines being laid, arrangements have been made for the limits of the areas to be patrolled by British naval vessels until a period of 48 hours has elapsed from the laying of the first mine in each area. This measure, in conjunction with the broadcast warning, should fully provide for the safety of shipping.


    Professor Koht, speaking in the Storting last evening (states Reuter), said that he wanted to place before the house some of the documents concerning the “severe violation of her neutrality to which Norway has been exposed.”

    The first document (he said) was the Note which the British and French Ministers handed to him on April 5 and which was simultaneously transmitted by the two Powers to Sweden. It declared that developments during in the last three months had clearly shown that, without regard to the wishes of the Norwegian or Swedish peoples, the German Government were not willing to allow the Norwegian and Swedish Governments to have that freedom in matters of foreign policy to which they were entitled. The difficult position of the two Governments owing to the threats and pressure from Germany was appreciated, but under the present circumstances the Swedish and Norwegian Governments could not be regarded as free organs in every respect.

    The Allied Note went on (Professor Koht said): “Apart from this fact, the Allied Governments can no longer tolerate the present situation, which means that Germany receives from Norway and Sweden important war materials and that Germany benefits from advantages in those countries to the disadvantage and danger of the Allied Powers. They consequently feel that the time has now come to state clearly to the Norwegian Government that the Allied Governments will maintain certain vital claims and defence these claims in every way that they deem necessary themselves.”

    The Allied Governments’ Note added that they were bound to take appropriate steps to defend their interests, if the Norwegian Government refused to grand or cut down those advantages to trade and shipping which the Allied Governments deem necessary for their warfare, and which they feel that a neutral Government may reasonably approve. The Allies were fighting as much on behalf of the small nations as for their own cause, and they could not tolerate their progress being hampered owing to the advantages which Germany was now getting from Norway and Sweden. Consequently they reserved the right to take any steps which they deemed necessary to prevent Germany from receiving from those countries materials or advantages which would benefit Germany in war or be harmful to the Allies.

    Professor Koht said that he told the Ministers that there was no reason to accuse the Norwegian Government of not being free and independent, and that it was unfair to address the Norwegian Government in that way.

    I place the Note before the Government on Saturday (he continued) and spoke by telephone with the Swedish Foreign Minister. We agreed to prepare replies following the same lines, but before our replies could be sent developments occurred which created a completely new situation. At 5 o’clock this morning the British and French Ministers telephoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and said that they had another Note. Forty-five minutes later they came to the Ministry and delivered a Note, which said that their Governments would at once publish a statement to the effect that they were laying mines in certain areas off the Norwegian coast.

    I am not going to say much about the ideas and thoughts underlying that Note. These violations are carried out solely because they have the power to do so. The Western Powers are carrying the war into Norwegian territory because they think they can more easily win the war by doing so.
    The Norwegian Government at once published a statement to-day, and the replies sent to Great Britain and France have the same contents as that statement. I have not a single word to add to that statement.



    It was emphasized in authoritative quarters yesterday that the decision to lay mines at three points in Norwegian territorial waters was no the consequence of any sudden improvisation on the part of the Allied Governments and that it did not represent an isolated political stroke. It can safely be assumed that the decision was taken in principle by the Allied Supreme War Council at their meeting on March 28, the details and date being left to their expert advisers. It represents a move in what is intended to be a definite and continuous policy of tightening the blockade against Germany in every possibly way.

    Naturally the operation has been carefully prepared. Such moves are not left to sudden inspiration or to the turn of the hazard. It was necessary that it should be kept secret in order to prevent hostile interference and that at the same time it should be carried out in such a way as to inflict the minimum of inconvenience on neutrals. On that account stretches of water facing unfrequented parts of the Norwegian coast were there are no fishing villages were selected for the laying of mine-fields; the surrounding waters are being patrolled for 48 hours by warships of the Allies.

