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Josef Terboven

Terboven in 1942
Born May 23, 1898(1898-05-23)
Essen, Rhine Province,
German Empire
Died May 8, 1945 (aged 46)
Asker, Norway

Josef Antonius Heinrich Terboven (May 23, 1898 – May 8, 1945) was a Nazi leader, best known as the Reichskommissar during the German military occupation of Norway.


Early life

Terboven was born in Essen, the son of minor landed gentry. He served in the German field artillery and nascent air force in World War I and was awarded the Iron Cross, rising to the rank of lieutenant. He studied law and political science at the universities of Munich and Freiburg, where he first got involved in politics.

Dropping out of the university in 1923, Terboven joined the NSDAP with member number 25247 and participated in the abortive Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. When the NSDAP was subsequently outlawed, he found work at a bank for a few years before being laid off in 1925.


He then went to work full-time for the Nazi party. Terboven helped establish the party in Essen and became Gauleiter there in 1928. He was part of the Sturmabteilung from 1925. On June 29, 1934, Terboven married Ilse Stahl, Joseph Goebbels' former secretary and mistress. Adolf Hitler was the guest of honor at the wedding. Terboven was made Oberpräsident der Rheinprovinz in 1935 and earned a reputation as a petty and ruthless ruler. See Martial law in Trondheim in 1942 and Telavåg.

Rule of Norway

Terboven (seated 2nd from right) with Quisling, Himmler and Falkenhorst

He was made Reichskommissar of Norway on April 24, 1940, even before the military invasion was completed on 7 June 1940. He moved into the Norwegian crown prince's residence at Skaugum in September 1940 and made his headquarters in Stortinget (the Norwegian parliament buildings).

Although the Nazi authorities instituted a puppet Norwegian regime through the Quisling cabinet, Terboven ruled Norway as a dictator. Terboven did not have authority over the 400,000 regular German Army forces stationed in Norway, but did command a force of 6,000, of whom 800 were part of the secret police. His aspiration was to set up Fortress Norway (Festung Norwegen) for the Nazi regime's last stand. He also planned to set up concentration camps in Norway, establishing Falstad concentration camp near Levanger and Bredtvet concentration camp in Oslo in late 1941.

Terboven was hated by the Norwegians and earned little respect among fellow Germans. Even Goebbels showed anger in his diary toward what he called Terboven's "bullying tactics" against the Norwegians. Terboven nervetheless remained in charge of Norway until 1945, even after the proclamation of the Quisling government.

With the announcement of Germany's surrender, Terboven committed suicide on May 8, 1945 by detonating 50 kg dynamite in a bunker on the Skaugum compound. He died alongside the body of Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Rediess, SS and Police Leader and commander of all SS troops in Norway, who had shot himself earlier.

Sources and references


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