The Winter Fortress – How Nine Norwegians Saved the World!!

The Winter Fortress - Neal Bascomb
The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb – Neal Bascomb

The Winter Fortress recounts the tale of the 1942 sabotage of the Vemork hydroelectric plant in Norway. The plant was one of the few places in the world that produced heavy water. Nazi Germany wanted all the heavy water that Norway could produce.. Heavy water was a key element for the production of an atomic bomb. I never had really heard of the mission before reading the book, but now I feel that I lived through it! Bascomb did a great job researching and writing The Winter Fortress, The book reads more like an action novel than a work of non-fiction.

The Story

By 1942 Norway was and the Vemork hydroelectric plant were under the control of Nazi Germany. The Vemork hydroelectric plant was producing heavy water that was headed to German researchers. Researchers who were researching nuclear fission, which ultimately could be used in the creation of an atomic bomb  Aware of this research, the Allies knew that something had to be done. The Norwegians felt that an air attack would actually miss the parts of the plant that need to be destroyed. What would be required was a commando attack on the facility.

vemork_hydroelectric_plant_1935
The Winter Fortress in 1935. The heavy water was produced in the front building (the Hydrogen Production Plant).

The Winter Fortress tells the story of the brave Norwegian resistance fighters. Several of these fighters escaped to England. They were trained in England, and reinserted back into Norway. Where they fought bravely for their homeland.

During the months leading up to the attack the fighters faced countless hardships. While waiting for British forces and supplies, they fought the cold and near starvation. As well as, living  in fear of being captured, interrogated and/or killed by the Nazis. Finally, after a failed attempt to insert British commandos, a decision was made, that they were to be the commandos! It’s the ultimate tale of bravery and giving all for your country!

The Movie Version The Heroes of Telemark

As I read the book, I thought this would make a great action movie. the other day I was telling one of my co-workers at Target, who is actually older than me about the book. He said :”heavy water, I saw a movie about that”. While he couldn’t remember the name of the movie at the time, he did text me later. He said the movie was The Heroes of Telemark.  Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris.were the stars of the movie. The movie was released in 1966, when I was a young lad 15 years old! Fifty years ago, wow! I think it’s time for a remake! From Turner Classic Movies……

Based on a true story, The Heroes of Telemark stars Kirk Douglas as Dr. Rolf Pedersen, a scientist who’s forced to team up with a Norwegian underground leader (Richard Harris), to destroy a factory where Nazis are producing “heavy water,” a key element in the making of atomic weapons. The two men are forever at each other’s throats (just as Douglas and Harris reportedly were during filming), but they still manage to make several attempts at sabotaging the Nazi’s A-Bomb program. Read More

Bottom Line:

The Winter Fortress is very very  engrossing and well-written.The amount of research that went it writing this book was exceptional. The book provides a vivid picture of the service of these brave Norwegian resistance fighters. Here’s what some others say about the book….

“In The Winter Fortress Neal Bascomb brilliantly tells the extraordinary true story of arguably the most important and daring commando raid of World War II; how an amazing band of men on skis made sure that Hitler never got to drop the ultimate bomb”- Alex Kershaw Author of The Longest Winter

“A riveting, high-action World War II thriller with nothing less than the fate of planet Earth on the line. Just imagine the horror if Hitler had gotten the atomic bomb. Written with great verve and historical acumen, The Winter Fortress hits the mark of excellence. Highly Recommended!!” – Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge and Cronkite

I totally agree with both quotes, so check it out!! As for me, I am going to check out The Heroes of Telemark!

Book 34 of 2016 

Links for the Further Exploration of The Winter Fortress

Author’s Website
Amazon
Goodreads
Wikipedia