The collaborator whose name became a synonym for traitors


by Logan Nye at

In the U.S., we all know what someone means when they call someone a “Benedict Arnold,” the traitor of the American Revolution. But in most of the world, a little more recent name is used for traitor and collaborator, especially in Europe. That name is Quisling.

Vidkun Quisling joined the Norwegian army as an officer in 1911. First funny aside: As a young officer, he created his own “new world religion” that combined physics and Christianity. The religion called for a “world unity” achieved through collective consciousness.

He eventually served as a minister of defense from 1931 to 1933 as a member of the Farmers’ Party. But Quisling, like many at the time, got swept up in nationalist fervor. And he really got swept up in it. Like, it’s a bit surprising that he didn’t get a Scuttler haircut.

Quisling left the Farmers’ Party and started his own organization in 1933, the Nasjonal Samling or “National Gathering.” If you’re starting to get nervous, what with “1930s,” “nationalist,” and “new political party,” give yourself a pat on the back and a stiff drink.

Because, yes, of course Quisling was into the Nazis. He even gave himself the title of “Fører” of the party.

For the average Norwegian at the time, that would likely be forgivable. But Quisling did lose some popularity and his Nasjonal Samling lost completely in 1933 and 1936, earning no seats in the Norwegian Storting. But then Quisling had a brilliant idea. If his friend Hitler just took over the country, he wouldn’t need no stinking election.

Oh, yeah, “Spoiler Alert.” But you already knew this was an article about a traitor who was into Nazis. You knew where this was headed. In 1939, as the rest of the Norwegian political class was considering what issues to run on in 1940, Quisling had a meeting with Hitler and encouraged him to invade Norway.

Hitler did just that in April 1940. Second sort of funny aside, though. Quisling declared a new government as soon as it was clear the Nazis would win. But the Nazis, most of whom thought he was a bit dense and useless, waited less than a week to replace him with their own government.

Quisling did get selected as “minister president” in 1942. He was seemingly still dedicated to Nordic racial superiority and attempted to re-organize schools and civic society around far-right nationalism.


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