Max Manus — Norwegian Resistance Hero

Today we hear the word “resistance” used often. If you want to learn about someone who understood and lived the meaning of resistance you should meet Max Manus.

Maximo Guillermo “Max” Manus was born on December 9, 1914 in Bergen, Norway.  Manus is famous as a Norwegian resistance fighter during World War II, specializing in sabotage in occupied Norway. He became renowned as a saboteur during World War II.

(You can find numerous books about the resistance movement in Scandinavia at Ingebretsen’s.)

After fighting as a volunteer for Finland in the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939–40, Manus returned to Norway on the day of the German invasion of Norway, April 9, 1940. He worked underground against the occupiers, organizing a resistance movement, producing illegal public propaganda and manufacturing weaponry. He and his comrades tried to assassinate Himmler and Goebbels when they visited Oslo.

His work was effective, and he soon became a wanted man by the Gestapo. He was eventually captured and was injured trying to escape. He had to be treated in the main Oslo hospital. The doctor at the hospital lied to the Gestapo officers, saying Manus needed treatment for a broken back, an injured shoulder and a serious concussion. The truth, however, was that he was only bruised and had a light concussion. After 27 days, with the aid of a nurse, he managed to escape through a second-floor window using a rope. In a dramatic flight, he crossed the border into Sweden.

National Archives of Norway

He escaped to the United Kingdom for training and went back as a saboteur for the Norwegian Independent Company 1, better known as Lingekompaniet. He became a specialist in ship sabotage and, by using Limpet mines, sank ships that were important to the German Kriegsmarine, including the SS Donau on January 16, 1945. The picture to the right is Max Manus on the wreck of the SS Donau. The photograph is from 1952, when Manus was present when the ship was raised again.

Manus ended the war as a first lieutenant (Løytnant).

Max Manus as Crown Prince Olav’s life guard during the return to Norway after the war.

When peace was declared, Manus found himself chosen to be the personal protection officer of the then Crown Prince of Norway on his triumphal parade in Oslo, and then also with King Haakon VII. If a grenade was thrown, Max had orders to jump at it, taking the blow. He later recalled this mission as quite exciting. This was a great honor, and he was lauded as one of Norway’s most resilient and successful fighters, aged only 30 at the time.

He was twice awarded Norway’s highest decoration for military gallantry, the War Cross with sword as well as the Medal of Freedom with silver palm from United States along with numerous other awards.

There is a Norwegian movie about Manus called “Max Manus: Man of War.


Max Manus: Man of War is an explosive, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride and the true story of one man’s heroic actions in the line of duty. Max Manus is a Norwegian resistance fighter involved in liberating his country from the occupying Nazi forces. His ability to carry out sabotage attacks on the Germans with pinpoint precision earns him the reputation as on of Norway’s elite. Despite his numerous triumphs on the battlefront, Manus struggles to come to terms with the loss of his comrade’s lives and the futility of war. Based on true events, this film’s moving storyline and stunning visuals brings to life this epic chapter in World War II history.

You can see a clip of the movie here:


Want to know more? You read an in-depth blog about Max Manus here.