Former FM and current leader of the Labour Party has released a new book, detailing his journey to become the leader of the Norwegian Labour party. He discusses in depth the importance his grandfather had for his political and human development. However, he has been criticised by leading historians for omitting the hard facts about his family’s wealth. They became stinking rich by trading with the Germans during the WWII. Of course every body hastes to add that no wrongdoing has ever been documented, but on the other hand, in post WWII Norway, there was no real appetite for investigating anybody, ref how police officers, ordinary Norwegians as well as card marrying Nazi party member, just could walk away scot free after barging in to Norwegian Jews’ homes, kidnapping them and deporting them from the country without any due process! In fact no investigation was ever conducted into this travesty, so to claim that Støre’s grandpa merely was a clever business man (nowadays he would have failed the basic ethics test), and not a crook, might only be down to nobody actually checking….
lifted from VG+ paywall (google translate)
Støre family’s war history
In his new book does not mention Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre, the grandfather Johannes Gahr significantly increased the wealth of the family business Jøtul during the war.
By Bjorn Haugan, Eirik Mosveen 14th September 2014
The omission is criticized by four central Norwegian war historians – although industry Gahr did nothing illegal or punishable:
Historian Dag Ove Shield has written a book about Jøtul’s history. He says:
– There is no doubt that Johannes Gahr earned good money from the Germans during the war and that it helped to lay the foundation for the family fortune. But to sell and make money on the Germans did many, at least in the beginning of the war, so I think that there should be no reason not to tell, he says.
– Should Minister pulled it forward?
HISTORIAN: Dag Ove Shield.
– Yes, it is always easier to blame someone for discretion male story when you just take the good sides, while failing to take what I write about what happened to Jøtul during the war. He could even have punctured the balloon in his book. I think he should have done it, says Shields, but stresses:
– Not a conscious choice
– I have not found anything that suspect Gahr or Jøtul companies collaborated with the Germans or that it was made such suspicions or cause for war. They went instead for the young girl in Hedmark who had been NS member. Norwegian companies that profited from the war, was not widely pursued. When would largely private sector stalled after the war and it did not Norwegian politicians.
Johannes Gahr was active opponents in Nazi NS during the war. He sat on the main board of the Federation, and protested against the management’s NS-friendly attitude in 1941.
From the spring of 1943 he joined the Industrial Association illicit committee – after that went linked occupying power errand.
He says Jonas Gahr Støre following criticism:
– It was not a conscious decision not to write about what happened during the war. My book is not a book about Jøtul, but my political development. In the story plays my grandfather a role in middle life, which began in 1960, I write about my grandfather, his journey when he grew up, and so I got to know him. It belonged, but I’m writing is not about Jøtul, he says.
– Skim the cream
Minister pointed out that the grandfather took part in a network that was in dialogue with London on how to act during the war. In 1953 got Gahr St. Olav medal.
MAIN MAN: Johannes Gahr had a number of key positions in Norwegian industry, including the precursor to the NHO and especially in the precursor to the NHO’s Association, Norwegian Industry. Here he keeps opening speech as chairman of the meeting which marked the 35-year anniversary of the Industry Association rationalization Office (IRAS) in 1963, where he was a member and chairman from 1944 to 1965 Photo: NTB SCANPIX
In the first chapter of Jonas Gahr Støre’s new book, “In Motion”, he uses some fifteen pages to tell about his close relationship with Johannes Gahr: “Grandpa was the adult person who had the greatest influence on me, beyond the mother and father.”
Gahr took control of the company Kvaerner Ovnsstøperi / Jøtul in 1936, when he sat at 50.2 per cent.
Minister referred in his book to the book of Jøtul’s history, written by historian Dag Ove Shield.
Labour’s new leader cites shield that Gahr was a “rare skilled marketing strategist, yet strong production oriented.”
Minister mentions nothing about the Shield writes about grandfather’s business activities during the German occupation from 9 April 1940 to 8 May 1945:
■ Jøtul more than doubled sales from 1939 to 1941: “In the last years before the war, the annual turnover of just under two million. In 1940 it rose sharply to 3.2 million, and in 1941 the entire 5.1 million kroner. “In the remainder of the war lay sales far above the level prior to occupation.
■ early summer of 1940 «Jøtul had to go over to two shifts to handle the demand.”
■ In the summer of 1941 the Jøtul such as a single order throughout 6000 and furnaces for the German air force – “Luftwaffe” – in Norway.
■ According to Jonas Gahr Støre sold 120 000 Jøtul stoves to Norwegian households during the war and around 20,000 to the German power. It appears in a memo board in Jøtul made in May 1945, said Minister to VG.
■ The Germans stopped the import of essential raw materials for ovnsproduksjonen. Production was threatened, but Gahr took the initiative so that a factory in western instead got deliver these raw materials to industry.
