Green Room

Hero of crazy WWII anti-Nazi sabotage on skis dies at 101

posted at 2:11 pm on December 10, 2012 by

The subject of the 1965 movie “The Heroes of Telemark,” the raid on Norsk Hydro, a German-controlled plant in Norway by survivalist skiing commandos is one of the most astounding of the war. One of its heroes, demolitions expert Birger Stromshein, passed away this week. In the style of a truly humble badass, Stromshein found the movie portrayal of the assault unrealistic and overly glamorous:

They had skis and explosives and a destination: the German-controlled Norsk Hydro facility, high on an isolated and snowy ridge. The Norwegians intended to destroy equipment inside that the Germans were using to produce what is known as heavy water, a crucial ingredient in making a nuclear weapon and one they feared the Nazis would use to build an atomic bomb. One of the demolitions experts on the team, Birger Stromsheim, died Nov. 10 in Oslo at 101.

It was not the first attempt to destroy the heavy water equipment. Just a few months earlier another group of four Norwegians became stranded in the area after British soldiers for whom they were doing advance work were captured, tortured and eventually killed. That first group hunkered down for the winter in an abandoned cabin, built a makeshift radio from a car battery and stolen fishing rods and began planning their own rescue and another assault on Norsk Hydro. They ate lichen that they scraped from rocks, killed an occasional reindeer for meat and vigilantly avoided detection by the occupying Germans.

The second effort would not fail. After parachuting to a plateau, the second group, some of whom grew up in the area, skied in subzero temperatures for several days before uniting with the four stranded soldiers. The combined group then made its way to the opposite side of a steep gorge from the Norsk Hydro facility. With the only bridge across guarded by Nazis, they descended to the bottom and climbed to the top on the other side.

God bless them all.

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That sort of heroism seems to be in short supply in these times.

Certainly none in government circles.

FOWG1 on December 10, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Sadly, Norway today embraces the likes and legacy of Vidkun Quisling more than this man.

Rixon on December 10, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Absolutely incredible story too. I remember seeing the movie when I was a kid. I had adventure fantasy’s about it that I relived as an young adult in my early twenty’s. You had to grow up in that weather to really survive it like the first party did. Thanks for your service.

jake49 on December 10, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Amazing that these guys were able to climb up the other side of the Ridge….not because of how high it was but because these guys were totin’ stones the size of wrecking balls.

the Coondawg on December 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Saw this on the Military Channel just a few days ago. Stones.

Akzed on December 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Whoa! I’ll admit I’ve never heard of this direct example of skiing soldiers in WW2. Incredible.

Stones.

Akzed on December 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Indeed, stones for days!

nextgen_repub on December 10, 2012 at 3:43 PM

RELEASE THE HEEL!!!

teacherman on December 10, 2012 at 3:44 PM

But wasn’t it actually Obama who killed Norsk Hydro? That was a Gutsy Call.®

SoRight on December 10, 2012 at 3:45 PM

If you ever get to Oslo, be sure to make a visit to the Norwegian Resistance Museum, and give yourself plenty of time to see everything. Excellent.

Bob's Kid on December 10, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Ooooh, MKH said “badass”!

GWB on December 10, 2012 at 5:17 PM

I saw this guy in an interview, for a time he had 3 Germans on Ski’s chasing him in a cross country race for his life, Two of them dropped off but the third kept up, eventually he turned around and just shot the guy following him. The interviewer asked him if he felt as if it was un sportsman to do that, his response was along the lines THEY WERE TRYING TO KILL ME.

rob verdi on December 10, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Nice to hear stories about real heroes since we get so much pablum from Hollyweird nowadays. I’m sure we still have some guys that could do as much if the occasion called for it.

Kissmygrits on December 10, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Such men! The world owes such a debt to people like them.

And today, in their place, we have politicians so afraid to stand for principles they will throw it all away out of fear of being called names. Extremist and racist.

Out of fear of words Republican leaders will readily go along with destroying what others risked torture and death to preserve.

JellyToast on December 10, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Ahh.. Norway! A once great country now islamic. The good old days indeed.

Mahdi on December 10, 2012 at 6:12 PM

That sort of heroism seems to be in short supply in these times.

Certainly none in government circles.

FOWG1 on December 10, 2012 at 2:37 PM

No, it’s still here. The difference is the media and Hollywood chooses to no longer tell those kinds of stories.

Kevin71 on December 10, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Jihadis are the new Nazis, except that the Media and our “leaders” studiously avoid saying so.

How dare we insult the prophet of Islam by calling him a tyrannical, mass-murdering, plagiarizing, poet-assassinating pedophile scumbag.

profitsbeard on December 10, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Recommending these men to badassoftheweek.com

I don’t know how they walked with those big brass balls clanking every step they took.

MelonCollie on December 10, 2012 at 8:16 PM

It’s sad to say, but the largest share of Europe that was save from the Germans by heroic men like this, is now being invaded by Muslims. And they are bending over backward to accommodate them. Of course we here are accommodating them too. Such a waste.

savage24 on December 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM

Bob’s Kid on December 10, 2012 at 4:04 PM

I have. And seconded.

Left Coast Right Mind on December 10, 2012 at 11:35 PM

If you ever get to Oslo, be sure to make a visit to the Norwegian Resistance Museum, and give yourself plenty of time to see everything. Excellent.

Bob’s Kid on December 10, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Get there quick before they cover all the exhibits with plaques saying how 0bama also saved the world by killing Osama bin Laden.

pedestrian on December 11, 2012 at 12:23 AM

Thank you and Amen.

mbabbitt on December 11, 2012 at 1:39 AM

That sort of heroism seems to be in short supply in these times.

If you have not already, please read “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell.

BigAlSouth on December 11, 2012 at 6:03 AM

rob verdi on December 10, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Yes, it’s always unsportsmanlike to kill an enemy soldier during a war trying to kill you. He should have sent his second to the Nazi’s second to schedule a duel and a tea time.

NotCoach on December 11, 2012 at 8:03 AM

And today, in their place, we have politicians so afraid to stand for principles they will throw it all away out of fear of being called names. Extremist and racist.

Out of fear of words Republican leaders will readily go along with destroying what others risked torture and death to preserve.

Out of fear of some discomfort and the loss of material goods – toys, really – the American people let them do it.

Out of a self centered belief that they are entitled to the labor and lives of those who produce the wealth that makes the toys they love so much possible they have invited their destroyers into power.

single stack on December 11, 2012 at 9:05 AM

John Kerry led them…

right2bright on December 11, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Out of fear of some discomfort and the loss of material goods – toys, really – the American people let them do it.

single stack on December 11, 2012 at 9:05 AM

I will never get over the fact that we’ve traded hundreds of thousands of jobs for our countrymen for Chinese slave-labor plasticrap.

MelonCollie on December 11, 2012 at 10:34 AM