In the history of modern warfare, Weserübung Nord, the German invasion of Norway in 1940, occupies a distinguished station as the first campaign “jointly” planned and executed by ground, sea, and air forces. This paper examines the origins, concept, and planning of Weserübung Nord, as well as the execution of the landings. Brief attention is given to the defense of the landings against Allied counterstrokes and to issues associated with unified planning and direction. The origins of the campaign are found in the German naval experience in the First World War, interwar naval strategy debates, and the persona of Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, who was determined to secure a decisive role for the German Navy in the Second World War. Raeder capitalized on the fortuitous opportunities the Russo-Finnish War and the Norwegian traitor Vidkun Quisling presented to win Hitler over to his naval plans. Raeder and the Navy heavily influenced the concept development and planning of the campaign in concert with the High Command of the (German) Armed Forces, which also had a vested organizational interest in a military solution of the Norwegian issue. In executing Weserübung Nord, the German Armed Forces encountered major problems only at Oslo and Narvik. However, the operational-level success of the campaign tends to draw attention away from fundamental problems regarding unified planning and direction which emerged during the preparation and execution of the campaign.
“When the first [German] mountain troops in parachutes were dropped behind Narvik, it occurred that one fell directly in the water. The General [Dietl] came up to him as a petty officer was pulling him out of the water.”
“So soldier, how do you end up here?”
“With the help of the three branches of the Armed Forces, Herr General,” shouted the man quick-wittedly, “the Army sent me up here, the Air Force transported me, and the Navy pulled me out of the water.”-General Dietl: das Leben eines Soldaten