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 Birger Kristian Eriksen

Birger Kristian Eriksen (17 November 1875 – 16 July 1958) was a Norwegian officer (with the rank of Oberst) who was instrumental in stopping the first wave of Gruppe 5 of the German invasion force outside Oslo.

Oscarsborg Fortress is a coastal fortress in the Oslofjord, close to the small town of Drøbak. The best known part is situated on two small islets. The main artillery batteries are on the island Håøya and smaller batteries on the mainland to the west and east in the fjord and was military territory until 2003 when it was made a publicly available resort island. The fortress is best known for sinking the German heavy cruiser Blücher on 9 April 1940.

In 2014, Oscarsborg Fortress was given protected status, effective from 9 April that year.

Eriksen was the commander of Oscarsborg Fortress when Nazi Germany attacked Norway in the early hours of 9 April 1940. He gained lasting recognition for ordering the fortress under his command to open fire on the vanguard forces of Operation Weserübung and sinking the 14,000 ton heavy cruiser Blücher.

Born on 17 November 1875 to merchant and ship captain Caspar Edvard Eriksen and his wife Jensine Petrine Arentzen in Flakstad in present-day Moskenes in Lofoten, Birger Eriksen left home early, at age 12, to go to Kristiania (as Oslo was known as at the time) to study. Nonetheless, he would return home to Moskenes every summer to visit his mother until she died in 1936, having been a widow for fifty years.

On 21 November 1903 in Vang, Eriksen married Christiane Sæhlie. The married couple had one son and two daughters by 1930.

Birger Eriksen died as a celebrated war hero on 16 July 1958. The funeral service took place at Oslo New Crematorium and the urn with Eriksen´s ashes was buried at Drøbak Church. Following a private initiative and the formation of a committee to honour him, Eriksen´s ashes were exhumed on 4 October 1977 and moved to the Vår Frelsers gravlund cemetery in Oslo. It is a great honour for a Norwegian to be buried in the Æreslunden there.

The final recognition of Eriksen´s efforts, and rebuttal of the early post-war criticisms of some of his actions, took place during the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On 6 May 1995 King Harald V unveiled a statue of Eriksen on the Borggården square at Oscarsborg´s Main Fort, cementing the Colonel´s position amongst the foremost Norwegian leaders of the Second World War.

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