Of the many notorious traitors, Vidkun Quisling is the one whose name has entered the English vocabulary as a common word, and has continued its shameful denotation. Someone who is a traitorous puppet of the enemy, or more precisely, someone who aids and collaborates with the enemy, a renegade, is a quisling.
Quisling, bom in 1887 in Fryesdal, Norway, became an army officer, then worked in the diplomatic service. In 1933, he formed his own Norwegian fascist party, Norway’s National Unification Party, but he did not attract many followers. On April 8-9, 1940, Hitler invaded Norway, and Quisling proclaimed himself Norway’s premier.
While serving as the figurehead in this puppet government set up by the Nazis, Quisling committed unspeakable atrocities. He lived in the lap of luxury on an island near Oslo, in a mansion that contained the finest Norwegian art he could steal from the museums. But Quisling was never at ease. He was so nervous for his safety that he had 150 bodyguards and an official taster of all his foods.
Hnally the day of reckoning came. The war ended, and Quisling was arrested immediately, on May 9, 1945. He was charged with treason and
murder, found guilty, and shot by a firing squad on October 24 of that year.
Norway’s laws forbade capital punishment, but the law was changed just to execute Quisling.