Bjørn WestlieFeb 11, 2024
My Father's War
Confronting Norway's Nazi Past
University of Wisconsin Press 2023
My Father's War: Confronting Norway's Nazi Past (U Wisconsin Press, 2023) is simultaneously a history of the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II and a son's sincere attempt to understand the silences, motivations, and experiences of an estranged father. In this carefully researched book, combining family memoir and historical retelling, Bjørn Westlie uncovers his father's actions as a volunteer soldier for the Waffen-SS, the military wing of the infamous Schutzstaffel (SS), in the invasion of the Soviet Union. Balancing his role as both son and critical investigator, Westlie unflinchingly interrogates his father's fascist convictions, which speak to the appeal Hitler's ideology held for a small, disgraced segment of Norway's mid-century population. A story of collaboration, tragedy, and treason, My Father's War reveals the little-known history of Norway's frontkjempere (front fighters), the atrocities the Waffen-SS committed against Ukrainian Jews, and the complex legacies of ethnonationalism in Norway.
With an insightful introduction from translator Dean Krouk, My Father's War is a contemporary classic of war literature. Committed to genuine understanding without falling into undue sympathizing, this sober and reflective book presents an eye-opening, moving, intense, and necessary account of the allure of fascism in a world at war--and its personal costs.