The Norwegian Armed Forces and Defense Policy, 1905-1955

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After Norway gained full independence from Sweden in 1905, it faced the challenge of maintaining its sovereignty as a small state caught in the midst of rivalries and conflicts among the great powers. This book examines how the armed forces played an important part in this policy through the end of World War I, followed by the steep decline in Norwegian defense spending and capabilities in the face of economic depression and apparent absence of international threats in 1918, the Labor government’s taking office in 1935 with Norway still lacking any clear military strategy or unified defense policy on the eve of World War II, the German invasion in 1940, and then the apparent danger of a Soviet invasion in 1948 that galvanized the government to make defense a priority, Norway’s NATO membership in 1949 and participation in the American Military Assistance Program in 1950, both reflecting Norway’s choice of collective security over non-alignment.


“This book is a living example of intellectual growth, a willingness to take the hard road less well-traveled, and the victory of persistent scholarship. Professor Thompson, with Dr. Riste's help and encouragement, has written the definitive account in English of Norway's passage from a defense policy of denial and groundless optimism to a full partnership in the collective security provided by NATO. The combination of military occupation, 1940-1945, and fascist collaborationism by Vidkun Quisling and his supporters provided the complete and costly trauma that brought a revolutionary change in Norwegian defense policy. In concert with Professor Riste's own magisterial account of Norwegian foreign policy, Norway's Foreign Relations (2001), Professor Thompson's book provides a clear picture of how one Scandinavian nation overcame its neutralist-isolationist instincts to become a full partner in the New Europe. Professor Thompson's book will establish him not only as an expert in Norwegian history, but as an important voice in the debate over post-Cold War security policy and collective internationalism. This book is not just the end of one scholarly project, but the prologue for books yet to be written.” – (From the Preface) Allan R. Millett, Maj. Gen. Raymond E. Mason, Jr. Professor of Military History at the Ohio State University

“If David Thompson had chosen to write a book about Norway in the Second World War, he would have been making a worthwhile contribution to the field, since that country normally receives little more than passing mention in works about the war or the major powers’ forces. What he chose to do instead is much more valuable for its breadth: an examination of Norway’s defense policy that, while covering the cataclysm of 1940-45 thoroughly, also gives the reader the opportunity to understand why it happened and where it led. Moreover, on top of the scholarly effort that such a work requires, Thompson succeeds in holding the reader’s interest with prose that is clear, engaging and lively. The result is not just an important book, but an enjoyable one.” - Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler’s High Command

“David Thompson's The Norwegian Armed Forces and Defense Policy, 1905-1955 is an impressive piece of scholarly writing. After two chapters of background, the book explores in depth a little known but not insignificant aspect of World War II. Norway was largely ignored in Allied strategy, although Churchill continued to maintain interest for maritime reasons. Thompson gives considerable attention to the efforts of the government in exile to get some attention from the Allies and maintain a position among the Norwegian people. The conditions of the Norwegian population under German occupation are well covered. Thompson's book is especially valuable on Norway's relationship with Germany prior to and during the war. Closing material deals with Norway's decision to join NATO. World War II was a war of nationalities, and it is important to grasp the interactions of the many and diverse nations of Europe during that great conflict. By concentrating on Norway, Thompson has made a useful contribution to understanding one facet of that complex subject.” - Earl A. Reitan, Illinois State University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface, Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
1. Independence and Armed Neutrality, 1905-1918
2. International Peace and the “Internal Foe”, 1918-1933
3. The “Etiquette Defense”, 1933-1939
4. Norway and the “Phony War”, 1939-1940
5. The 1940 Campaign: Bolt from the Blue
6. The 1940 Campaign: Endgame
7. Norway in Eclipse, 1940-1941
8. Closing Ranks, 1942-1943
9. The Road to Liberation, 1944-1945
10. Uncertain Peace, 1945-1947
11. Reluctant Alliance, 1948-1955
Conclusion: From Neutrality to NATO

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