    The Norwegian Government were not warned of the impending operation. Such a warning would have put them in an impossible diplomatic position vis-à-vis Germany. So, while they were well aware of the general attitude of the Allies regarding Scandinavian neutrality, which was no doubt made clear by their communication to the Swedish and Norwegian Governments on April 6, they were ignorant of the precise intention of the Western Powers.

    The joint action of the Allies, it should be added, is emphatically not directed against neutrals but against the German Government. Admittedly it involves a technical breach of neutrality, but the rules of neutrality have always reposed on the common acceptance of their validity by all the combatants. Germany has observed no conventions or laws that do not suit her; the Allies have observed them almost pedantically in the hope that the Norwegian Government would be able to prevent Germany from persisting in methods of warfare which are both contrary to international law and inflict grievous harm on neutrals as well as upon belligerents.

    That hope has been disappointed, and hence their action has been taken. As to its possible consequences, it may be said at once that it is not the intention or wish of the Allies to extend the area of the war; but, should Germany take any hostile action against Norway in consequence of their latest move, they will know how to meet it.




    The news of the laying of British minefields in Norwegian waters has prompted the Nazi Press to a fine display of virtuous indignation. All the turgid phrases which were produced for the Altmark case are brought into use again. Never, in the whole of history, we are given to understand, has there been such deliberate and barefaced violation of the rights of a neutral State.

    “The total economic war which the Western Powers proclaimed against the Reich turns out in fact to be a declaration of war against the whole corporation of European neutrals,” writes the Hamburger Fremdenblatt.

    “So the spring offensive of the Allies amounts to this,” echoes the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. The common theme of the newspaper articles is that the Allies are too cowardly or too weak to strike direct at Germany and so use the neutrals as their cat’s-paws. It is the case of Finland over again.

    The telegrams to the German newspapers from Oslo and Stockholm deliberately stuck a catastrophic note. Public opinion in Norway is represented as being horrified and appalled at the British action. Oslo is said to be in a state of panic at the prospect of being involved in war at any moment. Feeling in Sweden is stated to be equally disturbed and resentful.

    There is no indication of what reply, if any, Germany will make to this step by the Allies. Dutch correspondents were told this morning that the German Government regarded what was happening “with icy indifference” and declined to be disturbed by a development which they had foreseen for a long time. Germany, it was said, was resolved to meet all developments wherever they might arise, and reserved her right to take whatever steps were appropriate.

    The only steps which would be appropriate in the case of the minefields would naturally be such as would result in their removal. For this the German Fleet would have to measure its strength with those of the Allies. Pressure on Norway is not likely to be effective unless backed by military force and a landing in Norway would open up another theatre of land warfare, which is precisely what the Germans claim has always been the aim of the Allies. The general impression in neutral circles in Berlin seems to be that the Germans will take no immediate action, but will wait to see first what Norway does and, secondly, what the reaction to this new phase of the war is in other neutral countries.

    The laying of minefields in Norwegian waters is coupled everywhere in the German Press with an alleged attempt by British agents to block the Danube for barge traffic, which is featured as another flagrant violation of neutrality, in this case Rumanian. The story is that a number of British barges and motor-boats while on their way up the Danube were found to be loaded with cargoes of explosives and arms, including guns, and hand grenades. The barges are said to have been accompanied by 100 picked soldier-specialists under the command of five officers, who were all disguised as bargemen. The cargoes had been declared as goods in transit.

    The whole expedition is supposed to have been piloted by an agent of the British Secret Service camouflaged as a Vice-Consul. Its presumed aim, according to the German Press, was to block the channel of the Danube at the Iron Gates by sinking the barges in the river and blowing up part of the dykes. The arms and ammunitions were to protect the party if they were surprised while at work.

    This story, be it noted, comes from Berlin, not from Bucharest. From the account given by the German News Agency one is led to suppose that the “plot” was discovered by German Secret Service agents, who informed the Rumanian Government. It is stated in Berlin to-day that the whole convoy is being detained in the harbour of Giurgiu, the Rumanian oil port on the




    “A fateful turn for the worse,” runs a headline in one of the Stockholm newspapers this afternoon, and that sums up the first shocked impression produced in Sweden by the news that British and French warships had laid three minefields inside Norwegian territorial waters.

