Humanitarian organisations have deep roots in Norwegian civil society, dating back to the 19th century. During the interwar years from 1918 to 1939, they experienced a surge in membership. The humanitarian organisations played a vital part in the immediate relief work all over the country during and after the military campaign in Norway in the spring of 1940.
During the German occupation from 1940 to 1945, most organisations went underground in protest against the collaborationist government’s attempt to implement Nazi principles. However, relief organisations like the Norwegian Red Cross continued to perform their tasks openly and according to the humanitarian principles of independence and neutrality.
An ongoing doctoral research project at The Narvik War and Peace Centre and UiT The Arctic University of Norway, is investigating the conditions of humanitarian work in Norway during the Second World War, the agents influencing the distribution of humanitarian resources, and how this sector of civil society emerged from the war with a better reputation and broader membership base than before.