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A Picture from History: Max Manus

We take a look at Max Manus -- a Norwegian resistance fighter known for sabotaging the Nazis in World War II.

The Winter War was over. 

The Scandinavians had done everything they could to fight off the Soviets. Men such as Simo Hayha engaged in brutal guerilla warfare against the invaders. 

Little did the Soviets know they were going to create legendary men when they invaded. Little did they know, they would meet the likes of Max Manus. 

Max Manus
Max Manus

The Invasion of the Nazis

For the Norwegians, there was little reprieve in their homeland from the threat of war. Right on the heels of The Winter War the Nazi invasion began. 

Fortunately, the men of the country were more than capable of fighting. Unfortunately, blitzkrieg tactics seemed to work very well.

Norwegian Parliament building under Nazi Occupation
Norwegian Parliament building under Nazi occupation

As Nazi troops and tanks filled his homeland, Max Manus did what he could to organize an underground resistance. 

Vikun Quisling
Vikun Quisling, the Norwegian Prime Minister whose cooperation with the Nazis would make his name synonymous with “traitor”

He created an extensive underground, manufactured weapons, crafted illegal “propaganda” against Hitler’s cronies, and more.

It wasn’t long until he transformed himself into one of the Nazis’ most sought out enemies. And this self-transformation came with a price.

Germans on a frozen lake in Norway
Germans on a frozen lake in Norway

A Matter of Time

 In 1941, the Gestapo captured Manus. They raided and searched his home. Grenades and incriminating documents were found, leaving Manus certain of a torturous death. 

Gestapo agents
Gestapo agents

As the Nazis congratulated themselves, they momentarily released their grip on Manus, who promptly dove out his second-story window. But the hard ground quickly rendered him unconscious, and he was caught once more and taken to a hospital. 

There, Manus miraculously escaped thanks to a Norwegian nurse sympathetic to the cause. She helped lower Manus out of a second-story window. 

Upping the Ante

After escaping to Sweden, Manus began a long journey of training in guerilla warfare and sabotage techniques.

He even picked up the art of parachuting. Soon, he dropped with other fighters into the forests of Oslo to resume fighting once more. 

Forest in Norway
Forested Nordmarka, a region in northern Oslo (Photo: Sondrekv)

Factories, oil refineries, airplanes — they were all fair game for Max Manus and his gang of freedom fighters. After the war, reports state Manus was responsible for the destruction of 100 Nazi warplanes

But Manus’ particular specialty was his understanding of limpet mines — small explosives planted along the hulls of ships. 

The SS Donau and the Monte Rosa sank as a result of his efforts. 

Sunken SS Donau
The sunken SS Donau


Manus lived to see the end of the war. Afterward, he went on to write a series of books about his efforts (sadly, all of which are out of print). However, to learn more about this remarkable fighter, I recommend the Norwegian movie Max Manus: Man of War. 

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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5 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    John Lakey

    I read his book at the library and saw a movie about him. He was fabulous! Although he struggled with depression later in life.

    October 14, 2022 7:26 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Douglas L Dicketts

    Soviets may be the boogie man of today but I'm A little confused, weren't the Russians also fighting the Nazis. Was the mention of Soviets an error or is there more to this story?

    April 18, 2022 7:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    terrific, younger generations are not getting this history from school, so keep it up

    April 18, 2022 7:04 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris D.

    Keep this going! I like the short format as it doesn't bore yet prompts me to do further reading on the subjects presented.

    April 17, 2022 10:18 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Glad you like it and thanks for reading!

      April 18, 2022 6:05 am
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