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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Traitor Week #4: Vidkun Quisling—"A vile race of Quislings"

Vidkun Quisling
    Few traitors can commit their betrayals alone. They need collaborators, co-conspirators, dupes, lackeys, water carriers. Even the most famous traitors do. As singular as the role of defense minister Vidkun Quisling was in handing Norway over to the Nazis in April, 1940, and as unpopular as he would become, he had help. Lots of it, as Winston Churchill pointed out in a speech on June 12, 1941, when Quisling's name was already well on its way to becoming a staple in many of the world's languages:
      "The prisons of the continent no longer suffice. The concentration camps are overcrowded. Every dawn German volleys crack. Czechs, Poles, Dutchmen, Norwegians, Yugoslavs and Greeks, Frenchmen, Belgians, Luxemburgers make the great sacrifice for faith and country. A vile race of Quislings—to use a new word which will carry the scorn of mankind down the centuries—is hired to fawn upon the conqueror, to collaborate in his designs and to enforce his rule upon their fellow countrymen while groveling low themselves. Such is the plight of once glorious Europe and such are the atrocities against which we are in arms."
     Joseph Goebbels was so dismayed to see the name of the Nazis' man in Norway being used as a synonym for "collaborator," he used his propaganda machine to try to similarly tar the names of pro-Allied politicians as synonyms for a people leading their country to disaster.
     It didn't work. Quisling's unpopularity couldn't be reproduced. He was already disliked in the 1930s, when Quisling created the Norwegian fascist party and embraced Hitler. Quisling was more enthusiastic about the Nazis invading Norway than Hitler had been, and had to convince him. 
     Contempt for Quisling only deepened when the war broke out and Quisling handed his country over to the Germans, infecting a group you might not expect: his supposed masters. The Nazis also grew to hate and distrust Quisling, because he couldn't get things done. He was too disliked.  When Quisling was installed as prime minister in February, 1942, his popularity was estimated at 1 percent, and was met with terror bombings and the resignation of the Supreme Court, en masse. He was more an annoyance than an asset; eventually the Germans had to forbid Quisling from writing to Hitler.       
     Not that much of this sank in. The vanity of the traitor knows no bounds. Even as the war ended, Quisling assumed he could slip out of this misunderstanding. He always had Norway's best interests at heart.  In May, 1945, he surrendered himself, arriving at prison in the silver-plated Mercedes-Benz limo that Hitler had given him. Quisling complained about being kept in an ordinary cell, and that its chair was too small. His captors were not sympathetic.
     Sullen and defiant, Quisling shouted out at his trial that he was the "Savior of Norway!" 
     He was sentenced to death before a firing squad, and executed in October, 1945. His last words were the very Trumpian, "I am convicted unfairly and die innocent." 
     Which leads to an interesting question: will it be "Trump," as in, "If he sells those secrets he'll become a Trump." Or the lowercase "trump"? And how many of his collaborators will share his deathless shame? Time will tell. 


  1. A lowercase "trump" will work when used with a qualifier, such as "treasonous trump" or "traitorous trump". Likewise, a person could be charged specifically with "trumperous treason" or "trumpian behavior". But, "Trump" as a standalone noun should be capitalized to avoid confusing pinochle players.

  2. I think we should repurpose the word "trumpery" to describe the entire panoply of shenanigans that we've come to identify with Donald. The old meaning fits pretty well too.


    1. Trumpery is an odd coincidence. It's a perfect fit. Another fit -- and I hate to mention it -- is, trump is an alteration of triumph. (I'm sure Donald doesn't know this or he'd be crowing incessantly.)

    2. Quisling sounds like "weakling", descriptive in its' pure sound and when added to the history of the man the word was destined to stick. Trump is a strong word more difficult to apply it to a weasel of a person like Drumpf. Perhaps it can replace ''strongly", especially when used sarcastically.

  3. I never knew that Quisling was too much of a toady even for the Nazis to stomach. Which is interesting because Trump also reportedly disdains those who try to suck up to him, at least if he thinks they're doing it out of weakness.

