Weser exercise company

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Weser exercise company
Denmark, Norway and the western campaign in 1940
Denmark, Norway and the western campaign in 1940
date April 9 to June 10, 1940
place Norway , Denmark
output Occupation of Denmark and Norway by the German Empire
Parties to the conflict
FranceFrance United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Allied neutrals
DenmarkDenmark NorwayNorway
German Reich NSGerman Reich (Nazi era)
German Empire

William Wain Prior , Hjalmar Rechnitzer (Denmark), Otto Ruge (Norway)

Erich Raeder , Nikolaus von Falkenhorst

Troop strength
approx. 14,500 (Denmark), approx. 60,000 (Norway) and 35,000 (Allies) 120,000

4,400 British
1,335 Norwegians
530 French and Poles
26 Danes

1,317 killed (including 20 in Denmark)
2,375 missing
1,604 wounded (including 65 in Denmark)

The Weser Exercise Company , also known as the Weser Exercise Case , was the code name for the attack by the German Wehrmacht on Norway and Denmark during the Second World War on April 9, 1940.

Strategic goals of the invasion were the occupation of the Norwegian ports in order to expand the German starting position in the war against Great Britain and to prevent a sea ​​blockade , the control of the Baltic Sea accesses and the securing of the iron ore supply for the German armaments industry from Kiruna ( Sweden ) via Narvik . Denmark seemed to the planners under General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst as an indispensable supply route. In the long term, Norway and Denmark were to be incorporated into a "Greater Germanic Empire" on the European continent.

Both Denmark and Norway were neutral . In 1939, Denmark was the only northern European country to have signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. Germany gave both states an ultimatum with the assurance that their territorial integrity and political independence would not be compromised if they surrendered immediately. Norway refused; the Danes accepted after a few hours of fighting. In the Battle of Narvik , the Wehrmacht suffered their first defeat of the war. Allied troops landed were victorious and were in the process of pushing the German troops to Sweden when the war situation in the west (especially France) made it necessary to relocate the Allied expedition corps to France on May 24, 1940. It was not until June 9 that the German troops under General Eduard Dietl were able to recapture Narvik. Norway capitulated on June 10, 1940, when the German victory in the western campaign was foreseeable.

Strategic considerations

At the beginning of the war, considerations of gaining bases for the navy in Norway played a decisive role for the German admiralty. This claim is supported by numerous indications that have been documented since Vice-Admiral Wegener's memorandum entitled The Naval Strategy of the World War from 1926. Accordingly, in the First World War, prior to a German maritime offensive, an understanding with Denmark about the occupation of its waters and the opening of the belte closed by Denmark should have been reached in order to gain the key to the Baltic Sea and to achieve maritime control over the Nordic trade routes. On the British side, however, the considerations were aimed at supporting the Finnish troops in the winter war by engaging the Allies in northern Scandinavia and at the same time cutting off the German Empire from the Scandinavian sources of raw materials. Before these plans could reach the stage of serious preparations, however, the initial situation changed: with the peace of Moscow on March 13, 1940, with the winter war, the considerations for a military undertaking on the Allied side also came to an end. The Allies started planning a two-part undertaking. The mining of Norwegian waters in Operation Wilfred was intended to provoke the opposing side to intervene, which was then to be countered by landing its own troops as part of Plan R 4 . The German Reich, for its part, carried out further plans for the invasion of Scandinavia, which Erich Raeder in particular urged, regardless of the general situation in this region now more relaxed. On March 26, Adolf Hitler agreed to the proposals of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in anticipation of another lightning strike . The company was to be guided by the strategic guidelines that Hitler had already formulated on April 1st: securing the Swedish ore supplies, improving the starting position for the war against Great Britain and controlling the accesses to the Baltic Sea. Under these conditions, the attack on the Scandinavian countries took place a few days later, not as a preventive measure - as is often shown in the literature - but as an expression of "sheer aggression".


