The Real Heroes Of Telemark

Discussion in 'Books, Films, TV, Radio' started by Meyer, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. Meyer

    Meyer Junior Member

    Just finished reading Ray Mears book of the Vemork raid on the Norsk Hydro plant in which Norwegian members of SOE's Linge company successfully disabled Hitlers atom bomb research by destroying the heavy water stocks.
    The book was brought to life for me due to an audience with the raids leader Joachim Ronneberg at the DLI Museum in Durham recently. Ronneberg is an exceptionally modest gentleman and a master of understatement, a great pleasure to have heard him speak about the raid and to have shook him by the hand!!!

    Recommend the book as it tells the raid as it was and not as Hollywood would have us think!!!!!
  2. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    (Meyer @ Nov 2 2005, 09:53 AM) [post=40970]Recommend the book as it tells the raid as it was and not as Hollywood would have us think!!!!!

    I thoroughly agree and the TV series was not bad either.
  3. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    (angie999 @ Nov 2 2005, 03:41 PM) [post=40992](Meyer @ Nov 2 2005, 09:53 AM) [post=40970]Recommend the book as it tells the raid as it was and not as Hollywood would have us think!!!!!

    I thoroughly agree and the TV series was not bad either.
    [/b]I agree Angie the book was a good read and the TV program wasn't bad either.
  4. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Never saw the TV prog
  5. No.9

    No.9 Senior Member

    If you want to read the definitive account from the Norwegian perspective, read "Skis Against the Atom" by Knut Haukelid [ISBN 0-942323-07-6] who was one of the operatives on the raid and subsequently remained in Norway and orchestrated the second raid to destroy the ferry.

    Budgie 55 likes this.
  6. mattgibbs

    mattgibbs Senior Member

    I heard there was a Norwegian book, now I know. I will look out on the bargain sites for it.
    Cheers No9!!
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Man who halted Nazi nuclear plan dies at 99

    [Video in link]

    Joachim Ronneberg, the Norwegian resistance fighter who sabotaged Nazi Germany's nuclear weapons ambitions during World War Two, has died aged 99.

    In 1943, he led a top-secret raid on a heavily-guarded plant in Norway's southern region of Telemark.

    The operation was immortalised in the 1965 Hollywood film Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas.

    Ronneberg later worked as a radio journalist and helped raised awareness of the dangers of war among the young.

    He told the BBC in 2013 that he only realised the importance of the mission after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

    "He is one of our great heroes," Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg told NTB news agency. "Ronneberg is probably the last of the best known resistance fighters to pass away."

    Who was the last hero of Telemark?
    Born in 1919 in the town of Aalesund, Joachim Ronneberg fled Norway after the Nazis invaded in 1940.

    The then 21-year-old escaped with eight friends by boat to Scotland, but was determined to return and fight.

    Germany at the time needed so-called heavy water - with an extra atomic particle in its hydrogen nucleus - in its race against the Allies to produce an atomic bomb.

    Large amounts of heavy water, or deuterium oxide, at that time was only made at the Norsk Hydro facility in Rjukan, Telemark.

    This made the largest hydroelectric plant of its type a target for the resistance. But a small team tasked with destroying it in 1942 failed.

    The following year, Ronneberg chose a team of five other commandos in an Allied operation codenamed Gunnerside.

    "We were a gang of friends doing a job together," he told the BBC during the 70th anniversary of the mission.

    The men parachuted on to a plateau, skied across country, descended into a ravine and crossed an icy river before using the railway line to get into the plant and set their explosives.

    "We very often thought that this was a one way trip," he said.

    Ronneberg remembered his friends and fellow fighters at a memorial of their operation in London in 2013

    After the explosion, the men escaped into neighbouring Sweden by skiing 320km (200 miles) across Telemark - despite being chased by some 3,000 German soldiers.

    With a wry smile, Ronneberg described it as "the best skiing weekend I ever had".

    The operation, coupled with US air raids the following year, led the Germans to abandon their plans and was later described as the most successful act of sabotage of World War Two.

    Ronneberg was reluctant to talk about his experience despite numerous books, documentaries and TV series retelling the story.

    He broke his silence in the 1970s, when he began raising awareness of the dangers of war among young people.

    "Those growing up today need to understand that we must always be ready to fight for peace and freedom," he said.


    BBC World Service - Witness, Sabotage of Nazi Nuclear Programme
    In October 1942 Norwegian commandos began a series of raids on a heavy water plant in German-occupied Norway. They had to destroy it in order to stop the Nazis from developing an atomic weapon. Joachim Ronneberg is the last surviving member of the Norwegian team.
    (Photo: The hydro-electric power station where the heavy water plant was situated. Credit: Hulton Archives/Getty Images)
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Not forgetting those of Operation Freshman who as POWs were murdered by the Germans under Hitler's Nacht und Nebel directive..... one of the tribunal charges that sealed Keitel's fate at Nuremberg as Hitler's enforcer and lacky.

    Telemarking ......the practice of high speed cross country skiing as illustrated in the escape to Sweden and now exercised by military personnel.

    There was a report recently that an operation was planned to raise the ferry on which the heavy water was being further news it would seem.

    [Endorsed dbf's post #7......does not appeared to have been registered.] functioned
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
  9. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    There is a comprehensive obituary of Joachim Ronneberg in the DT today.

    Last night's bedtime reading was a chapter on SOE in WW2,an oral history of Special Operations from Behind the Lines (Russell Miller) in which the Norwegian individuals concerned in the raid related their account.These accounts differs from the film. Kirk Douglas played a fictitious character which has been established before and further light reveals that certain events were scripted for the film.

    Ronneberg pays tribute to the excellent intelligence and modelling detail available of the plant that his team were provided with in preparing for the raid.The team had support from four Norwegians,the Swallow reconnaissance party who were originally dropped to prepare and assist in Operation Freshman. Bad weather and short of rations in a hut above the tree line,they had a difficult time and were saved at Christmas 1942 by shooting their first reindeer.With Joachim Ronneberg's party late,at one point, the Swallow members had to resort to eating eating reindeer moss to survive.

    In 2010,the film of Operation Gunnerside was best summed up by Joachim Ronneberg. When asked to comment on The Heroes of Telemark,he dismissed it as hopeless.

    No doubt a brave man leading a group of exceptional brave and well led men whose SOE training ensured that the operation was most successful with no loss of life summed up by the following radio message.

    Signal to London from Gunnerside Team........................Operation carried out with complete success.High concentration plant completely destroyed.No suspicions aroused and no shots exchanged.Greetings.
    kopite, Peter Clare and dbf like this.
  10. Budgie 55

    Budgie 55 New Member

    I've read this book and it is an excellent read thoroughly recommend it
    Chris C likes this.

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