  4. Quisling did the Nazis no favors, and actually helped bring about their downfall. In a proud nation of only three million citizens, Hitler needed 300,000 troops to combat a very strong Norwegian resistance movement. Strategically, they could have been vital along the Atlantic coast, or sent to fight in Russia. The Germans always claimed their armies were deployed to Norway to repel an Allied invasion, and not to fight the Norwegian people. Yeah, right.

    Quisling did accomplish one thing,though. He enriched our language with a new word for "traitor" or "betrayer" the manner of a "Benedict Arnold." The London Times wrote; "The word quisling (small Q) has the supreme merit of beginning with a "q"...which (with one august exception), has long seemed to the British mind to be a crooked, uncertain, and slightly disreputable letter, suggestive of the questionable, the querulous, the quavering of quaking quagmires and quivering quicksands, of quibbles and quarrels, of queasiness, quackery, qualms, and Quilp (the vicious, ill-tempered villain in a Dickens novel)." The 'august exception' is, of course, the Queen.

    Will Trump's name have the same fate as Quisling's? Uncapitalized, it already means "to surpass, outdo, outsmart, outwit, best, outscore, or vanquish"...according to Roget's Thesaurus. Pure Donald. But then there is also "trumped-up"..."false, made-up, fraudulent, conconcted, invented, fabricated, devised." Perhaps that is the one that will survive. And it may even become another, less obscene term for a six-letter hyphenated expression that means a botch, a bungle, or a fumble. As in..."The Browns really trumped-up that last play." Or maybe "Wow, dude, you really trumped-up that time. You're a real trump-up, you know that?" Wouldn't surprise me at all.

    1. True on both counts. Where did I refute either statement? How, exactly, am I being a revisionist? What have you been smoking? Quisling was a Fascist even before the war, who betrayed both his country and his people. The number of troops needed to occupy Norway, and the Norwegians' heroic resistance to that occupation, are both historical facts.So what the hell are you babbling about? Please enlighten and inform the rest of us.

    2. Yes, of course he did, in a literal sense. But "to do someone no favors" is a figurative expression, not a literal one. It means "to not be of much help (or often any help at all)" to that someone. It is an idiom. Is English your first language?

      Read the post again. The Germans neither liked nor trusted him. Quisling finally persuaded them to invade a country that could easily have remained neutral, as Sweden was. The Norwegian people strongly resisted their occupiers, thereby diverting badly-needed forces from other fronts.

      Quisling's treasonous administration was so ineffective and so despised that the Norwegian puppet eventually became an annoyance and a hindrance to even his own puppet-masters. And yet, even to the very end, he thought of himself as "Norway's Savior." The current occupant of the Oval Office is much like the man who wanted to make Norway great again...and there's even a faint physical similarity.

      How many more times do you need all this explained, and how many more times are you going to keep chanting "Bullshit, bullshit!" in reply? It's called "reading comprehension" for a reason.

    3. If Quisling did the Nazis no favors it wasn't for lack of trying. He started out a traitor and deservedly died as one.

    4. I will keep calling it bullshit until you stop defending a Nazi loving traitor to his people.
      My guess is that you're an anti-Semite & never will stop defending a traitor to his country!

    5. One of those slef-hating Jews, right? Bingo. I will never forgive the Slefs for what they did to us. My own guess is that you don't like words and their meanings--you're anti-semantic. And maybe Norwegian....hence the hissy fit.

  5. The framers of the Constitution took deliberate steps to ensure that treason trials would not be used as political weapons against opponents. Article 3, Section 3 defines the crime very narrowly: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
    enemies are defined very precisely under American treason law. An enemy is a nation or an organization with which the United States is in a declared or open war .
    Russia is a strategic adversary whose interests are frequently at odds with those of the United States, but for purposes of treason law it is no different than Canada or France

    words are important. they have agreed upon meanings. try to use words wisely and accurately

    1. If this was a legal journal or the like, your point would be better taken. But in this context, I think we can safely assume the more colloquial uses of treason, which you can find in the dictionary.


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