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Research Unit N.1 – Norwegian Freedom: Object, Method and Effect

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This Political Warfare Executive report is an appraisal of the object, method and effect of the clandestine radio station known as N.1 – Norwegian Freedom, broadcasting to Norway.

The Norwegian RU has been off the air for some time, this being due to the fact that it was necessary for the Department to economise on petrol. It is the intention however to restart as soon as convenient.


The task of the Norwegian RU used to be to illuminate the nature of German tactics in Norway and to buttress the opposition of the home front.

Its object now will be to prepare the minds of the Norwegian people for the day when the armies of liberation will land. There is considerable evidence that the ordinary person in Norway has no idea of what will be expects of him when that time comes. The people have been under German rule for so long that their minds have become numb; they have had little opportunity to find out what peoples in other occupied countries are doing, and there is the danger that when the big day comes, while they will be full of welcome for the occupying troops, they will not have the mental equipment necessary for the quick success of our operations. What is needed now is a process of education in the method of liberation, and in the art of cooperation between the population at large and the fighting forces and operational propaganda agencies.

This task simply cannot be accomplished by the BBC as, owing to an agreement reached in 1940 the Norwegian Government has complete control over talks, while the BBC bulletin is given over entirely to news. Without an RU there is no means of effectively reaching the population on the above mentioned topics. The fact that leaflet operations are so rare is an additional reason why an RU is necessary. The authority of the RU would rest on its being the voice of these members of the home front who are deeply conscious of the role that people me play in bringing about liberation. The RU would appeal to each group, e.g. trade unionists, lawyers, teachers, clergy, youth, women etc. and would indicate concretely how each group can play a vital part in accordance with strategic necessity. The point to remember is that the inner leadership of the home front is strongly nationalistic and is sceptical of outside interference; but this is not true of all its members. The doctrine what we now need to spread is that a concentration on home front methods as hitherto practised might even be a hindrance to the sort of activity which will be called for when the hour strikes. Reliance on the technique which has proved so successful during the occupation may be misleading unless the people are thoroughly informed of the completely new situation which will come upon them when they will be in process of being liberated.


Transmission times are not yet fixed. The following would suit the RU best: Four transmissions a week for 15 minutes at 19.30-19.45, 22.4-23.00 (BST).

Voices: Two voices are used. This is a minimum number.

We broadcast recorded material. Security considerations are paramount.

There is a coordination with sibs but not with leaflets. In view of the peculiar situation regarding Norwegian BBC broadcast we have an opportunity to fill a big gap left by the BBC and, like most clandestine organisations in Norway, the RU relies considerably on the BBC for its news. There is also coordination with the BBC broadcast specifically designed for clandestine newspapers.


The following is a summary of evidence of reactions:

The most important reactions to the Norwegian RU were those in response to the “1918” campaign, which was carried by the RU during the months of September and October 1942. In mid-December 1942 a considerable crop of reactions to this campaign came in; repeated news agency reports stated that the symbol was appearing all over Norway and was having a pronounced effect on the morale of the Germans. Instances of these reports are as follows:

German Jitters Spread in Norway: The ominous figure “1918” painted on walls in Bergen, Oslo and many other Norwegian towns is having a “marked effect” on the morale of German soldiers, according to reports received here from usually well-informed sources.

“1918” Reminder to Germans in Norway: Norwegians are painting a sign “1918” on walls and fences in Bergen, says the Norwegian Telegraph Agency. The Germans are making great attempts to paint them out but as soon as one is obliterated another reappears somewhere else.

The “1918” Campaign: A positive reaction to the RU’s “1918” campaign has been noted; a BBC news item from Bergen states that the symbol “1918” is being [painted] on walls with a persistence which is causing concern to the German authorities.

Otherwise, a considerable number of listener reactions were obtained. For instance, a number of RPS reports stated that the RU was badly jammed; that many people listened to the Norwegian Freedom Station as well as to the BBC Norwegian news. Aftenposten and other quisling papers contained violent officially-inspired denunciations of the London and Boston radios, as well as the RU. A German official on a visit to Stockholm, reported that the RU was very widely listened to in Sweden and that he believed that it was located in Norway and allied to the central underground organisation since it was so well informed of current events inside the country.


[Source: TNA FO 898/51, transcribed by]



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