Quisling

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Quisling (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈkʋɪsˈlɪŋ]; English: /ˈkwɪzlɪŋ/) is a term that was most commonly used in reference to fascist and collaborationist political parties and military and paramilitary forces in occupied Allied countries which collaborated with Axis occupiers in World War II, as well as for their members and other collaborators.

The term was coined by the British newspaper The Times in an editorial published on 15 April 1940, entitled "Quislings everywhere" after the Norwegian Vidkun Quisling, who assisted Nazi Germany after it conquered his own country so that he could rule the collaborationist Norwegian government himself. The editorial asserted: "To writers, the word Quisling is a gift from the gods. If they had been ordered to invent a new word for traitor...they could hardly have hit upon a more brilliant combination of letters. Actually it contrives to suggest something at once slippery and tortuous."

The term was used by the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill during an address to both houses of Congress in the United States of America on 26 December 1941. Commenting upon the effect of a number of Allied victories against Axis forces, and moreover the United States’ decision to enter the war, Churchill opined that; “Hope has returned to the hearts of scores of millions of men and women, and with that hope there burns the flame of anger against the brutal, corrupt invader. And still more fiercely burn the fires of hatred and contempt for the filthy Quislings whom he has suborned.”[1] It subsequently entered the language, and became a target for political cartoonists.[2]

The noun has survived, and is still in current use, appearing during 2008 and 2009 in articles in the New York Times,[3] Die Zeit[4] and The Times.[5] In contrast, the back-formed verb to quisle (pronounced /ˈkwɪzəl/), has largely disappeared from contemporary usage.[6] The verb seems to have fallen out of use comparatively quickly, since by early 1944 there was evidence that H.L. Mencken — generally considered to be a leading authority on the common English usage in the United States — was not aware that it already existed.[7] Interestingly, the back-formed verb to quisle has since given rise to a much-less common, and malformed, version of the noun: quisler.[8]

That Quisling's name should be applied to denote the whole phenomenon of collaborationism is probably due to the place of Norway on the list of countries occupied by the Third Reich.[citation needed] Unlike Poland, Norway was considered "Aryan" in Hitlerian ideology, and unlike Denmark it was further off, nearer Britain, and did not share a land border with any territory under German control. Thus Norway was the first country where local, non-German, fascist parties took part in the conquest of their own country after the start of the war. The universality of the term in the English language may be due to the involvement of Britain in the battle for Norway so early in the war.[citation needed]

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