This is excellent history that adds to the World War II literature and should be of interest to everyone interested in the European Theater of World War II. The German campaign to seize Denmark and Norway has been treated well before (but not from Norway's viewpoint), most especially in the Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-271, "The German Northern Theater of Operations 1940-1945" by Earl F. Ziemke: Washington; US Government Printing Office, 1959. The treatment of the planning phase for Operation Weseruebing (Weser Exercise (the Weser is a river in Germany)) from the time of Quisling's visit in December, 1939, in 20-271, Part I, Chapters 1-6, is similar to that in this book, although I noted that this pamphlet was not mentioned in the author's list of references. The DA pamphlet, however, credits Raeder with attempting to focus Hitler's attention on Norway well before Quisling's visit.
The outstanding part of this work is that the author looks at the operation from the Norwegian, German, British, Danish, Swedish and French sides in descending order of treatment and importance -- something simply not done anywhere before. The political policies, actions and blunders on all sides is extremely well presented, and there is much new material here to digest. For example, it was Churchill who first violated Norwegian neutrality, and had the Germans not mounted Weseruebing, the British would have put a friendly occupying force ashore in Norway. This was one of the things the Norwegian politicians feared, as it would almost force them into a hostile stance against the side they favored. Had the book stopped at the moment the Bluecher entered the Oslofjord, it still would have received five stars.
The intelligence received by the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians of impending German action four and five days before the invasion and the actions taken are discussed at length in this work, far beyond anything I have seen before, and are also alone worth the price of the book.
The author focuses primarily on the naval aspect of the invasion, and his treatment is detailed and thorough. German, Norwegian and British actions are all presented as the author moves from one geographical area to another. It must be remembered that the invasion points were widely separated, and exposed to attack by the British Royal Navy. The narrative essentially ends on April 10th, the 2nd day of the invasion, with the Germans ashore at all points and preparing to complete their conquest on the ground and fight off the British and French expeditionary forces that were to come shortly. Combat at some points, like the attack on Suffolk on April 17th are covered, but only the naval actions.
The invasion is covered from point to point starting with the attack on Oslo through the Oslofjord, the sinking of the Bluecher, the reduction of the Norwegian forts, and the seizing of the Fornebu airport at Oslo. The narrative then moves to Kristiansand-Arendal, Stavanger-Egersund, Bergen, Trondeim and finally Narvik. The British attacks on Narvik and the sinking of all 10 German destroyers there is covered in substantial detail. The actual landing of British troops and the subsequent ground actions and the eventual withdrawal is left for a following volume.
In many respects (or possibly in all respects) Weseruebing was a hairbrained operation, hastily planned, and extremely risky. That the Germans were able to pull it off and seize control of Norway is remarkable, and primarily due to the Norwegian insistance of maintaining their neutrality. Norway was a strategic area for both Germany and Britain, and had to go one way or the other. The Norwegian politicians lived in a fantasy world rather than practicing realpolitik. Both Churchill and Hitler did, and Norway paid the price for their naivete. The Norwegian military establishment had been decimated in the 1930s, and the Norwegians were simply not prepared to defend themselves against anyone. With respect to their geography, Norway was a tough nut to crack, but even the most difficult terrain must be defended. As the saying goes, you only get to keep what you're willing to defend. The author clearly showed that the Norwegian politicians threw away their birthright for principle. As I said, there is much to learn here. Even for today.
In 1941 Norway's population was about the same as present-day San Diego, or about 1/100th that of the United States. In addition, Norway was socialist with a homogenous population, a single religion, culture, language, and common ethnic background. Without going very far back in time, Norwegians are all related to each other one way or another. As such, their independence as a group was prized above all other things, and they rejected being drawn into what they perceived to be other countries' problems. Unfortunately for Norway, being left alone was not an option for the beligerent powers. Today, Norway is the size of Boston's SMSA, so Nobel prizes are given out by the equivalent of city counselors of Boston.
For the military historian the appendixes are valuable references, although German casualties are woefully understated. The endnotes are likewise very valuable, and I recommend the reader keep a bookmark on the notes for ready reference while reading. Many, if not most, of the references are in Norwegian or German, and probably of little use to most English readers. The author has done English readers a great service in making the information in these sources available in English in this work.
I highly recommend this book to everyone interested in World War II, and especially those who believe that national security can be achieved through talking, trusting opponents, and treaties. Had Hitler not attacked the Soviet Union, Norway (and France, for that matter) might still be speaking German today.