Referred to as the Norwegian Führer, Quisling lived in a mansion on Bygdøy in Oslo which he called Gimle after Norse mythology.
Quisling had a mixed and relatively successful background, having achieved the rank of major in the Norwegian army, and worked with Fridtjof Nansen in the Soviet Union during the famine in the 1930s, as well as having served as defense minister in the agrarian government 1931-1933. He was son of the Lutheran priest and well-known genealogist Jon Lauritz Qvisling.
On May 17 1933, the Norwegian national day, Quisling and state attorney Johan Bernhard Hjort formed Nasjonal Samling (National Unity), the Norwegian national-socialist party. Nasjonal Samling had an anti-democratic, "leader"-oriented political structure, and Quisling was to be that leader, much like Adolf Hitler was for the NSDAP in Germany. The party went on to have modest successes, in the election of 1933, four months after the party was formed, it garnered 27850 votes, following support from the Norwegian Farmer's Aid Association, with which Quisling had connections from his time as a member of the Agrarian government. However, as the party line changed from a religiously rooted one to a more pro-German and anti-Semitic hardline policy from 1935 onwards, the support from the Church waned, and in the 1936 elections, the party got ca.50 000 votes. The party became increasingly extremist, and party membership dwindled to an estimated 2000 members after the German invasion.When Germany invaded Norway on April 9 1940, Quisling became the first person in history to announce a coup during a news broadcast, declaring an ad-hoc government during the confusion of the invasion, hoping that the Germans would support it. Quisling had visited Adolf Hitler in Germany the year before, and was liked by Hitler, so Quisling's belief that the Germans would back his government were not entirely unfounded. However, the Germans desired more direct control over occupied Norway, and the Quisling government lasted only five days, after which Josef Terboven was installed as Reichskommissar, the highest authority in Norway, answering directly to Hitler. The relationship between Quisling and Terboven was tense, although Terboven, presumably seeing an advantage in having a Norwegian in a position of power to reduce resentment in the population, named Quisling to the post of Minister President (Prime Minister) in 1942 and he assumed that position on February 1, 1943.
After the German surrender, hundreds of thousands of Norwegians, especially women having affairs (Tyskertøs, direct translation "German slut") or children Lebensborn ("war children") with German soldiers and other members of Nasjonal Samling, faced investigation and trial on charges of treason. The Nazi children were to be treated by the parliament of the street and blamed for their fathers' sins for the rest of their lives (N.B.: ABBA member Anni-frid Lyngstad was one of these Lebensborn). In many ways the darkest part of the Norwegian World War II history. Quisling, along with two other NS leaders, Albert Viljam Hagelin and Ragnar Skancke, were convicted and executed by firing squad. In later days these sentences have been controversial, as Quisling's participation was completely insignificant to the situation of Norway in WW2.
After World War II, the term "quisling" became a synonym in many European languages for traitor (see Judas, and the understanding of Benedict Arnold in the United States).
See also: Weserübung, British campaign in Norway, Norwegian resistance movement
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