■ Shield wrote the history book of Jøtul In 2003, the company came out of the war “almost debt free. It was hailed as a major force in the face of the postwar period. ”
– There is no doubt that Jøtul skim the cream of a war economy. In such a sense, one might qualify to be called krigsprofitør, says curator Gjølme Ketil Andersen at the Technical Museum VG.
– In good company
But also adds: – It must be said that Jøtul is in good company. This was not uncommon during the war, says the historian.
BI Nydalen sitting historian Harald Espeli, one of the foremost experts on how Norwegian business dealings with the German occupying forces during World War 2.
HISTORIAN: Harald Espeli. Photo: Scanpix
– There is nothing to suggest that Gahr did something different than many other business leaders during the war. Norges Bank On 24 April 1940, under strong pressure from Finance Minister Gunnar Jahn and Management Council, the Germans a blank check to the central bank’s assets. Already at its commencement on 15 April 1940 the Administrative Council made it clear that they would cooperate with the Germans, says Espeli.
He says there is no evidence that someone complained about Jøtul. In other companies, including Orkla the loop works, sent employees complain because they felt that management pushed for that they should produce more. But Orkla was not convicted, says Espeli.
He says the war proceeds were important.
– Gahr made money during the war and caused mostly stand now; He paid the debt so the company came almost debt free out of the war. It was an important basis for the establishment of the family fortune.
There is one respect to showing that Gahr was active for producing further during the war: When the Germans invaded Norway, the Germans stopped the raw materials that the stoves were made.
– The raw materials for the stoves were imported from Sweden, and stopped by the Germans. Gahr headed as possible in the work of ovnsstøperienes Association, to bring up a Norwegian production of raw materials. The parent and the raw materials came from Sauda, so that iron production could continue, he said.
Very few convicted
Espeli says very few business leaders were convicted for war.
– The only group were the so-called brakkebaronene who built barracks for the Germans during the war.
He also believes that the Minister should have written about his grandfather’s life.
– Yes, it surprises me, because he usually draws solid lines. And it Gahr did, most business leaders during the war. I can easily conclude that the war was economically beneficial for Jøtul. This, like much of the Norwegian economy.
– Was Johs. Gahr rich as a direct result of the war and that Jøtul products sold to the German occupying forces?
– The right to say that Gahr was richer by war, says Espeli.
Espeli maintains that Gahr was a member of the Industry Association Board and in that capacity took part in the protest against the working committee NS-friendly attitude in 1941 Gahr was also a member of the union’s illegal committee in the spring of 1943 – after the Federation had been Nazi sympathizers.
HISTORIAN: Kjetil Gjølme Andersen.
– Administrative Council, which was the highest civil authority by the King and the government had fled, went into that one should keep the wheels turning and legitimated thus a close economic cooperation with the occupying power, says Ketil Andersen Gjølme.
– It is a pity
He says he has not read the entire book to the Minister; only chapter grandfather.
Andersen sorry that the Minister jumps over the war years.
– I think it is a pity that he has done it. It would be natural to put it into such a broad description of Johs. Gahr. It is a pity that we do not generally make this part of the story. It fits like not to our collective story, it defies that image we want to have of ourselves as good Norwegians who fight against evil forces. It would have been appropriate to include also the slightly more uncomfortable part of this. It would not do the story of grandfather less credible in my eyes, on the contrary, he says.
Historian Arnfinn Moland is the leader of the Norwegian Resistance Museum in Oslo.
– It would have been deceived by the Minister, and indeed right, to make this point. The grandfather did was not a crime. The question is whether it is wise to remove such an important point, when after all is nothing illegal. This is undoubtedly part of Norwegian history. The war cost huge sums Norway. At the same time that individual firms and individuals could come out violently strengthened, says Moland.
– The crucial point in this context, the term “improper.” The extent to increased production, and the extent to which the surplus was characterized by the fact that you submitted to the occupier, he said.
– Grandpa was intensely anti-NS
Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre denies that he should have written about his grandfather’s war history. He tells of a grandfather who stood up against the Germans.
Controversial HISTORY: Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre had his own book and Jøtul’s history located on the desk when he met VG to be interviewed about his grandfather Johannes Gahr.
– It was not a conscious decision not to write about what happened during the war. My book is not a book about Jøtul, but my political development. In the story plays my grandfather a role in middle life, which began in 1960, I write about my grandfather, his journey when he grew up, and so I got to know him. It belonged, but I’m writing is not about Jøtul. I have read the book to shield the Jøtul, and I did not know there was mention of the grandfather there during the war, which meant that I wrote about it, says Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre.
– Several key historians believe you should have done it?
– I listen to the criticism, a literary criticism of the choices I’ve made in the book. The chapter on maternal grandfather was long and there was more pressure from the publisher to cut than to expand.
He describes his grandfather as follows:
– I agree that it is an interesting question how the business handled the German occupation. I saw that grandpa was intensely anti-NS and they were very critical of those who were NS members. He was a network of leaders who were in dialogue with London on how to act during the war:
– Message of Norwegian business leaders from the government was to keep the wheels turning and the work in progress, says Støre.
