As early as 1938 Himmler had ruled that non-Germans of suitable "nordic" origin could enlist in the SS that is to say in the Allgemeine-SS (at that stage the distinction between "civilian" Allgemeine-SS and military" Waffen-SS did not exist). Before the outbreak f war in 1939 only a handful of such fanatic nordics had offered themselves. But with the conquest in 1940 of Norway, Denmark, Holland and Flanders, it was possible to recruit directly among the "nordic" peoples and to set up special units to absorb volunteers from these racially approved regions. Within weeks of the occupation of Denmark and Norway, and SS Standarte (Regiment) Nordland was established in which young men from these two countries could train "for police duties" in their respective homelands.
The SS took over a former French army barracks at Sennheim in Alsace
Alsace-Lorraine was reincorporated into Germany after the defeat of France) and
there the Norwegians, in common with otber western European volunteers, were
put through their initial selection and basic training. Those who passed were then posted on for more advanced instruction elsewhere to Austria in the case of the Norwegians. Recruitment for the Regiment Nordland was intensified in January 1941. On the 13th of that month Quisling appealed over the radio for three thousand volunteers between the ages of 17 and 25 to come forward:
"To help our Germanic brethern fight English despotism."
The response was not encouraging. Volunteers could be numbered only in
hundreds. The age limit was then raised to 40 years. Among those who did
volunteer was Jonas Lie, the chief of the Norwegian Police who, although
strongly pro-German, was not a member of NS. Another volunteer was Axel
Stang, Minister of Sport and Chief of Staff of the Rikshird.
In February 1941 the Nordland moved from Vienna and Klagenfurt in Austria to
Heuberg in northern Germany where a new division of the Waffen-SS.
(the term "Waffen-SS" having come into use some six or seven months previously)
was in the process of being formed. This fresh division was based on the
Germania Regiment of the "Das Reich" Division to which was now added the
Danish-Norwegian Nordland and the Dutch-Flemish Westland Regiments.
A complement of artillery was added to bring the unit to full combat strength. It was now numbered the 5th Division of the Waffen-SS. and given the name "Wiking". It did not see active service as a division until the start of the
campaign against Russia in June 1941 but, in order to provide some of its "green"
personnel with combat experience, a number of individuals were secunded to the "Das Reich"
Division which took an active part in the invastion of Yugoslavia in April 1941.
Jonas Lie and Axel Stang were among those who took part in their brief and successful campaign.
Both returned with the Iron Cross 2nd Class.