The Norwegian treason trials (Rettsoppgjør) after Second World War from the Perspective of Gender History

Employees (IfZ):   Christina Holzmann

When the war and occupation ended in Norway on 8 May 1945, the wish for a reckoning with collaborators was just as great as that for the rapid reestablishment of the democratic rule of law. Both were to be implemented through the process of Rettsoppgjør (“legal settlement”). This had already been prepared during the war by the Norwegian government in exile and the leadership of the Norwegian resistance. Norway thus provides an important case example for transitional justice following the end of National Socialist rule. This is particularly the case as the Norwegian project of historical reckoning was and continues to be the most comprehensive in the world when taking into account the relation between those under investigation and the size of the country’s population of around 3 million: In the years following the war, over 92,000 people were investigated for possible collaboration. Over 50,000 alleged collaborators were ultimately brought to court, of whom 46,000 were convicted. Around a third of those convicted were women, a high proportion by international comparison.

This dissertation looks into these trials, also known as Landssvikoppgjør (literally “settlement with treason”), pursuing approaches of gender history and taking into account selected collaborator trials. The project is thus located at the intersection of transitional justice research and gender history. The leading question here is the extent to which and manner in which gender played a role within the framework of the trials. It will be examined to what extent gender and gender norms were of significance to investigation, prosecution, defense, and verdicts, to what degree the trials expressed these norms publicly (as via the press), how the gender order during the occupation and post-war eras was reflected in the trials, and what relationship these aspects of gender had with the role of trials in the rebuilding of a democratic Norwegian state.

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