This year, on the 17th of May, Norway celebrated 200 years of the Norwegian Constitution. So why did Norway need a new Constitution? Well, as it happened, Norway had previous to 1814 been annexed by Denmark. As part of the settlement to Sweden at the end of the Napoleonic wars, Denmark-Norway being allies with Napoleon and on the losing side, Norway was given away to Sweden.
Did the Norwegians take this swap of ruler lying down? Of course not! Nationalistic feelings blossomed and on the 17th of May 1814, the Norwegian Constitution was created.
Where the Sweden happy about this? Not at all! And as Norway was a lesser military power than Sweden and with no support from other European countries Norway eventually had to concede defeat. Not however, until they had fought to created a better bargaining position for the country; the compromise was a union with Sweden that lasted until 1905 when Norway finally became fully independent.
Now, poor but free, as most of the rich people had been Danes and Swedes, a strong workers movement gained momentum in Norway laying the foundation for a fair and egalitarian society. But what was waiting around the corner, so to speak, only 35 years later? Nazi Invasion!
The Capital, Oslo, home of 10 year old Otti, was taken over by German troops in a matter of hours. Before lunch on the 9th of April 1940 she was in the car with her mother and sister, on her way to hide out with relatives in the country:
Excerpt from Otti’s Escape, ebook out on 18th July
A car was waiting at the gates. There was Ellen, too! The three of them squashed into the back seat with their bags. Then they were out on the road. Father was not coming. Mother watched him standing at the gate and started to cry again, now quietly, her breath slow and jerky. Neither was waving goodbye.
As they approached the Sinsen crossroads the car stopped for a minute, hesitant. From the ground came a soft rhythmical drone. Coming towards them, slowly ascending the long main road, the Trondheims Road from the city centre toward the north, was a long rolling, marching snake. Only a few 100 yards away were the military green of foreign tanks and soldiers!
The stranger in the front seat swore. He backed the car and turned it around. They would take the dirt-roads through the industrial plants, which would bring them out at Ulven. Then make a circle to the north before turning eastwards, avoiding all the main routes out of Oslo. He would get them out, Mrs Risen needn’t worry!