Vidkun Quisling: A Short Biography
A man of obsessions, a passionate racialist with a romantic belief in the virtues of the ‘sturdy peasant farmer’, Quisling ruled war-time Norway as a devoted pupil of the Nazi government.
In considering the significance of the life of Vidkun Quisling it must always be remembered that he was a man of impulse. This is not to say that his actions were based upon sudden whims, but upon deeply-rooted convictions that led him to act hastily when he thought he saw an opening. He was a man of obsessions—he believed, for example, that the Nordic race formed the foundation of civilization and, at the same time, his knowledge of history told him that this was not true.
Similarly, he held a romantic view of the place of the “sturdy peasant farmer” in society, which in many ways bore a remarkably close resemblance to Rousseau’s concept of the noble savage. In short, his personality was dominated by two contradictory influences. His whole background led him to believe in the superior quality of certain races and types of people, and his early struggles confirmed him in this belief.
His education and high intelligence always suggested that these instinctive ideas were not wholly sound. Unfortunately for him and for Norway, his desire for recognition as a leader did not allow him to overcome his inner conflict. It is in the light of these facts that his life should be considered and his actions examined.
Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonsson Quisling was born at Fyresdal in Telemark in southern Norway on July 18th, 1887. His family was well known locally, though his mother’s family had originally come from Denmark. On his father’s side, however, the connections were almost entirely local.
For many generations the family had provided the local pastor. Loyalty to his home was, therefore, impressed upon Quisling from a very early age. It was a sentiment he never forgot. Wherever he travelled, he always remembered his childhood in Telemark and always hoped to return to Fyresdal to pursue the life of a farmer. He held a simple, romantic view of society—but one in which he believed implicitly.