Biography of World War II Major Vidkun Quisling

About the World War II Major Vidkun Quisling, biography of the Norwegian whose name has become synominous with traitor.


Of the men and women whose names have become synonyms for traitor, only Vidkun Quisling's has shed its capital letter in the dictionaries. A quisling is universally a traitorous puppet of the enemy and was one of the most quickly adopted of modern additions to the language, even inspiring the little-used verb "quisle," which means "to betray one's country." Maj. Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945) earned his rank in the Norwegian Army, having served as military attache in Russia and Finland. An ardent fascist, he formed the National Unity party shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933, but never attracted more than a minuscule following, most Norwegians considering him mentally unbalanced. Then the Nazis invaded Norway on April 8, 1940, and the ridiculous lunatic of the Right came into power.

Quisling had met with Hitler in Berlin 3 days before, confiding strategic information to the Fuhrer when told that Norway's occupation was imminent. The morning of the invasion he went on Nazi-controlled radio to countermand King Haakon's order for full mobilization of the Army. Haakon and his Government barely escaped to England, and Quisling, who had no official authority at all, was appointed Premier. Public reaction forced him to resign a week later, but Hitler insisted that he be reinstated the following September. Quisling had no administrative talents and proved an embarrassment to the Nazis on many occasions. Brutally suppressing all opposition, the Minister-President assumed King Haakon's chair in the palace and drove around in the bulletproof limousine presented him by Hitler. He surrounded himself with luxuries, occupying a bombproof, 46-room villa on an island near Oslo, where the walls were hung with priceless paintings from the national museum and he ate from gold dishes. So paranoid did he become that 150 bodyguards accompanied him at all times and every scrap of food he ate was sampled by someone else 1st, but this did not prevent him from becoming one of history's greatest megalomaniacs. He gave himself authority to make any document legal, issued postage stamps bearing his portrait, ordered pictures of himself hung everywhere.

Norwegians came to despise Quisling and his SS organization, the Hird, like no other countryman before him, and long before the war ended his name was a synonym for a puppet-traitor. After the Germans surrendered in Norway, he was charged with treason, theft, and murder, specifically the deaths of 1,000 Jews, whom he had ordered deported, and 100 other countrymen. Found guilty on all counts, Quisling was shot by a firing squad on October 24, 1945, Norway changing its long-standing law against capital punishment for this purpose.

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