Official Peace Torch '96 Bearer

«We owe it to our past not to lose hope. Say what you may, despair is not the solution.»
Elie Wiesel

For this was the fight against something bigger and more threatening than ever before;
against something which was able to rock the very core of our universe.


By Michael Holmboe Meyer

Any war deal with the emotional experiences of the people involved. «Operation Freshman» is not only a document about the military strategy of the War, nor about the political issues.

This is also a story of a very, very small country rallying to its own defence when it was suddenly attacked on April 9, 1940. A massive invasion began of this very poorly defended land. The enemy was one of the greatest superpower of the earth.

The battle to prevent heavy water production is probably the most dramatic chapter in modern Norwegian history. This was a fight against something bigger, powerful and more threatening than ever before. This was a fight against something which was able to rock the very core of our universe. The Norwegians took up arms in defence of their liberty. Inward happiness does not fall from heaven. It must be earned at a price which may often seem heavy. For the point is this, that he who has won a home in many foreign lands feels in his heart of hearts nowhere truly at home - scarcely even in the country of his birth.

The atom bomb in the hands of the invaders could have turned the war, and history could have taken a completely different path. The despot could have become the master of the world. The entire configuration of events was stunning beyond belief. This new weapon was not completed before the intruders were defeated. Some few men who risked their lives to carry out sabotage missions which was more daring and audacious than anything undertaken before.

Meanwhile, the planning and training for «Operation Freshman» took place in the utmost secrecy. It was an action directed against the vital element in the manufacture of the atom bomb; the heavy water production. The heavy water was being produced in the Norsk Hydro`s plant at Rjukan. A place within the Telemark area and among the highest mountains in Norway.

The Germans in Norway capitulated on May 8, 1945. King Haakon VII of Norway and the government could again take over a land which was partly burned. A land where the social machinery and the financial system was either ruined or in state of chaos.

The «Other Side of the Medal» was the cost of the lives of 10.000 Norwegians. Nine thousand Norwegians had been prisoners in German concentration camps. Many prisoners did not survive. Other came back damaged for life. Of the 760 Norwegian Jews who where sent to Germany, only 24 survived.

«Operation Freshman» will forever remain a dark and distasteful episode of the Second World War. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. 41 young lives were spent in an effort to reach Vemork. The two gliders containing Commandos never reached their planned destination. Both aircraft crashed in Rogaland. The way in which the Germans dealt with their prisoners and the injured soldiers broke all the conventions of war. This will forever remain a dark and distasteful episode in the history of WW2.

What were the mistakes? Where lay our failures? Where did we go wrong - and why? I do not know, nor do I pretend to know. Think of Napoleon`s mother sitting on presigious thrones all over Europe, said sadly: «Pourvu que cela dure,» it cannot last, not forever. That event was left far behind.

If the heavy water had come under Hitler`s control, the dictator would have possessed a weapon that could have ensured «control of the world».

The documentation is written in honour of those who sacrificed their lives in a fight which in the end ensured freedom in Europe.

July 12, 1996
Michael Holmboe Meyer



The Operation Freshman document
By Jostein Berglyd

Copyright ©.
Foreword by Michael Holmboe Meyer - Copyright © 1996 remains with the authors
Publishing rights on Internet is held by Michael Holmboe Meyer, editor of Stavanger History Guide, and
Henning Hansen, editor of RogBase.
No part of this presentation may be reproduced or used in any form without the express permission of the publishers in writing.


  • Stavanger History Guide (Gold Medal Winner at Internet 1996 World Exposition)

  • Joseph Rotblat and Pugwash 1995 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

  • Krigsminnesmerker i Hå (Presently in Norwegian only)

  • RogBase - The Internet gateway to Stavanger and the Rogaland region (By Henning Hansen)

  • The origin of the Pugwash Conferences (Russell-Einstein Manifesto)

  • Nobel Peace laureate Yitzhak Rabin`s blood cover the Song of Peace

    Last modified: January 12, 1997