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Josef Antonius Heinrich Terboven

Reichskommissar Josef Terboven
Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. picture taken during WWII.

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

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.

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 which 800 were part of the secret police. His aspiration was to set up Fortress Norway (Festung Norwegen) for the last stand for the Nazi regime. He also planned to set up a concentration camp in Norway. Both these plans came to nothing.

Terboven was hated by the Norwegians and earned little respect among his fellow Germans. Joseph Goebbels' showed anger in his diary towards what he called Terboven's "bullying tactics" against the Norwegians. When the war was lost Terboven committed suicide on May 8, 1945 by detonating 50 kilograms of dynamite in a bunker on the Skaugum compound, along with the body of the SS commander in Norway, Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Rediess, who had shot himself earlier.

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