In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of a successful sabotage campaign against the Nazis, members of the Minnesota National Guard reenacted the mission in Snaasa, Norway, the US Army reports.
The reenactment included a 12-mile cross-country ski trek that retraced the movements of US and Norwegian troops in 1945. The original WWII operation was a sabotage campaign aimed against the occupying Nazi force during the closing days of the war.
By 1945, the Nazis had occupied Norway for five years and hundreds of thousands of German soldiers remained in the country. Eager to end the war in Europe, the US and Norwegian resistance members carried out a targeted campaign of destroying Norwegian railroads. The goal was to hinder movement so as to prevent the large detachment of Nazis from reinforcing German positions in central Europe.
The special operations were carried out by Norwegian-speaking Americans from the 99th Infantry Battalion, which largely recruited from Minnesota and the Dakotas. These operators were trained by the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, before uniting with Norwegian forces.
The reenactment also included a mock demolition of the Jorstad railroad bridge. The exercise ended with a ceremony at a memorial near the bridge.
Members of the Norwegian, US, and German armed forces attended the ceremony. It honored both the soldiers that carried out the sabotage, as well as allied troops who died hours later, on January 13, 1945, in an operation after a train derailed due to the destruction of the bridge.
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