Operation Almenrausch

alpine rose

'Almenrausch' was a German operation against the Norwegian resistance movement, planned and carried out by the German army, other German elements and the Nazi-controlled Norwegian Statspolitiet (13/14 June 1944).

The site of the operation was Valdres, where the banned Norges Kommunistiske Parti (Communist Party of Norway) had established a secret base from which their part of the Norwegian resistance was co-ordinated, and the operation’s goal was the raid and destroy the main encampment in Skriulægeret in Nord-Aurdal and other places where resistance members might be concentrated. About 800 personnel participated in the operation. The leading communist figure, Peder Furubotn, escaped, as did Ørnulf Egge, Samuel Titlestad and Roald Halvorsen. However, the Germans did manage to seize a sizeable quantity of secret documents. Eight communists were arrested, of whom one was later executed. Some 30 other people were arrested during the operation, as the attacking forces also hit non-communist resistance fighters. Most notably, a skirmish occurred in the Tapptjerndalen valley on 14 June, where five Milorg military resistance members were surprised and two were killed.

In June 1944 Furubotn and his men, a party of some 20 men, were on the move. They had left Skriulægeret, and were temporarily installed at Buahaugen and Rabalden in Øystre Slidre. On 13 June two visitors from Oslo had been brought to the camp for a conference with the central leaders. Two of the women, Eli Aanjesen and Bergljot Løiten, walked over to another cabin about 985 ft (300 m) from the main group in order to get more food, and were surprised by German troops and captured. Einar Støreng, who had been out on a mission, was surprised by Germans troops on his way back and tried to escape, but was captured in a little fire fight, whose sound alerted the remaining group at Buahaugen and Rabalden, and they quickly dispersed. A small group of 11 people (including Furubotn, his wife Gina, his daughter Magda and her three-month old baby Vigdis, and seven other men) escaped. Titlestad and Arne Taraldsen were part of the meeting’s security team, armed with a revolver and a machine gun, and the group managed to escape through the forests. The Norges Kommunistiske Parti later established new headquarters, first at Åstad in Vestre Slidre, and later at Hoverud near Fagernes. Among the other persons at the camp, Halvorsen managed to escape and continued his resistance work, first in Oslo and later in Sweden. Olaug Karlsen, Titlestad’s girlfriend and later wife, was captured by the Germans and incarcerated at Grini concentration camp. Her sister Leikny was shot and wounded by the Germans and, taken to a local hospital, later escaped. Asle Grepp, son of Kyrre and Rachel Grepp, was delivered to the Akershus fortress and executed on 10 February 1945.