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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 6. May 28, 1947


A very short outline of the Norwegian University struggle 1940-43 (abridged from a little pamphlet published by the Royal Norwegian Information Office in London, 1944).

After the occupation of Norway in April, 1940, the Germans thought they would be able to achieve a total nazification of the University by quisling infiltration, propaganda and threats. They did not wish to dose down the University but hoped, to convert the students little by little, by the help of Nazi students and by appointing new. Nazi professors. But this scheme revealed their total ignorance of the Norwegian spirit and tradition. The vast majority of students and professors immediately took their stand on the basis, of Norwegian democracy and intellectual liberalism, and the University remained under the firm leadership of its Rector (Chancellor), Professor Seip. The students continued their activities as usual, but the big debating and cultural society, "The Students' Union," was dissolved in October, 1940, after a meeting with the students vigorously protesting against the German plans to depose the King.

But the step by step nazification of the University totally failed, and the Germans decided to remove Professor Seip and fill the students' organisation with quislings. The Nazis co-ordinated their first strike upon the University with an attack upon the Trade Union movement in September, 1941. Oslo was declared in a state of emergency, and two labour leaders were shot. Professor Seip was arrested and transferred to a concentration camp outside the town. Some six months later he was deported to Germany. A quisling "minister" was appointed Rector, and one of the few quisling lecturers was appointed Acting Rector. The Students' Faculty Committees and the Students' Joint Committee were taken over by the few quisling students.

What was now to do for the students? At first a spontaneous strike broke out at the University. Many students would have preferred to have the University closed down for the duration of the war, and they felt it a painful humiliation to continue their studies when their leader was languishing in a concentration camp. But for many reasons they decided to go on as if nothing had happened. To the nation the mere existence of the national University was a source of strength in this time of trial. The few Nazi students mattered little to the others, they were completely frozen out. Most of the Nazi lecturers did not appear at the University at all, as they got no audience. And the other professors continued their lectures with a boldness, as if no Germans were in the country. But safe the students and the professors never felt.

There were constantly rumours that the University would be closed down by the Germans, and this hampered the studies. Besides, a great number of the students and teachers took part in the underground movement in some way or other.

In February, 1943, universal labour conscription was introduced, and the students had to register at the Labour Exchanges. The Oslo students were summoned to a meeting at the University, and the head of the Nazi students declared that the labour service of the students only should consist in cutting wood to meet the fuel requirements of the University. Next day the newspapers brought the sensational news that the students now supported their Nazi leaders and trusted them to safeguard their interests. The students answered this assertion by sending in individual protests, signed with their full names, rejecting all association with the Nazified committees. Numerous arrests of students suspected of being instigators of the protest followed.