Quisling, Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn°

views updated


QUISLING, VIDKUN ABRAHAM LAURITZ JONSSØN ° (1887–1945), Norwegian who openly met the conquering Nazis as their collaborator; since he was the first to do so, the British press used his name as the symbol of all collaborators and traitors during World War ii. Born in Fyresdal (southern province of Telemark), where his father was a priest, he graduated with distinction from the military academy of Norway and served as an officer in the General Staff (1911–18). His special interest in Russia – and his fluent Russian – brought about his appointment as military attaché to the Soviet Union and a diplomatic post in Petrograd (St. Petersburg, 1918–19) and Helsinki (1920–21). He became an assistant to Fridtjof Nansen fighting starvation in Ukraine in 1922 and after fulfilling humanitarian tasks on behalf of the League of Nations returned to Norway after Nansen's death in 1930. In his politics he veered from the Soviet-oriented left to the fascist right. He was minister of defense in 1931–33 in the government of the Farmers' Party. In 1933 Quisling founded his own party, Nasjonal Samling (National Union), which never gained popular support. The Nazi leaders took an interest in him while the invasion into Norway was planned, when he was received by Hitler on whom he made a favorable impression. On the day of the invasion he declared himself prime minister but was removed six days later by the German authorities, who installed Josef Terboven as a military police governor. In February 1942 Quisling succeeded in being named prime minister, but although his influence was nil, he committed enough crimes, including the preparations for the deportation of the Jews, to be condemned to death by a Norwegian tribunal in 1945, and was executed on October 24. The Norwegian government earmarked the mansion in which Quisling lived during World War II and until his arrest for a Center for Holocaust and Minorities Studies, comprising a research center and a museum. The Center is financed by Norwegian Holocaust restitution funds and was opened in 2006.

[Leni Yahil]