Posted by: Sarah | January 5, 2010

Drøbak: A Christmas Town Near Oslo

During Romjulen we took a day trip out to Drøbak.   We had a lot of snow the night before so when we arrived, many of the roads hadn’t even been touched – wow, it was cold – but the place looked like a winter wonderland.   Drøbak is a sleepy little town about 30 mins drive south of Oslo.  It has lots of art galleries and a Christmas shop that’s open all year-round called Julehuset.  This is also the place that receives those letters addressed to Santa, Lapland – they send them on to the North Pole.  It was once the winter port because Oslo port became so frozen it was impossible to get shipping freight that far up the fjord.  However, I don’t think that’s the case now since the ferries to Germany and Denmark still leave pretty regularly!

But not many know that Drøbak played a significant role during WWII and started, what still is, a friendly connection between England and Norway.  On April 9th 1940 German soldiers began to invade Norway – a surprise attack in the early morning.  The Nazi’s planned a swift occupation and sent a German cruiser Blücher up towards Oslo.  It was full of soldiers  – they were ready to occupy Norway.   However,  Norwegian shore defenses stepped in and sank the cruiser just off the coast of Drøbak near Fort Oscarborg thus allowing the Norwegian Royal Family and government to evacuate Oslo just in time.   On 7 June 1940, the Royal Family (King Haakon VII) left Tromsø aboard HMS Devonshire and safely arrived in London.   They remained in exile until the end of WW2 and returned to Oslo on 7 June 1945 – exactly 5 years after Germany invaded.

Providing this safe haven to King Haakon VII is probably one of the main reasons why England and Norway are so closely connected.  To this day, Norway gives England a huge Christmas Tree to stand in Trafalgar Square.  There’s also a statue of Winston Churchill in Oslo – an exact replica of the one in London.   This is a letter from Churchill to “The People Of Oslo” after his visit in 1949.  The connection is still alive!

However, I can’t remember the last time Norway gave 12 points to England in the Eurovision!

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