The Fascinating True Story Behind Narvik

“Narvik” follows the Toftes, a young Norwegian married couple from Narvik. Ingrid (Kristine Hartgen) works at the town’s biggest hotel while her husband Gunnar (Carl Martin Eggesbø) is a corporal in the army, and the two have a young son. With World War II raging on, Norway has declared its neutrality, but that doesn’t mean much to either side, who are quite interested in Narvik’s usefulness as a port in the North Atlantic that doesn’t freeze during winter, and can be used to transport iron ore from Sweden.

For Germany, this would mean resources to build their arsenal, and for Britain, it would mean cutting the enemy off their supply. Trying to play both sides, an early scene shows the town’s mayor meeting with delegates from Britain and Germany to discuss a neutral agreement to supply the iron to each of them without conflict. Unsurprisingly, however, neutrality is hard to maintain in wartime, especially once German military forces invade the town. In a harrowing scene, the Narvik garrison comes across German soldiers in the dark, pointing guns at them. The Nazi general shouts that they better surrender because they have no chance, and the Norwegian colonel surrenders his forces without resistance — in real life, that same colonel was actually a Nazi sympathizer.

The excuse is that the Germans are here to “protect” Norway’s neutrality against aggression from the British. This is April 9, 1940, the start of the German occupation of Norway, which was mostly a means of securing the iron ore supply. Quickly, the German forces overrun the town and set up a base at the Toftes’ hotel and nearby buildings, forcing the civilians out of their homes while serving smiles and pretenses about paying compensation for the disturbance.

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