    The foremost danger to Sweden at the moment it is though here, lies in the form the expected German counter-measures may take. It was confirmed this afternoon that a German force, consisting of 48 ships, most of them small armed trawlers and patrol vessels, had been observed steaming north through the Great Belt this morning and had reached the neighbourhood of Læsø at about 1 p.m. Nothing was known about its goal, but the anxious question asked everywhere was whether the German reprisal would take the form of laying a minefield between Denmark and Norway which would cut Sweden’s sea communications with the West.






    A Reuter message from Oslo received early this morning stated that the export of iron ore from Narvik was stopped yesterday afternoon.

    News of the mining of Norwegian territorial waters by the British and French Governments came like a thunderclap to the Norwegian people this morning. The first news was broadcast by the Norwegian wireless at 8 a.m. and many at first refused to believe it. Then followed the special bulletins giving the British and French statement and announcing that the Cabinet and the Foreign Committee of the Storting had assembled for a joint meeting together with the Army and Navy chiefs. At noon the following statement was issued by the joint meeting:-

    The British and French Governments early to-day mined three places in Norwegian territorial waters with the object of stopping free navigation within Norwegian territory, and British warships are patrolling these areas.

    The Norwegian Government make a serious and solemn protest against this open breach of international law and this violation by force of Norwegian sovereignty and neutrality. Throughout the war Norway has observed all the rules of neutrality with the greatest of care, and it is in full accordance with regulation which are generally recognized that Norwegian waters have been kept open to all legitimate traffic by ships belonging to belligerent countries.

    Since the British and French Governments have now taken steps to bar traffic with Germany, the Norwegian Government must remind the British Government that on March 11 they signed an agreement with Norway by which Norwegian goods, including goods which are regarded as contraband, may be sold and exported by Norway to Germany. The Norwegian Government had therefore all the less reason to expect that the Allied Governments would forcibly interfere and try to stop this traffic.

    The Norwegian Government cannot in any way agree to a belligerent country placing mines in Norwegian territory. They must require that such mines be immediately removed and all foreign warships withdrawn. The Norwegian Government must reserve their right to take all suitable steps which such a violation of neutrality may occasion.

    At 5 p.m. the Storting assembled. After a brief secret session the galleries were opened to the public and were soon packed, while thousands of spectators stood outside the buildings.

    Professor Koht then laid before the Storting the documents connected with today’s events, with very little personal comment.

    The first document he quoted was the Allied communication to Norway and Sweden made on Friday night. He had conferred with the Swedish Foreign Minister on this question and they had agreed to consult before replying. But before the reply could be sent he received early this morning a new Note from the Allied Governments announcing the mining of Norwegian waters.

    When the Foreign Minister had finished speaking the President of the Storting, Hr. Hambro, declared that the Storting gave full approval to the Government’s statement, and expressed the hope that the Government would succeed in settling the difficulties which had arisen for Norway in such a way that the old friendship between the nations would not be too much endangered.

    At about 7 p.m. the Storting reassembled in secret session to discuss the steps which Norway would take in connexion with the Allied action. The session ended at 9 p.m. No statement was issued.

    A British aeroplane made a forced landing at Kristiansand yesterday, says the British United Press. The crew have been interned.

    A German aeroplane is reported to have landed at Lyngstad, near Kristiansand. The crew of two are reported to have reached the shore and disappeared.

    The Norwegian Admiralty announced last night that all lighthouses between the Swedish frontier and Marsteinen, near Bergen, would be extinguished until further notice, states Reuter.

    Oslo was blacked out and an air-raid alarm sounded at midnight last night, says the British United Press Correspondent in Oslo. The alarm lasted from 12.20 a.m. to 1.35 a.m.
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