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Helgeland was a very important area for the German occupying forces during World War II. Hitler was in fact convinced that allied forces would land forces here where Norway is narrow towards the Swedish border, and thus shut down the important German naval forces in Troms. Inside Mo i Rana, the national road ran from south to north, and work on the Nordland line was also underway here. A new coastal fort was established on Helgeland. Grønsvik Kystfort has been restored and is open as a museum.

Mo i Rana, historie, Grønsvik Kystfort, Helgeland Museum, andre verdenskrig

A formidable restoration work has been done at the coastal fort. Photo: Helgeland Museum

The Germans occupied Norway as early as April 1940. Particularly important for the German armed forces was gaining control of the Norwegian fjords, and equally important in the long run was gaining access to the ore resources of iron and nickel in northern Norway and the Russian Kola Peninsula.


After Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Joseph Stalin turned to Winston Churchhill and asked for help in the form of weapons and equipment. The Allies immediately started supplying the Russians with the so-called Murmansk convoys. These chains of ships sailed via Iceland and far north in the Barents Sea, almost up to Svalbard, on their way to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. These were the only Soviet ports that could accommodate so many large ships.

Murmanskkonvoiene, andre verdenskrig, Mo i Rana, historie

During the Murmansk convoys, many civilian sailors were killed. Photo: Imperial War Museum

The Germans responded by stationing the battleship Tirpitz in the Altafjord in Finnmark, and together with German submarines, they made the convoys an icy and deadly hell for the sailors in the unarmed American, English and Norwegian cargo ships.


Through the daring attack "Operation Source", three English mini-submarines managed to attach explosives to the battleship, which was well protected behind several torpedo nets and guard boats inside the narrow Kåfjord. The German battleship was so damaged that it could not be sailed, and along the coast the Germans had to send ship workers and equipment. The coastal forts were thus important for safe traffic.


When the repair work on the Tirpitz was completed, a coordinated attack was carried out by English aircraft and the American aircraft carrier USS Ranger.

On the islands just off the coastal fort, heroic intelligence work was going on. The two radio transmitters Pisces and Crux III reported on German ships sailing along the charter, and by stating the time of the passages, one could in England calculate sailing speed and calculate where the ships were. This made bombing attacks easier to plan.

Mo i Rana, andre verdenskrig, Grønsvik kystfort

Grønsvik Kystfort was important for protecting the railway construction at Mo i Rana. Photo: Helgeland Museum

At the end of the war in 1945, there were close to 300 German coastal forts along the Norwegian coast. In the years that followed, the forts were destroyed by both vandalism and the search for suitable equipment. A lot of material was scraped and melted down. Grønsvik Kystfort has been restored and is today a museum of great historical value. During the summer, the museum is open during the day. Upon request, the museum can open for groups of special interests.

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