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Vidkun Quisling

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonsson Quisling, (July 18, 1887 - October 24, 1945) was a Norwegian nationalist leader and patriot who was tried for treason and murdered in 1945.

Quisling had a mixed and relatively successful background, having achieved the rank of major in the Norwegian army, and worked with Fridtjof Nansen in the Soviet Union during the famine in the 1930s, as well as having served as defense minister in the agrarian government 1931-1933.

On May 17, 1933, the Norwegian national day, Quisling and state attorney Johan Bernhard Hjort[?] formed Nasjonal Samling (National Unity), the Norwegian national-socialist party. Nasjonal Samling had an anti-democratic, "leader"-oriented political structure, and Quisling was to be that leader, much like Adolf Hitler was for the NSDAP in Germany. The party went on to have modest successes, in the election of 1933, four months after the party was formed, it garnered 27850 votes, following support from the Norwegian Farmer's Aid Association, with which Quisling had connections from his time as a member of the agrarian government. However, as the party line changed from a religiously rooted one to a more pro-German and anti-Semitic hardline policy from 1935 onwards, the support from the Church waned, and in the 1936 elections, the party only got 26577 votes. This led to a personal conflict between Quisling and Hjort, who finally left the party, taking with him several prominent members. The party turned more extremist, taking on sect-like qualities in the worship of Quisling as the leader, and party membership dwindled to an estimated 2000 members in 1940.

When Germany invaded Norway on April 9, 1940, Quisling became the first person in history to announce a coup during a news broadcast, announcing an ad-hoc government during the confusion of the invasion, hoping that the Germans would support it. Quisling had visited Adolf Hitler in Germany the year before, and had actually presented the idea of a German invasion of Norway, so Quisling's belief that the Germans would back his government were not entirely unfounded. However, the Germans desired more direct control over occupied Norway, and the Quisling government lasted only five days, after which Josef Terboven was instated as Reichskommissar[?], the highest authority in Norway, answering directly to Hitler. The relationship between Quisling and Terboven was tense, although Terboven, presumably seeing an advantage in having a Norwegian in a position of power to reduce resentment in the population, named Quisling to the post of Minister President (Prime Minister) in 1942 and he assumed that position on February 1, 1943.

After the German surrender, Quisling, along with 90,000 other members of Nasjonal Samling, faced investigation and trial on charges of treason. Quisling, along with two other NS leaders, Albert Viljam Hagelin[?] and Ragnar Skancke[?], were convicted and executed by firing squad.

After World War II, the term quisling became a synonym in many languages for traitor (see Judas, and the USA understanding of Benedict Arnold).

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