Joachim Ronneberg, Norwegian Resistance Fighter Who Sabotaged Nazi Germany’s Nuclear Weapons Plans, Dies at 99

Joachim Ronneberg, the Norwegian resistance fighter who sabotaged Nazi Germany’s nuclear weapons ambitions during World War Two, has died aged 99.

In 1943, he led a top-secret raid on a heavily-guarded plant in Norway’s southern region of Telemark.

The operation was immortalised in the 1965 Hollywood film Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas.

Ronneberg later worked as a radio journalist and helped raised awareness of the dangers of war among the young.

He told the BBC in 2013 that he only realised the importance of the mission after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

“He is one of our great heroes,” Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg told NTB news agency. “Ronneberg is probably the last of the best known resistance fighters to pass away.”

Who was the last hero of Telemark?
Born in 1919 in the town of Aalesund, Joachim Ronneberg fled Norway after the Nazis invaded in 1940.

The then 21-year-old escaped with eight friends by boat to Scotland, but was determined to return and fight.

Germany at the time needed so-called heavy water – with an extra atomic particle in its oxygen nucleus – in its race against the Allies to produce an atomic bomb.

Large amounts of heavy water, or deuterium oxide, at that time was only made at the Norsk Hydro facility in Rjukan, Telemark.

This made the largest hydroelectric plant of its type a target for the resistance. But a small team tasked with destroying it in 1942 failed.

The following year, Ronneberg chose a team of five other commandos in an Allied operation codenamed Gunnerside.

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