Raeder's presentation of the situation to Hitler on November 10, 1939

Grand Admiral Erich Raeder , the originator of the Weser Exercise company

Grand Admiral Raeder had been urging Adolf Hitler to occupy Norway since October 1939. This was intended to forestall Great Britain, which had declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, which sooner or later would very likely do so itself. On November 10, 1939, Raeder attempted another foray into Hitler. In his lecture, he called for the siege of Great Britain to be forced, which was a paraphrase for unrestricted submarine warfare . Raeder stated in this connection that the conquest of the Dutch coast would not bring any advantages for the submarine war, but bases on the Norwegian coast, which could possibly be acquired with the help of Soviet pressure; specifically he named Trondheim.

The winter war and the consequences for Scandinavia

The situation in the Scandinavian countries changed suddenly when the Soviet Union began the winter war against Finland on November 30, 1939 . While the Scandinavian states agreed on December 7, 1939 that they would maintain strict neutrality on the issue of this conflict, the Western Allies saw an excellent opportunity to increase their influence on these states under the pretext of supporting Finland against the Soviet Union. After Churchill's presentation , they wanted to demand that Norway and Sweden grant them free passage for support with troops and equipment. The route via Narvik was preferred, from there by train via Kiruna, Gällivare to the Baltic port of Luleå and from there eastwards to Finland. The peace agreement between Finland and the Soviet Union on March 13, 1940 made these projects superfluous and the planning for them was discontinued.

Visit of the Norwegian politician Quisling in Berlin

In December 1939 the former Norwegian Minister of War (State Councilor) Quisling visited Berlin. Quisling was the party leader of the Nasjonal Samling , a small and insignificant National Socialist party to which the Foreign Policy Office of the NSDAP , headed by Reich Leader Alfred Rosenberg , had established contact before the war. On December 12, 1939, after having been instructed by Raeder at a meeting, Quisling was received by Hitler for a meeting. Quisling informed Hitler on the one hand that he believed that the Norwegian government would eagerly approve of British landings and the establishment of bases, on the other hand he gave Hitler the false impression that the Norwegian people would "not be benevolent to a German invasion as protection against Anglo-French occupation." “Watch. Then Hitler gave the Wehrmacht High Command , OKW, the green light to plan a possible attack on Norway.

Altmark incident

The question of Norwegian neutrality, the considerations about the intentions of Great Britain and France and the German preventive considerations were given particular importance by the so-called Altmark incident in mid-February . The Altmark was armed with only two anti-aircraft machine guns replenishment oiler of the Navy, which the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee had to supply the North and South Atlantic. The Altmark had 303 British seamen on board, who came from the ships that the Admiral Graf Spee had brought up. Under the leadership of Captain Dau, the Altmark had managed to break the British naval blockade, and on February 14, 1940, it reached Norwegian territorial waters north of Trondheim. The Altmark was undoubtedly an auxiliary ship of the German Navy, but carried the Reich flag and was not considered a warship from the German point of view, which was judged very differently by the British. On February 14, the Altmark was stopped twice by two different Norwegian torpedo boats and superficially checked. There were no complaints as the British prisoners of war were not discovered. The chief of the Second Norwegian Sea Defense Section, Rear Admiral Tank-Nielsen , who knew about the British internees on board the Altmark , was not satisfied with this. He intervened personally, took the Garm torpedo boat to Altmark himself and asked for a new examination. Captain Dau refused; his attempt to reach the German embassy in Oslo by radio was prevented by the Norwegians. After all, the Norwegian admiral allowed the journey to continue under the escort of Norwegian torpedo boats. The British were probably able to locate the Altmark due to the lively radio traffic . At around 2:50 p.m., the German ship was discovered by three English aircraft within Norwegian territorial waters. At around 4 p.m. three British destroyers came into view near Egersund . To avoid the capture, Captain Dau withdrew with his ship into the partly icy Jøssingfjord . In the meantime, the Norwegian torpedo boats had been instructed to lay alongside the Altmark to prevent the British from boarding the ship. The order was revoked, however, and the Norwegians confined themselves to protesting against the British. Half an hour before midnight, the British destroyer Cossack ran into the fjord, laid down alongside the Altmark and had it boarded by a raiding party. Seven German seamen were killed in the following shooting. The Cossack took over the British prisoners of war and returned with them to England.

