Essays

Vidkun Quisling: Leader, Humanitarian, Hero

quislingby Michael Walsh

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the power of propaganda or consider yourself immune to it. Propaganda is persistent, powerful, and pervasive. The courage and integrity of Norwegian statesman Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945) sets him apart from all but a very few great men. Yet our enemies have twisted the language in an attempt to make his name synonymous with base treachery and cowardice.

When on June 22, 1941, the Reich invaded Soviet-occupied Europe, the guts were torn out of Stalin’s intention to invade Europe three weeks later on July 6. During their rapid deployment, German troops were astonished to find icons and busts of Vidkun Quisling and Fridtjof Nansen placed in homesteads and Orthodox Churches. Few of these troops would be other than vaguely aware of Quisling, but throughout the Reich-liberated territories Quisling was revered as a saint.

At 21 years old the young Norwegian entered on an Army officer’s career. Three years later he achieved the best marks ever recorded in the history of Norway’s Military Academy. Such was the young Quisling’s standing that a special report was forwarded to the King of Norway. The young lieutenant was immediately attached to the General Staff. Four years later, Vidkun Quisling became closely involved with Fridtjof Nansen. The acclaimed explorer had earned the distinction of being the first in history to traverse the world’s largest island, Greenland. (Australia is a continent.)

Vidkun Quisling with Hitler
Vidkun Quisling with Hitler

Fridtjof Nansen

The renowned scientist was also celebrated for his humanitarian work under the auspices of the Relief Committee for Russia. Vidkun Quisling’s mentor was responsible for the humane repatriation of 450,000 prisoners of war rescued from 26 countries in the aftermath of the Great War. Nansen, assisted by his aide Vidkun Quisling, was charged with bringing relief to millions of refugees caused by the Bolsheviks’ plunder of Ukraine. The artificial famine there led to the deaths of 10 million Ukrainians. Fridtjof Nansen and Vidkun Quisling led a team said to have saved the lives of over seven million people.

In the foreword to Fridtjof Nansen’s narrative will be found the explorer’s thanks to Vidkun Quisling: “These prefatory words cannot be brought to conclusion without heartfelt thanks to Captain Vidkun Quisling, for his tireless friendship as a fellow-traveller and for his valuable assistance he has rendered to the author through his comprehensive knowledge of Russian.”

Vidkun-QuislingFor his humanitarian achievements and his services to the British Crown, Vidkun Quisling was honoured with the British order of Commander of the British Empire (CBE). Ironically, it is England and not Quisling who, by their base betrayal of Sir Vidkun Quisling are the ones who are deserving of the ignoble words treachery and cowardice.

At dawn on October 24, 1945, Vidkun Quisling was assassinated by a state firing squad. Awoken and without even the comfort of a jacket the great humanist was taken into the bitter cold of the prison yard at Mollergaten Gaol in Oslo. Shortly afterward a volley of shots reverberated beyond the prison walls. One of Europe’s most enigmatic and bravest leaders crumpled to the withering fire of the squad’s bullets. It was hardly the Allies’ most glorious of moments.

Back inside the prison, on the stone floors outside the recently vacated Cell 34B, were scattered rose petals. They had likely come from one of the many bouquets given by the people to Vidkun Quisling, even in the hours of his defeat and imprisonment. Upon the solitary desk in the sparse cell rested a copy of the Christian Bible. Its pages were lying open. Vidkun Quisling was a profoundly religious and charitable man. Twice underlined were the words: “He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.”

Perhaps even more apropos are the words of Arthur Schopenhauer:

The highest that can be achieved is an heroic passage through life. Such a life is led by the man who, pursuing a purpose for the benefit of all, struggles against all too great difficulties, yet receives a poor reward or no reward at all.

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Source: Author

Recommended: Heroes Hang When Traitors Triumph by Michael Walsh
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2 Comments

  1. JM/Iowa
    August 5, 2016 at 4:46 pm — Reply

    A moving essay, the lesson about a heroic passage through life such as what Quisling lived noted well. Thank you, author.

  2. August 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    You’re welcome, my felloe ethnic-European. Such men never die; they live on in us. We are constantly inspired by such men; they passage invites us ~ encourages us to follow their example. I do.

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