RIP Birger Stromsheim, hero of WWII Norway "Heavy Water" raid
At the age of 101, one of the true heroes of WWII passed away last month, and I unfortunately didn't hear about it until yesterday when the New York Times ran this story:
There was no Google Earth, no Gore-Tex and only a modest measure of hope on the February night in 1943 when six Norwegians parachuted into the remote and frigid Telemark region of their home country for an outdoor challenge like few others.
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.
There was of course a movie made about the raid, but Mr. Stromsheim didn’t think much of it...
He and other members of the mission at Norsk Hydro received medals from several Allied countries. In 1965, Hollywood produced “The Heroes of Telemark,” a film starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris that included shootouts, dramatic chases through the snow and love scenes. The soldiers roundly panned the movie as unrealistic.
“He saw that,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son said. “He didn’t like it. It was too glamorous.”
Once again there is an outstanding BBC documentary on the raid, which if you have two spare hours you should watch: