Birger Stromsheim, Hero in an Anti-Nazi Raid, Dies at 101

Conspirator
User avatar
Posts: 5478
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:03 pm
Location: བདེ་འབྱུང

PostTue Dec 11, 2012 11:53 am » by Iamthatiam


There was no Google Earth, no Gore-Tex and only a modest measure of hope on the February night in 1943 when six Norwegians parachuted into the remote and frigid Telemark region of their home country for an outdoor challenge like few others.

Image

Birger Stromsheim

They had skis and explosives and a destination: the German-controlled Norsk Hydro facility, high on an isolated and snowy ridge. The Norwegians intended to destroy equipment inside that the Germans were using to produce what is known as heavy water, a crucial ingredient in making a nuclear weapon and one they feared the Nazis would use to build an atomic bomb. One of the demolitions experts on the team, Birger Stromsheim, died Nov. 10 in Oslo at 101.

It was not the first attempt to destroy the heavy water equipment. Just a few months earlier another group of four Norwegians became stranded in the area after British soldiers for whom they were doing advance work were captured, tortured and eventually killed. That first group hunkered down for the winter in an abandoned cabin, built a makeshift radio from a car battery and stolen fishing rods and began planning their own rescue and another assault on Norsk Hydro. They ate lichen that they scraped from rocks, killed an occasional reindeer for meat and vigilantly avoided detection by the occupying Germans.

The second effort would not fail. After parachuting to a plateau, the second group, some of whom grew up in the area, skied in subzero temperatures for several days before uniting with the four stranded soldiers. The combined group then made its way to the opposite side of a steep gorge from the Norsk Hydro facility. With the only bridge across guarded by Nazis, they descended to the bottom and climbed to the top on the other side.

Mr. Stromsheim was 31 at the time of the assault, the oldest member of the mission. He was particularly respected for his expertise in explosives and for his calm.

“We didn’t think about whether it was dangerous or not,” Joachim Ronneberg, the leader of the mission, recalled in an interview in The Telegraph of London in 2010. “We didn’t think about our retreat.”

A Norwegian caretaker, a civilian, was the only person in the room where the heavy water was produced and he quickly agreed to cooperate with the soldiers. Mr. Ronneberg said that setting the dynamite proved to be “easy,” but the men still worried that they would be detected at any moment. They lighted a 30-second fuse and ran.

“They didn’t reckon that they would get out alive,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son, also named Birger, recalled in an interview for this obituary. “They weren’t sure of that. They were scared in some ways, but there was no panic.”

Stormy conditions helped muffle the explosion inside the building, and the men made it safely back across the gorge before the Nazis realized what had happened. Nazis searched the area for days afterward, but no shots were fired and no one was hurt in the second mission. Many years later, experts determined that the Nazis were far from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Stromsheim, who grew up skiing, hiking and bicycling, was among several soldiers who made it to safety by skiing more than 200 miles to Sweden.

Birger Edvin Martin Stromsheim was born Oct. 11, 1911, in Alesund, Norway. His parents had a small farm. In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Liv Kristen Oygard; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Aase Liv, died in 1997.

After the Germans took control of Norway in 1940, Mr. Stromsheim and his wife were among many people who left for England. Mr. Stromsheim had not been a soldier in Norway, but he became part of the Special Operations Executive, which the British formed to support and coordinate resistance in the occupied countries of Europe.

After the assault on Norsk Hydro, Mr. Stromsheim joined Mr. Ronneberg on other missions.

He and other members of the mission at Norsk Hydro received medals from several Allied countries. In 1965, Hollywood produced “The Heroes of Telemark,” a film starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris that included shootouts, dramatic chases through the snow and love scenes. The soldiers roundly panned the movie as unrealistic.

“He saw that,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son said. “He didn’t like it. It was too glamorous.”





And here goes someone that made a big difference....

Go in peace, bro!

:cheers:
Image

"The Heaven's Lights are fed by the energy generated inside the furnaces of Hell; I AM One Conductive Wire! "

  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post
Visit Disclose.tv on Facebook