The Search for Thor
A brief overview of the Resistance
by Randi Millman-Brown
Thor Jensen, 36, moves from Oslo to Hammerfest. He is promoted to bank manager, becomes engaged, and takes a one-month hiking trip through occupied Finnmark in 1941. By the end of the year, he is dead, leaving behind a mystery, a diary, and many questions. This column chronicles his great niece’s attempt to solve that mystery.
I loved spending time going through Thor’s travelogue last month—reading about what he carried with him in his knapsack and his travails securing food on his hike through occupied Finnmark in 1941.
I have been writing several grant applications the last several months and while descibing my book proposal, I realized there is a slight possibility Thor was working undercover in some capacity for Norges Bank, and there is also the possibility he was working for one of the early resistance organizations in Norway.
The Norwegian resistance essentially began on April 9, 1940, the day Germany invaded Oslo, and ended in 1945. Here is a list of the most important resistance organizations and a little information about each.
Norwegian Independent Company 1 (NOR.I.C.1) (aka Company Linge): This was a British SOE (Special Operations Executive) group that formed in March 1941. Captain Martin Linge was the head of this group. (530 Norwegians served in this group, and 57 were killed).
Milorg (abbreviation of militær organisasjon—military organization): Formed in May 1941, it had 32,000 members by 1944. This was the main Norwegian resistance movement. It collected intelligence, ran sabotage operations, conducted raids, committed espionage, and more.
XU (X for “unknown” and U for “undercover agent”): By 1945, this group had approximately 1,500 members throughout Norway. Most members of this clandestine intelligence-gathering organization were students from the University of Oslo (which Thor had attended). Most information about this group was kept secret until 1988.
Osvald Group: This sabotage organization was active from July 1941 to July 1944, with over 200 members who performed more than 100 sabotage campaigns.
Pella Goup: Formed in 1944, this group conducted 16 acts of sabotage, and seven of its 100 members were executed in 1945.
The R-Group: Formed in August 1940, members worked to organize underground resistance in various locations throughout Norway—the group dissolved due to members being arrested or forced to flee.
Ida and Lyra Group: This consisted of two radio transmitters operated by resistance groups in Finnmark. It was operated by the British SIS (Secret Intelligence Service).
In addition to these resistance groups, teachers, many church leaders, and parents all protested the occupation during the war.
During the course of war, over 40,000 Norwegians were imprisoned. Of these, 658 lost their lives.
Randi Millman-Brown is an art historian, photographer, part-time genealogist, and writer living in Ithaca, N.Y. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the January 25, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.