Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Claus Helberg, 84; Commando Helped Derail Nazis' Atomic Bomb Program

March 16, 2003|From Associated Press

Claus Helberg, a Norwe- gian resistance fighter and member of a commando team that helped stall Germany's atomic weapons program in a daring World War II raid, has died. He was 84.

Helberg died March 6 of a heart attack, newspapers in Oslo reported last week.

The 1943 raid, known as Operation Gunnerside, destroyed the Nazis' heavy water plant near Rjukan, 90 miles west of Norway's capital, Oslo. Germany occupied the country from 1940 to 1945.

The plant could have provided Nazi scientists with the chemical reaction necessary to build an atomic bomb.

The raid was depicted in a 1965 movie, "The Heroes of Telemark," starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris.

After the raid, the nine commandos fled to Sweden and Britain.

Born near Rjukan, Helberg was an avid outdoorsman and guide, leading ordinary citizens and Scandinavian royal families through the country's mountain trails.

On his 80th birthday, he enjoyed a celebratory dinner seated between Queen Sonja of Norway and Queen Margrethe of Denmark.

Before and after World War II, Helberg labored to increase interest in Norway's natural beauty by building hiking trails and huts across the country's mountain plateaus.

He is survived by his wife, Ragnhild. They had no children.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|