Norwegian Volunteers Of The Waffen SS, by Geir Brenden & Tommy Natedal
Although I do not often have the chance to formally review books about World War II history , as Norwegian history is part of my beat as a historian , I was greatly intrigued by the opportunity to read and review a book on Norwegian volunteers of the Waffen SS for the Michigan War Studies Review. Norway’s role in World War II is full of complexity and ambiguity. Norway was a conquered country that at least attempted to resist the Wehrmacht, and had a healthy partisan movement that required Hitler to put a lot of soldiers on the ground (relative to its scarce population) to preserve Nazi rule. On the other hand, the experience of Norway in World War II was responsible for adding a particularly ugly word to the English language in quisling and there were plenty of Nordic volunteers for the Waffen SS to die in “glory” on the Eastern front in the horrors of that brutal and ugly war. To be sure, this is not a volume that will likely hang with pride on many of the families of the soldiers included. This may be among the rare cases of a regimental history that likely no one who was a part of the regiment would want their service to be remembered.
In looking at this book itself, the book comes with a lot of heft. The book is composed of more than 500 oversized pages, meaning that this is a book suitable for free weights for many of its readers, myself possibly included. Most of the book appears to contain photographs of the soldiers who happened to be volunteers. It is important to note that word, as we are not talking about people who were impressed or drafted into service for a hated regime, but those who, for whatever reason, decided to fight on the side of one of the worst regimes in the dark course of human history. Whether these people fought for mercenary reasons or belief, these people were volunteers, and not in the sense that they were “voluntarily” removed from a United Airlines flight. That is a striking and unusual matter to explain and one wonders how these people tried to lay low when World War II ended in disastrous defeat for Nazi Germany and its various puppet regimes.
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