Appointment of the special staff Group XXI

Before any further news of the British intentions to obtain naval and air bases in Norway arrived, Hitler ordered the commanding general of the XXI on February 20, 1940 . Army Corps , General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst , in the Reich Chancellery. After Hitler had briefed von Falkenhorst on the intended Norwegian enterprise on February 21, he gave him the task of preparing the enterprise. In the event that the operation was carried out, the general should take command. Group XXI was then formed and reported directly to the OKW . The bypassing of the General Staff of the OKH in planning and implementation was a special case and conflicted with the usual chain of command. The successful outcome of the company inspired Hitler and the OKW in a fateful way to similarly unorthodox operations under OKW leadership in the further course of the war.

Operational idea

In view of the overwhelming superiority of the Royal Navy , absolute secrecy of all preparatory measures was a prerequisite for the success of Operation Weser Exercise. In order to be able to deceive the opposing intelligence services, the warship crews intended to carry out the enterprise, the units of the army, the air force and the crews of the merchant ships needed for supply had to be left in the dark about the true intentions of the German leadership. The secrecy went so far that the Commander in Chief of the Air Force , Hermann Göring , was not informed. The basic idea aimed to give the enterprise the character of a peaceful occupation, under the pretext of giving the neutrality of the two countries armed protection. Appropriate requests should be communicated to the governments of Denmark and Norway through diplomatic channels at the beginning of the occupation. In the later implementation, the peaceful occupation turned out to be a factor of uncertainty, since the German armed forces had to let the enemy take the first shot in order to be able to recognize his attitude as hostile in case of doubt.

The core of the operational idea consisted of the requirement that raid-like landings with airplanes, warships and other sea vehicles by one combat group each at seven landing sites in Denmark and Norway on a certain day (the Weser day ) under cover of the night at a certain time ( the Weser time ) to strike at the same time. In Denmark, army combat groups should be landed at Middelfart , Nyborg , Korsør , Copenhagen and Gedser by sea . At the same time an infantry division and a motorized rifle regiment reinforced by tanks were to cross the border into Denmark on a broad front. According to the unanimous assessment of the staff officers of the three armed forces, the occupation of Denmark (camouflage name Weser Exercise South ) was a prerequisite for the successful occupation of Norway (camouflage name Weser Exercise North ) mainly for reasons of supply .

The landing sites for the occupation of Norway in Narvik, Trondheim, Bergen , Kristiansand , Egersund, Arendal and Oslo were to be approached by warship groups. Stavanger was to be taken from the air and secured by army troops that were followed by merchant ships. The order of the army troops was to take possession of the cities and to defend them for the time being against foreseeable British counter-attacks. Since the Norwegians had a militia army , the next goal was to take possession of the nearby training camps (exercise areas) of the Norwegian army , because these facilities were also mobilization centers.

Implementation of the company

Notes from the German government to Denmark and Norway

In identical notes to the Danish and Norwegian governments on April 9, the German government declared that their military action was intended solely to forestall an attack by the Western powers on the two countries. She could "under no circumstances tolerate Scandinavia being turned into a theater of war against Germany by the Western powers". The German troops came "not in a hostile attitude". The two governments were asked not to oppose the German measures. Denmark bowed to German demands under protest and was able to ensure that the government remained in office until the German occupation authorities declared a state of emergency on August 29, 1943, and that the Danish state structures were essentially preserved. King Christian X stayed in the country.

Occupation of Denmark

German Panzerkampfwagen I in Aabenraa , Denmark, April 9, 1940

Colonel Hans Oster from the Foreign Office / Defense of the OKW (High Command of the Wehrmacht) revealed the operation to the Dutch military attaché , Major Bert Sas , on April 4, 1940 , who immediately passed his knowledge to the Danish naval attaché, frigate captain Frits A. Kjølsen, and to the Norwegian and forwarded to British diplomats. The Danish Army Intelligence Service was also informed about German troop concentrations through its agents in northern Germany and passed this information on to the government. However, this news was not taken seriously by the governments of the states concerned. In Denmark, the element of surprise for the German troops had its full effect. At 4:15 a.m. on April 9, German troops crossed the border. The Danish army only offered resistance in places (in Copenhagen, in South Jutland, in the Storstrømsbroen area and on Zealand ). In Copenhagen, the Guard Training Battalion defended Amalienborg Palace against the landing troops that the German mineship Hanseatic City of Danzig had disembarked from Langelinie , the central ship quay , before the coastal batteries were even alerted.

