|Leader||Vidkun Quisling (executed for treason)|
|Founded||May 13, 1933|
|Dissolved||May 8, 1945(banned)|
|Headquarters||Formerly Oslo, Norway|
|Youth wing||Nasjonal Samlings Ungdomsfylking|
Norwegian romantic nationalism,
Nasjonal Samling (Norwegian pronunciation: [nɑʃuˈnɑːl ˈsɑmlɪŋ], National Unity, National Unification), abbreviated NS, was a fascist party in Norway active from 1933 to 1945. Founded by former minister of defense Vidkun Quisling and a group of supporters such as Johan Bernhard Hjort – who led the party's paramilitary wing (the Hird) for a short time before leaving the party in 1937 after various internal conflicts. The party claimed to have been founded on May 17, Norway's national holiday, but was in fact founded on May 13, 1933.
The party was never a factor in the national and local elections before the war, but it made its mark on Norwegian politics nonetheless. Despite the fact that it never managed to get more than 2.5% of the vote and failed to elect even one candidate to the Storting, it became a factor by polarizing the political scene. All of the established parties in Norway viewed it as a Norwegian version of the Nazis, and generally refused to cooperate with it in any way. Several of its marches and rallies before the war were either banned, or, as in Germany, marred by violence as working-class activists (communists and socialists) clashed with the Hird.
A significant trait of the party throughout its existence was a relatively high level of internal conflict. Antisemitism, Anti-Masonry, and differing views on religion, as well as the party's association with the Nazis and Germany were hotly debated, and factioned the party. When World War II broke out, the party had been reduced to a political sect with hardly any real activity.
Strong belief in Norse Paganism, romantic nationalism, authoritarianism, and corporatism dominated NS ideology. It also relied heavily on Nordic symbolism, utilizing Vikings, pre-Christian religion and runes in its propaganda and speeches. It asserted that its symbol (shown at the head of this article), a golden sun cross on a red background, had been the symbol of Olav, painted on his shield.
During the German occupation
When Germany invaded Norway in 1940, Quisling stormed into the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation studios in Oslo and made a broadcast proclaiming himself Prime Minister and ordering all anti-German resistance to end immediately. However, King Haakon VII, in unoccupied territory along with the legitimate government, let it be known he would abdicate rather than appoint any government headed by Quisling. The government refused to step down in Quisling's favour or serve under him. It confirmed that resistance was to be continued. With no popular support, the German occupants quickly thrust Quisling aside.
After a brief period with a civilian caretaker government (Administrasjonsrådet) appointed by the Supreme Court, the Germans took control through Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. He appointed a government responsible to himself, with most ministers from the ranks of Nasjonal Samling. However, the party leader, Quisling, was controversial in Norway as well as among the occupiers, and was denied a formal position until 1 February 1942, when he became “minister president” of the “National government”. Other important ministers were Jonas Lie (also head of the Norwegian wing of the SS from 1941) as minister of police, Dr. Gulbrand Lunde as minister of "popular enlightenment and propaganda", as well as the opera singer Albert Viljam Hagelin, who was Minister of Domestic Affairs. The NS administration had a certain amount of autonomy in purely civilian matters, but was in reality controlled by the Reichskommissar as “head of state”, subordinate only to Adolf Hitler.
The post-war authorities banned the party and prosecuted its members as collaborators. Nearly 50,000 were brought to trial, approximately half of whom received jail penalties. The authorities executed Quisling for treason as well as a few other high-profile NS members, and prominent German officials in Norway, for war crimes. The sentences' legality has been questioned, however, as Norway did not have peacetime capital punishment, and the Norwegian constitution at the time stipulated that capital punishment for war crimes had to be carried out during actual wartime.
Another issue of post-war treatment has been the ongoing Hamsun debate in Norway. The internationally renowned author Knut Hamsun, though never a member, was a well-known sympathiser. After the war Hamsun was, however, deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, and many feel that the issue of his links to the party has never been properly resolved. Hamsun's status as a Nobel Prize laureate and probably the best-known Norwegian author next to Henrik Ibsen, also results in his ties to NS being a touchy subject, as many feel the valuation of Hamsun's literature should not be marred by constant debate about whether or not he was a fascist.
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