When the Germans invaded Norway in April 1940, the leader of the Nasjonal Samling and also the Nazi sympathizer, Vidkun Quisling, tried to form a government strong enough to take over the leadership of Norway. But Quisling did not have enough support, so Hitler appointed Josef Terboven as the reich commissioner for occupied Norway at the end of April 1940. Terboven immediately took measures to strengthen the Germans’ control of Norway and Quisling had to accept the insignificant post as minister-president.

Terboven had served in the First World War and studied law and political science after the war. He came into contact with nationalist political groupings and joined the Nazi party. In 1928 Hitler appointed Terboven as Gauleiter (highest political leader) in the district of Essen. In 1935, he was appointed president of the Rhine province and became a feared hardcore unscrupulous Nazi. Characteristics Hitler favoured and therefore saw Terboven as suitable to handle the unruly Norwegians. Although it was Quisling and his cabinet that officially held power in Norway, it was Terboven who had real power. Only the army and the SS was outside his control.

Terboven was ultimately responsible for the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the Germans in Norway. During Terboven’s time as reich commissar, Skaugum estate in Asker, just south of Oslo, served as his private residence. His official residence was the parliament in Oslo. Terboven also held official partys in Skaugum for prominent German leaders in Norway. The highest SS chief in Norway, Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Rediess, had his own service residence at Skaugum. In 1944, Terboven built a shelter behind Skaugum.

As the end of the war approached, Terboven’s world fell apart. He was since 1923 a dedicated Nazi who could not imagine a world and future without Nazism and Hitler. Terboven was also fully aware what he was guilty of during his years in Norway. He knew to well that he will be sentenced to death if captured. To avoid justice, he blew himself up in the bunker at Skaugum on May 8, 1945. The same day Rediess also committed suicide in Skaugum and his body was placed in the bunker together with Terboven’s. Due to the explosion it was difficault to identify the bodies. 

Current status: Preserved (2017).

Location: 59° 51'14 N, 10° 26'35 E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Skaugum is (2017) the home of the Norwegian crown prince Haakon and his wife Mette-Marit and thus closed to visitors. To keep unauthorized persons away from the estate, it is surrounded by high fences and guarded around the clock by the Royal Guard of His Majesty. As a visitor you can only walk on the outside of the estate. Because of the bushes and trees it is difficult to get a glimpse of the villa and the guards do not like people taking pictures.

Regarding the bunker where Terboven committed suicide, it’s still there behind Skaugum, well hidden among the trees. It laid partially underground and was quiet big. It consisted of several rooms for various purposes and the idea was probably that the inhabitants would be able stay in the bunker for longer times if necessary. To my knowledge, it should remain in relatively good condition. However, it is within a security area that makes it difficult (or impossible) to get a glimpse of it.

Follow up in books: Greene, Jack, Massignani, Alessandro: Hitler Strikes North: The Nazi Invasion of Norway & Denmark, April 9, 1940 (2013).