German armored car in Viborg (Jutland)
PzKpfW I in Norway during the Weser exercise

Parts of the Roskilde garrison marched through Sjælland to Helsingør and took a commandeered ferry to Sweden, as their commander assumed that Sweden had also been attacked. The Tønder garrison (Tønder) put up improvised roadblocks on their retreat to the north. The Danish commander-in-chief, General Prior , pleaded for slow resistance, but could not prevail against the government and the king. On the orders of Christian X, the fight was stopped after about six hours. During the occupation of Denmark, 17 Danish and 20 German soldiers died. On the evening of April 9th, Denmark was completely occupied. On that day, the Wehrmacht was able to use the Danish railway network and the airfields in Jutland to supply and support the German troops in Norway. The 'Operation Weser Exercise South' was thus successfully completed on April 10th.

From the day of the occupation until November 5, 1942, Denmark had a special position among the countries occupied by Germany (on this day Werner Best became representative of the Reich in Denmark).

The Danish government was determined to regulate the situation in the country itself. The Nazi regime left the king, government, parliament, administration and even the Danish army and navy untouched and intact. North Schleswig , which was separated from Germany after the First World War due to a referendum in 1920 , also remained Danish and was not annexed. On March 23, 1943, the regular elections to the Folketing took place, in which the Social Democrats were by far the strongest party. The Danish National Socialist Workers' Party received only 2.1% of the vote.

The rescue of the Danish Jews in October 1943 is unforgettable in Denmark .

Invasion of Norway

The German destroyers Diether von Roeder and Wolfgang Zenker in the port of Narvik
The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper during the occupation of Norway, probably when the troops landed in Trondheim
The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper during the occupation of Norway, probably when the troops landed in Trondheim

For the invasion of Norway, the naval war command put together five warship groups:

The Warship Group 1 destined for Narvik consisted of ten destroyers. On April 6, 1940, they bunkered at Columbuskaje . At dusk, there were 200 mountain troops of the Austrian 139 Mountain Infantry Regiment for every destroyer. They had motorcycle teams , large quantities of reserve provisions and their own ammunition. Colonel Alois Windisch and the staff of the 3rd Mountain Division under Major General Eduard Dietl were also embarked . At 11:30 p.m. the new Z 13 Erich Koellner cast off as the eighth destroyer. Captain Heye reports on his march and deployment .

The Warship Group 2 destined for Trondheim was composed of the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper and four destroyers. Warship groups 1 and 2 started sailing northwards from the German Bight on April 7, 1940 at 3:00 am under the protection of the battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst . It was the largest naval unit that the Navy could ever assemble for an offensive operation during the Second World War.

At 2:30 p.m. the formation was unsuccessfully attacked by twelve Wellington bombers . On April 7, 1940, Group XXI received a report that the fleet association of the Narvik-Trondheim groups had been captured by a British reconnaissance aircraft and that its course had been correctly specified. On the night of April 7th and 8th, the combat groups broke through the narrowness between the Shetland Islands and the mountains to the north. That night the wind from the southwest picked up considerably and reached wind force 9. Since the destroyers could not maintain the speed of 26 knots with the increasing swell, the connection to nine destroyers was broken during the night. Ten soldiers went overboard and perished.


Warship Group 1 reached Narvik on schedule during the Weser period. The coastal armored ships Eidsvold and Norge , whose commanders wanted to offer resistance, were torpedoed and sunk by the destroyers Z 21 Wilhelm Heidkamp and Z 11 Bernd von Arnim in front of and in the port basin of Narvik . The site commander of Narvik, Colonel Sundlo, surrendered the city without resistance. For the leader of the destroyers , Commodore Bonte , the problem of the return march arose because of the two planned tankers only the Jan Wellem had reached Narvik. The tanker's cargo was sufficient, but the oil takeover turned out to be so time-consuming that it was not possible to adhere to the departure time on the evening of April 9, 1940, as stipulated in the operational order. On the morning of April 10, a British destroyer flotilla advanced to the port of Narvik and sank two of the German destroyers, the guide boat Z 21 Wilhelm Heidkamp and Z 22 Anton Schmitt . Commodore Bonte was killed in the process. During their retreat, the British ships encountered renewed resistance in the form of a destroyer flotilla led by Frigate Captain Bey and lost their lead ship, the flotilla leader HMS Hardy and the destroyer HMS Hunter .

The battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau took over the remote security of the invasion of Narvik at sea and met the British battle cruiser HMS Renown here . The Gneisenau received a direct hit in the artillery control center on the foremars platform. The German ships broke off the battle and returned to Wilhelmshaven a few days later.

On April 13, 1940, there was another battle with a British naval formation under the leadership of Vice-Admiral Whitworth off Narvik, when the British battleship Warspite with the destroyers Icarus , Hero , Foxhound , Kimberley , Forester , Bedouin , Punjabi , Eskimo and Cossack advanced to the berths of the German ships. In the course of the battle Warspite , Bedouin and Eskimo Z 13 sank Erich Koellner , while Cossack and Foxhound Z 12 sank Erich Giese . The Hero torpedoed Z 18 Hans Lüdemann . The other German destroyers were either grounded or sunk themselves by their crews after their fuel and ammunition stocks were exhausted. The shipwrecked Erich Giese , who were in the water, were shot at. Some of the British destroyers were also seriously damaged in some cases, but none were sunk. The Punjabi received artillery hits and the Eskimo lost her foredeck after a torpedo hit by Z 2 Georg Thiele . The Cossack was badly damaged by artillery hits from Z 17 Dieter von Roeder and being hit by a wreck .

The Warspite's board aircraft , a Fairey Swordfish floatplane, sank the German submarine U 64 . An attack by U 25 against the British unit on April 13, 1940 and another attack by U 25 and U 48 in Vestfjord against the battleship Warspite on April 14, 1940 failed due to torpedo failures.

On April 14, 1940, the heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk sank the German supply tanker Skagerrak (6044  GRT ) northwest of Bodø .


On the march north, the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper sank the British destroyer Glowworm on the morning of April 8 . This had seriously damaged the Admiral Hipper at the bow by ramming it .

Warship Group 2 under Captain Hellmuth Heye entered the fjord leading to the port of Trondheim as planned. The commander of the 138 Mountain Infantry Regiment, Colonel Weiss, managed to occupy Trondheim with around 100 mountain troops. There were hardly any Norwegian troops in Trondheim itself.

Bergen and Stavanger

Warship Group 3 had the order to bring around 1900 men army troops and naval artillery units to Bergen. The commander of the combat group, Rear Admiral Schmundt , reached the entrance to Bergen unmolested under cover of thick fog. When the Norwegian outside fires were extinguished on April 9, 1940 at midnight, it was clear to Schmundt that the element of surprise was lost. At 5:15 am Weser time, the unit steered into the Byfjord and came within the range of the coastal batteries at Kvarven . The artillery training ship Bremse and the light cruiser Königsberg received hits, and on the speedboat companion ship Carl Peters , some army soldiers were killed and wounded by splinters when hit in the mast. Bergen itself could be occupied without a fight; soon afterwards the coastal batteries were also taken by German troops.

In Stavanger, the Norwegian torpedo boat Æger , which had previously sunk the German supply freighter Roda (6780 GRT), was so badly damaged by an attack by Ju 87 dive bombers of III./KG4 that it had to be abandoned.

The 8th and 9th squadrons of Kampfgeschwader 4 were able to bring two battalions of the 193 infantry regiment, a company of paratroopers, anti-aircraft and supply equipment to Stavanger by air and set them down there.

Kristiansand, Egersund, Arendal

Four boats of the 2nd minesweeping flotilla with a cycling company on board conquered Egersund as planned in order to take the cable station there, where they did not encounter any resistance. Because of thick fog, Warship Group 4 could not call at the port of Kristiansand. When it cleared up at 6:00 a.m., 45 minutes after Weser time, the association tried to run into the fjord entrance. Three attempted attacks failed due to defensive fire from the coastal fortifications on the Odderøy rock and the Gleodden coastal battery. The German freighter Seattle , which happened to be lying in front of Kristiansand, got caught in the crossfire of attackers and defenders, was set on fire and later sank. It was not until around 11:00 a.m. that the smaller units under fire protection from the light cruiser Karlsruhe managed to break into the port. The town and coastal batteries were captured by the German troops. The two Norwegian torpedo boats Gyller and Odin of the Sleipner class lying in the harbor and a number of other ships fell into German hands undamaged. Two Norwegian submarines, B 2 and B 3 , lying in the harbor were rendered inoperable by removing the thrust bearings. The torpedo boat Greif ran into Arendal and put the bicycle company 234 ashore. Without meeting any resistance, Arendal was captured and secured. On the march back the received Karlsruhe in the evening of April 9 by the British submarine HMS Truant hit by a torpedo, which it so badly damaged that they after slobber narrowing of the crew near the Kristiansand barrier island Oksøy by two torpedoes the grip had to be sunk .