– In the history book of the Jøtul, which you refer to in your book, it emerges that they put in extra shifts a few months after the invasion?
– It is mainly due to the increased demand for wood stoves from Norwegian consumers. From what I understand sold around 120,000 Jøtul stoves during the war to Norwegian households and around 20,000 to the German power. Remember that there were 300,000 Germans in Norway as popular products from the Norwegian economy.
– Difficult Balance
He says his experience of his mother’s father was that he worked closely with the Norwegian authorities and undertook a difficult balancing act.
– Remember that this was dramatic times of high demand for wood stoves. Johannes Gahr was never in the Germans’ favor and opposed when the German occupying forces pushed on to take over the factory. My family experienced several times that it was civilian and uniformed representatives of the occupying power now to talk about the takeover. It was something he fought against, as he told it.
– Historian Gjølme Ketil Andersen says your mother did something that others did not and that he did nothing criminal offense, but says, however, that your grandfather was a krigsprofitør?
– I will not participate in a debate on such concepts. I can not see that it adheres reprehensible behavior from Johannes Gahr during the war. He got the Medal of St. Olav in 1953 Jøtul was by his reading, let not the production of war materials and resisted German takeover of the company. I get the feeling that it must have cost a lot. There was also no concept that I recognize, so I got to know my grandfather, even though it is about twenty years before I was born.
– If we ignore characteristics: He made money on the German occupation, it was not illegal, but ought not disregard?
– He continued production of vital products for Norwegian households. That someone made money on the war is nothing new and it happened as I said twenty years before I was born.
He says it is wrong to say that his fortune today is founded on sales to the Germans during the war.
– I have monthly for ten years been confronted by you and other journalists that I am wealthy. I get that question only from journalists, not from AP, where a congress unanimously elected me chairman. Our fortune is the result of tremendous effort and industrial growth for over a century, especially in the postwar years when Norway experienced tremendous growth, he says and adds:
– I’m open about my background – I have written a book about it. And you, the Norwegian people and the Labour Party are familiar with my background: Because of the – or in spite of it – I sit here and am who I am, says Labor leader.
– I describe my grandfather I saw and lived much with that child, not the leader in the mechanical workshop Association. It is true that he was one of the today’s foremost business leaders, but he was not among the largest.
– And so with caution, something I myself experienced. He came from a very sober background, but it is true that he earned a lot of money. What I convey is the little boy’s observations, he says.
– Go ahead
Støre said he is open to contribute to a debate about Norwegian business activities during the war.
– I will not participate in any debate between professionals, based on my grandfather, but I discovered when I have gone through the papers and the material I sit on having written the book, there is a part that can be interesting for historians . I gladly give it to them.
– And it is true that history is the subject I like most, he says:
– So I have respect for that historians go into this. I note me with interest that they themselves say that they have not addressed the role of business during the war. Then I say: Go ahead. But they can not expect that in a book about the 21st century should devote even more space than I do about my ancestry.
Fact: Johannes Gahr Støre
■ Johannes Gahr was supreme chief and owner of industrial company Kvaerner Ovnsstøperi / Jøtul from 1928 to 1953.
■ Kvaerner Ovnsstøperi survived as far as the economic crisis in the late 1920s. Johannes Gahr was central to the development of the company beyond the 30’s.
■ Dag Ove Shields writes in his book about Jøtul that Gahr in 1936 had acquired shares did he put up with 50.2 percent of the shares.
■ “In 1936 had thus Gahr had a decisive influence on the company, and by the time it was he who steered the ship.”
■ Shield writes that Gahr was a very accomplished businessman and networker.
■ He was deputy chairman of the stove foundry association for many years in the 30s.
■ In 1936, he was so attractive that he went to the top mechanical engineering association (MVL), the powerful employers’ association in NAF (now NHO).
■ Gahr sat as chairman of MVL-board throughout the war and was also on the board of NAF in the years before the war.
Fact: large fortune
■ Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre tax asset is currently at 52 million, making him the second richest national politician, by Nikolai Astrup (H).
■ The basis of wealth came from Jøtul, whose family sold the Norcem in 1977, six years before Johannes Gahr died in 1983, aged 88.
■ Parts of the family fortune was in the office building Grenseveien 97 ANS in Oslo, held outside sales in 1977.
■ The online newspaper wrote that the building fall 2011 was sold for 170 million.
■ Jonas Gahr Støre received NOK 34.5 million for the sale of the property:
■ Grenseveien 97 ANS was owned by three family branches: Støre family that the company Tresto A / S was the dominant shareholder with 61 per cent of the shares.
■ The sale gave Støre family 104,100,000 respectively. The money was divided between Jonas Gahr Støre and his two siblings, who sat at 33.33 percent each.