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Snow Treasures

Janet Voke describes how fifty tons of gold were evacuated from Norway four hours ahead of the Nazi invasion in spring 1940.

On a snowy night, April 29th, 1940, at the wooden quayside of Molde on Norway’s west coast, the night sky was red from the flames of a village ablaze from intense German bombardment. The wooden buildings, boathouses and small farms of this picturesque country burned as the terrified residents fled from the Romsdal fjord to the mountains. A select group of passengers was trying, with great difficulty, to reach the British cruiser HMS Glasgow, sent at the specific order of George VI. The group had sheltered waist-deep in snow in a forest, forced out of their farmhouse hideout as bombs fell in their pursuit.

They had had a terrifying escape from Olso on April 9th. The invading German fleet had been intercepted in the Oslo fjord and a warship, the Blucher, torpedoed from the Oscarberg fort. Senior Germans destined to administer the country perished with the ship; its naval escorts headed back home. This episode bought a few vital hours, and as bombs fell from planes flying low over rooftops, two vital groups escaped the Germans. The royal party and the government left the capital by train at 7am, initially for Elverum; meanwhile the other (just four hours ahead of the Germans) carried the country’s gold reserves.

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