Oslofjord with
Oscarsborg Fortress

The landing operation in Oslo was of central importance for the success of the overall operation in terms of a so-called peaceful occupation. The fulfillment of the German demands by negotiation presupposed that the Norwegian king and his government came into German custody through quick action. The occupation of Oslo by the 163rd Infantry Division (Commander: Major General Engelbrecht) was therefore not only planned from the sea, but at the same time - if the weather conditions permitted - by air. After the capture of the Oslo-Fornebu airport by the 1st / Parachute Regiment 1, two battalions of the 324 infantry regiment and a pioneer company were to land there with the 1st air transport squadron in order to gain a starting position for the occupation of Oslo.

Warship Group 5 had been put together for reasons of prestige. The heavy units were unsuitable for the breakthrough through the 100-kilometer-long Oslofjord because there are few alternatives in the narrow fairway. The task force was hit by searchlights on April 9, 1940 at around midnight while passing the coastal fortifications on Bolærne and Rauøy. A short time later, the Norwegians extinguished the beacons on and in the fjord. The combat group leader could no longer count on the element of surprise. It is therefore unclear why Rear Admiral Kummetz tried to cross the Drøbak Narrows with his flagship , the heavy cruiser Blücher . The Blücher received two 28 cm hits from Oscarsborg fortress . At the same time, the 15 cm battery north of Drøbak opened fire and scored at least 13 hits. Two torpedoes that were shot down from an excellently camouflaged torpedo battery on the island of North Kaholmen sealed the fate of the ship. At 7:23 a.m., the Blücher sank east of the island of Askholmen. The wreck is still there today at a depth of 90 m. The 28 cm guns for the Oscarsborg Fortress were supplied by Krupp from Germany in 1893 and the 40-year-old torpedoes came from Austria-Hungary by Whitehead & Co. in Fiume (today Rijeka , Croatia). The Blücher came practically straight from her test drive, her first combat mission was also her last. Despite the loss of the flagship, Oslo was eventually captured by airborne troops later than planned by the Germans.

The Norwegian mine-layer Olav Tryggvason sank the German clearing boat R 17 near Horten . The mine-layer, the coastal armored ships Harald Haarfagre and Tordenskjöld as well as the torpedo boats Balder and Gyller were captured by German occupation troops and put back into service as mine- layers Brummer or, after conversion, as anti-aircraft ships Thetis and Nymphe and as torpedo boats Leopold and Löwe . The two new minesweepers Otra and Rauma were also captured and put into service as miners for Togo and Cameroon .

German tanks ( new construction vehicle ) in the port of Oslo immediately after unloading the transport ships.

The landing of troops at Oslo airfield did not go as planned either. The 1st air transport squadron with 29 Ju 52 aircraft encountered thick fog near Oslo. The group commander then gave the order to turn away because his pilots were not trained to fly blind . Two planes did not receive the order and landed on the airfield. The 18 paratroopers and 50 infantrymen occupied the airport. The X. Fliegerkorps canceled the order to turn back when a German ship reported that German planes were landing and taking off on Fornebu. During the afternoon units of the X Air Corps attacked Bolærne, Rauøy, Horten and Drøbak. At 6:30 p.m. the Norwegian positions were defeated and could be occupied. On the morning of April 10th, the ships of the combat group entered the port of Oslo. All in all, the Weser exercise with the stabilization of the situation in Oslo on April 10th, as far as planned, was successful, although the Norwegians continued to resist with Allied support. The delays in the occupation of the capital allowed the royal family and the country's gold reserves to escape. Only on June 10, 1940 did the Norwegian Lieutenant Colonel i. G. Roscher-Nielsen for the Norwegian High Command in Trondheim the document of surrender. As Reich Commissioner for occupied Norway was Josef Terboven appointed.

