Feast Day of Boethius 2007: Five young men

1945: Vidkun Quisling, who made his name as a traitor

October 24th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1945, eponymous Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling was shot at Oslo’s Akershus Fortress for high treason.

By the time of his death, the Nazi collaborator (English Wikipedia page | Norwegian) had already given his surname to English and other languages as a synonym for traitor.

Just deserts for his efforts as chief of the fascist party Nasjonal Samling to aid the Nazi conquest of his home country. Quisling interrupted a radio broadcast on April 9, 1940 to proclaim himself Prime Minister* and order cooperation with invading Germans.

Although Quisling’s lack of popular support compromised his value even as a puppet, he remained as Minister President of Norway through the war — a crucial tool in Germany’s counter-encirclement jousting with Britain, nicely explained at the outset of Frank Capra’s American propaganda flick Why We Fight:

He enjoyed public regard commensurate with his station.


A 1944 cartoon in Sweden (which remained tenuously neutral and unoccupied during the war) indicates that Quisling had already made his name a byword for treachery. The caption reads:
“I am Quisling.”
“And the name?”

Norway had abolished capital punishment in 1905, but its government-in-exile reinstated it expressly for dealing with high-level collaborators.

Though Quisling himself may have deserved this and worse, the justice and legality of so doing has been controversial ever since.


The site of Quisling’s execution. Some other shots from his trial are in this 60-year Norwegian-language retrospective.

* Thought to be the first on-air putsch in history.

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Heads of State,History,Infamous,Language,Norway,Politicians,Popular Culture,Shot,Treason

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