distant cousins of war hero Knut Haukelid and his twin sister, Hollywood
actress Sigrid Gurie,
comes the following information on Haukelid.
Bob Coe of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada writes:
He was the leader of a sabotage team of Norwegians who first snuck
into the German Heavy Water Plant at Rjukan and blew it up thus setting
back German endeavours to produce a product vital to the development
of an atomic bomb. Then, when the Germans decided to ship the heavy
water back to Germany in barrels, Knut and his team snuck aboard the
ferry which had to haul it across a lake, set a time-bomb on board
the ferry timed to blow up at the exact time when the ferry was in
the middle of the lake. The plot worked perfectly with the entire
German cache of heavy water sinking to the bottom of the lake.
His singular action gave the United States the time to complete
their own atomic bomb. Hollywood made a movie of it starring Kirk
Douglas entitled, "The Heroes of Telemark." He was born in the U.S.,
and his remarkable sacrifice and courage should be acknowledged by
not only the U.S. but by all the Allied countries for actions which
directly contributed to the end of WW II.
LaVonne Houlton of Modesto, Calif. provides this
Bjørgulv and Sigrid Haukelid were living in Flatbush, Brooklyn,
New York, when their twins, Knut and Sigrid Guri were born, on May
Bjørgulv was a civil engineer with the New York Subway System
for 10 years (1902-1912), and the family returned to Norway shortly
before the twins' first birthday.
Knut came back to the United States to attend Massachusetts State
College, returning to Norway in 1929. He completed his education in
the 1930's, attending the Dresden School of Technology and the University
of Berlin. He then returned to Norway, and was working for his father's
engineering firm, Haukelid og Five, when the Germans invaded the country
in April, 1940.
Knut's wartime deeds have been widely covered. Among the numerous
high military awards bestowed on him at the war's end by five grateful
nations was the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm, by the United States
Knut graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy in 1948. He
served as Major in the Telemark Infantry Regiment, and was later appointed
Lieutenant General and head of the Homeguard of Greater Oslo. After
he retired, Knut often lectured, at home and abroad, on the importance
of fostering and supporting resistance forces to serve behind enemy
lines in wartime.
In 1983, when Vice President George Bush visited in Norway, he
invited Knut to a formal dinner at the American Embassy.
In the Spring of 1984, on the 40th anniversary of the sabotage
action against the heavy water plant at Vemork, the survivors of the
Company Linge group who participated in the action were honored at
a reception at the residence of the American Ambassador, Mark Evans
Austad. Nine of the 12 survivors were present when they were surprised
with a gift of cufflinks from President Ronald Reagan, who also sent
them a personal letter. They also received letters of congratulations
from John W. Vessey Jr., Chief for the American High Command. Representatives
of the Norwegian Parliament and the Army were also among those present
when Knut Haukelid was singularly surprised and honored with an American
He was, after all, born in America.
On Friday, October 18, 1985, Knut Haukelid was honored at the
Second Annual Hall of Fame Banquet in Minot, North Dakota. He was
one of five people named that night to the Scandinavian-American Hall
of Fame — again an honor due not only by his deeds but because
of his birth in the United States and his holding of dual-citizenship.
In later years, Knut and his wife divided their time between winters
in Oslo, and summers along the coast at Lillesand, and to visits with
children and grandchildren. Perhaps his last public appearance occurred
during Charles Kuralt's fine television tribute to the heavy water
saboteurs during the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, Norway.
He took ill soon after, and died on March 8, 1994.
Rolf A. Hoeiberg of
Porsgrunn, Telemark, Norway
details of Haukelid's military career. He notes that Haukelid became
colonel in the Army Infantry in 1959 and served as colonel and head
of Greater Oslo Homeguard from 1966 until his retirement in 1974. Hoeiberg
There is a difference between Army Reserve and Homeguard. The
Norwegian homeguard is armed and operative within a very short time
and will secure the mobilization of the Army reserve in a given case.
points out that at the time of his retirement, Haukelid was one of only
three active lieutenant generals (2 stars) in Norway. The only 3-star
general, at the time, was King Olav, he relates.
in Oslo in 1969, learned of his twin sister's death in Mexico
from an embolism, he, too, suffered an embolism, but recovered.
He was portrayed
in "Heroes of Telemark" by Richard Harris (as Knut
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