Use of the submarines

Of the 300 submarines that Karl Dönitz had defined as necessary before the war began in order to be able to wage an efficient trade war, only 48 were available in the spring of 1940. That now as part of the operation weserübung was applied to German submarines to patrol to protect the surface units in the North Sea, especially in coastal areas and, if possible, the battle with the expected British naval offensive to look represented a paradigm shift in the tactical use of submarines . Until now, submarines had operated independently of one another in distant sea areas, with their commanders being given a very wide range of discretion in the hunt for merchant ships. Now the boats were to act in a centrally coordinated form, perform security tasks and even seek combat with warships, which otherwise, with the exception of such spectacular actions with propaganda value , such as Lieutenant Prien's attack on Scapa Flow, was only the last resort for a submarine . On Raeder's instructions, the submarine commander positioned 32 boats in Scandinavian waters, some of them within the Norwegian fjords , which are very unfavorable for them . Here the submarines were particularly endangered not only because of the partly shallow water, but also because of the need to recharge their batteries at night when crossing the water, as a result of the polar nights, which at that time only lasted three to four hours . In the course of the Weser Exercise operation , several submarine commanders reported a strange failure in attacks with an actually safe starting position. Viktor Schütze , commander of U 25 , shot two torpedoes at close range at the British destroyer force returning from Narvik, but scored no hits. The four torpedoes from U 51 aimed at the same target did nothing either. In the next few hours, the complaints of the submarine commanders, who reported misfires or premature ignition, increased and finally added up to an error rate of 66% (→ torpedo crisis ). As the head of the torpedo experimental institute, Oskar Kummetz , commanded the invasion troops in Oslo as part of the Weser exercise and was therefore not available to Dönitz, some experts were asked as an alternative, but this remained inconclusive. The instruction that has now been given to fire a torpedo with an impact fuse in addition to the magneto torpedoes rated as vulnerable led only to a rapid decrease in the available ammunition, but to no success. The use of the German submarines in the Weser Exercise company took place at great risk, but was unsuccessful and is therefore rated as a failure.


The German crew losses during the "Weser exercise" amounted to 1,317 dead, 1,604 wounded and 2,375 missing (mostly on the high seas). The ship losses were very high. In addition to the heavy cruiser Blücher , the two light cruisers Karlsruhe and Königsberg as well as ten destroyers, a torpedo boat and four submarines were lost. According to the naval historian Michael Salewski , the German fleet lost almost half of its surface forces. The Luftwaffe lost 242 machines.

On the Allied side, 1,896 British, 1,335 Norwegians and 530 French and Poles were killed in the fighting on land. The Royal Navy lost the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious , the two cruisers HMS Curlew and HMS Effingham as well as nine destroyers and six submarines with a total of over 2,500 dead.


Oslo 1941: German propaganda by the occupation troops at the Norwegian parliament building with "V" -sign and the banner "Germany wins on all fronts".
Nuremberg Trial, September 30, 1946

In the Weser Exercise Company, the largest Triphibian operation in the history of the war, the German Reich attacked two neutral states, contrary to its own promises and contractual agreements. The planning and implementation of this unprovoked war of aggression were indicted in the Nuremberg trial against the main war criminals and the follow-up trials, and those mainly responsible were convicted.

The attack and the crimes of the occupation have put a heavy burden on the relationship between Germany and the Scandinavian states for decades.

From an operational point of view, the company was a serious setback for the Navy because of the high losses. The expanded geostrategic starting point could hardly be exploited by the naval war command. Nevertheless, Operation Weser Exercise was certainly a prerequisite for the continuation of the German warfare. The export of Swedish iron ores and steel refining metals from the Scandinavian region to Germany was secured for the entire duration of the war. According to British estimates, the German Reich would not have been able to hold out the war for more than twelve months without the Scandinavian ores required for the war economy.

Through the occupation of Denmark and Norway, the Baltic Sea remained under German control. Finally, the Weser Exercise company prevented another front in Scandinavia, which France in particular had called for relief. In terms of propaganda and domestic politics, the military operation was also a success and reinforced the political myth of the “invincible Wehrmacht” at home.

