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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 17 May 1911New York, USA
Date of Death 8 March 1994Oslo, Norway  (heart failure)

Mini Bio (1)

On May 17, 1911, as Norway was jubilantly celebrating its Constitution Day, two Norwegian citizens were born in Flatbush, a sector of Brooklyn, New York. They were twins. The boy was Knut Haukelid. He was to become a leader of the Norwegian underground during World War II and is given major credit for blocking the Germans from producing and shipping "heavy water," essential to their objective of developing the atomic bomb. His exploits were depicted in the 1965 movie, "The Heroes of Telemark." The daughter, born to Bjørgulv and Sigrid Haukelid, was never depicted in a movie. Rather, her destiny was to star in movies. Sigrid Guri Haukelid was to become Sigrid Gurie.

At the time the twins were born, their father, Bjørgulv Haukelid, was working as a civil engineer with the New York Subway System, a job he had held since 1902. He left that job when the twins were less than a year old, and the Hauklids set sail for Norway (at the same time the Titanic left for its doomed maiden voyage).

Knut came back to the United States to attend Massachusetts State College, returning to Norway in 1929. He completed his education in the 1930s, attending the Dresden School of Technology and the University of Berlin. He then returned to Norway, and was working for his father's engineering firm, Haukelid og Five, when the Germans invaded the country in April, 1940.

Haukelid evaded the Nazis and became a lieutenant in Kompani Linge (Norway's most successful resistance-group during WWII). Under his command part of the group snuck into the German Heavy Water Plant at Rjukan and blew it up thus setting back German endeavours to produce a product vital to the development of an atomic bomb. Then, when the Germans decided to ship the surviving heavy water they had already stored back to Germany in barrels, Haukelid and his team snuck aboard the ferry which had to haul it across a lake, set a time-bomb on board the ferry timed to blow up at the exact time when the ferry was in the middle of the lake. The plot worked perfectly with the entire German cache of heavy water sinking to the bottom of the lake.

Hitler was stopped from being the first to produce the atomic bomb (a quest that no doubt - had it succeeded - would help the Germans win the war). The successful sabotage by Haukelid and his men gave the United States time to complete their own atomic bomb. In an impressive way the actions of Kompani Linge directly contributed to the end of WW II. Knut Haukelid's wartime deeds have been widely covered. Among the numerous high military awards bestowed on him at the war's end by five grateful nations was the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm, by the United States of America.

Knut graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy in 1948. He served as Major in the Telemark Infantry Regiment, and was later appointed Lieutenant General and head of the Home guard of Greater Oslo. After he retired, Knut often lectured, at home and abroad, on the importance of fostering and supporting resistance forces to serve behind enemy lines in wartime. In 1983, when Vice President George Bush visited in Norway, he invited Knut to a formal dinner at the American Embassy.

In the Spring of 1984, on the 40th anniversary of the sabotage action against the heavy water plant at Vemork, the survivors of the Kompani Linge group who participated in the action were honored at a reception at the residence of the American Ambassador, Mark Evans Austad. Nine of the 12 survivors were present when they were surprised with a gift of cufflinks from President Ronald Reagan, who also sent them a personal letter. They also received letters of congratulations from John W. Vessey Jr., Chief for the American High Command. Representatives of the Norwegian Parliament and the Army were also among those present when Knut Haukelid was singularly surprised and honored with an American passport (having been born in the US).

On Friday, October 18, 1985, Knut Haukelid was honored at the Second Annual Hall of Fame Banquet in Minot, North Dakota. He was one of five people named that night to the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame - again an honor due not only by his deeds but because of his birth in the United States and his holding of dual-citizenship. In later years, Knut and his wife divided their time between winters in Oslo, and summers along the coast at Lillesand, and to visits with children and grandchildren. Perhaps his last public appearance occurred during Charles Kuralt's television tribute to the heavy water saboteurs during the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, Norway. He was taken ill soon after, and died on March 8, 1994.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mike Patton <film@start.no>

Trivia (7)

Twin-brother of Norwegian Hollywood-actress Sigrid Gurie.
Lead the sabotage action against the German Heavy Water production at Rjukan, Norway during WWII, considered by many historians to be the most successfull (and important) act of sabotage during the entire war.
Played himself (together with the rest of Kompani Linge) in the classic Norwegian movie "Kampen om tungtvannet" (1948), detailing the legendary actions that halted the German Heavy Water production in Norway during World War II.
Some say he was portrayed by Richard Harris in "The Heroes of Telemark" (under the name 'Knut Straud'), however Harris' character was more a combination of several different people - Haukelid being one of them. To acknowledge Haukelid they gave the character the same first name.
Haukelid became a lieutenant colonel in the Army Infantry in 1959 and served as colonel and head of Greater Oslo Homeguard from 1966 until his retirement in 1974.
At the time of his retirement, Haukelid was one of only three active lieutenant generals (2 stars) in Norway. The only 3-star general, at the time, was King Olav V.
Wrote his autobiography, "Det demrer en dag" in 1947 (revised edition 1953 under the name "Kampen om tungtvannet").

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