Norwegian hero Roen­neberg who blew up Nazi plant dies at 99

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The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - W Eekend | Inspiringpeople -

ORWAY on Mon­day mourned World War II sabo­teur Joachim Roen­neberg, who headed a five-man team that dar­ingly blew up a plant pro­duc­ing heavy wa­ter, de­priv­ing Nazi Ger­many of a key in­gre­di­ent it could have used to make nu­clear weapons.

Prime Min­is­ter Erna Sol­berg said Roen­neberg, who died Sun­day at 99, was “one of our finest re­sis­tance fight­ers” whose “courage con­trib­uted to what has been re­ferred to as the most suc­cess­ful sab­o­tage cam­paign” in Nor­way.

Roen­neberg, then 23, was tapped by the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Ex­ec­u­tive, or SOE — Bri­tain’s war-time in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing and sab­o­tage unit — to de­stroy key parts of the heav­ily guarded plant in Tele­mark, in south­ern Nor­way, in a raid in Fe­bru­ary 1943.

In a 2014 Norwegian doc­u­men­tary in con­nec­tion with his 95th birthday, Roen­neberg said the dar­ing oper­a­tion went “like a dream” — a ref­er­ence to the fact that not a sin­gle shot was fired.

Parachut­ing onto snow-cov­ered moun­tains, the group was joined by a hand­ful of other com­mando sol­diers be­fore ski­ing to their des­ti­na­tion. They then pen­e­trated the fortress-like heavy-wa­ter plant to blow up its pro­duc­tion line.

Roen­neberg said he made a last-minute de­ci­sion to cut the length of his fuse from sev­eral min­utes to sec­onds, en­sur­ing that the ex­plo­sion would take place but mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to es­cape. The group skied hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters (miles) across the moun­tains to es­cape and Roen­neberg, wear­ing a Bri­tish uni­form, ended up in neigh­bor­ing neu­tral Swe­den.

Oper­a­tion Gun­ner­side has been re­counted in books, doc­u­men­taries, films and TV series, in­clud­ing “The He­roes of Tele­mark,” star­ring Kirk Dou­glas and Richard Har­ris.

“We must not for­get what he stood for and has passed on to us,” said Eva Vinje Aurdal, mayor of his home­town of Aale­sund, 380 kilo­me­ters (235 miles) north­west of the cap­i­tal, Oslo.

The town or­dered flags to fly at half-mast Mon­day and flow­ers were laid at the foot of a sculp­ture of Roen­neberg, show­ing him in a uni­form, walk­ing up a rocky path. In­au­gu­rated in 2014 by Roen­neberg, the gran­ite mon­u­ment car­ries the names of all the men who took part in the World War II raid.

Photo: AP

Norwegian war hero and re­sis­tance fighter Joachim Roen­neberg, April 2013.

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