After the war against the Soviet Union began in 1941 and the United States delivered weapons and other supplies to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk (see also Lending and Lease Act ), the Wehrmacht was able to use the ports and air bases in Northern Norway to attack these convoys and the bomb Russian ports.

On the Allied side, Chamberlain in particular was accused of having been outmaneuvered several times. In the course of the Norwegian debate , he lost the support of his own party, resigned and was replaced as Prime Minister by Churchill.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Andreas Hillgruber : Hitler's Strategy, Politics and Warfare 1940-1041 . 3rd edition, Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1993, p. 55.
  2. Michael Salewski : Germany and the Second World War . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn a. a. 2005, p. 112.
  3. ^ Earl F. Ziemke: The German Decision To Invade Norway and Denmark. United States Army Center of Military History , October 1958, accessed May 27, 2014 .
  4. ^ Gerhard Schreiber : The Second World War. 5th edition, Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2002, p. 30.
  5. Michael Salewski: Germany and the Second World War . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn a. a. 2005, p. 114.
  6. Geirr H. Haarr: The Altmark incident . In Geirr H. Haarr: The Gathering Storm - The Naval War In Europe September 1939 - April 1940. The naval was in Northern Europe September 1939 - April 1949. Seaforth Publishing, Barnsleigh United Kingdom 2013, ISBN 978-1-84832-140- 3 , p. 351.
  7. Michael Salewski: Germany and the Second World War. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn a. a. 2005, ISBN 3-506-71390-6 , pp. 110ff.
  8. Walter Warlimont, In the headquarters of the German Wehrmacht 1939-1945 , Weltbild: Augsburg 1990. Part 1, Chapter 3 Denmark and Norway - a special case.
  9. Cf. Antony Beevor: The Second World War. Munich 2014, p. 93.
  10. Irmtrud Wojak: Fritz Bauer 1903–1968: A biography . P. 149 .
  11. a b August Wilhelm Heye: Z 13 from Kiel to Narvik . ES Mittler & Sohn , Berlin 1941.
  12. Clay Blair : The Submarine War. Volume one: Die Jäger 1939 - 1942. Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-453-12345-X , pp. 193-200.
  13. Michael Salewski: Germany and the Second World War. Schöningh, Paderborn u. a. 2005, ISBN 3-506-71390-6 . P. 118.
  14. a b dhm
  15. ^ Judgment - The joint plan for the conspiracy and the war of aggression , Nuremberg Trial, zeno.org, accessed on November 15, 2015.
  16. ^ Gerhard Werle, Florian Jessberger: Völkerstrafrecht , Mohr Siebeck 2007, ISBN 978-3-16-149372-0 , pp. 525 ff.


  • Thomas K. Derry: The Campaign in Norway. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London 1952.
  • Walther Hubatsch : Weser exercise. The German occupation of Denmark and Norway in 1940 (= studies and documents on the history of the Second World War. 7, ZDB -ID 525389-5 ). According to official documents. 2nd completely revised edition. Musterschmidt, Göttingen 1960. First version under the title The German occupation of Denmark and Norway 1940. Göttingen 1952.
  • Hans-Martin Ottmer: "Weser Exercise" - The German attack on Denmark and Norway in April 1940 (= operations of the Second World War. Vol. 1). Oldenbourg, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-486-56092-1 .


  • Jens Becker, Ralf Daubitz (director): War in the Arctic. Two-part documentary film Germany ( MDR ), 2007, 52 min. (The first part shows the planning and implementation of the attack with partly unknown archive and private film recordings and allows contemporary witnesses to report. Part 2 (Scorched Earth) shows everyday life on the Arctic front and the further fate of Finnish and Norwegian women who loved German soldiers.)
  • Battle for Norway - Campaign 1940 - German propaganda film 1940, directed by Martin Rikli
  • April 9th ​​- Attack on Denmark - Danish war film / drama 2015, directed by Roni Ezra
  • The King's Choice - Attack on Norway - Norwegian War Film / Historical Epic - Shows the Norwegian side during the attack. Director: Erik Poppe

Web links

Commons : Norway campaign  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files