Norway vs Spain Won Olympic bronze and survived Nazi rule
Spain will play at the home of Norway football legend Asbjorn Halvorsen when they face Norway at the Ullevaal Stadion on Saturday night.
Halvorsen was in charge of the Norwegian football team that won a bronze medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, knocking Germany out of the competition in the process.
Adolf Hitler and many of his Nazi leaders attended the quarter-final between Halvorsen‘s Norway and Otto Nerz‘s Germany, stating that his nation would win gold.
With Norway viewed as a weaker opponent and the prospect of the reigning World Cup winners Italy in the semi-finals to come, Germany opted to rest several players for the quarter-final.
With Hitler watching on, Norway took the lead through Magnar Isaksen, a Jewish surname.
Nerz‘s side came forward in search of an equaliser, yet Norway scored a second with seven minutes to go to secure an historic 2-0 win, although some Spanish outlets reported a 2-1 scoreline.
Hitler was furious and humiliated. Nerz left his role as Germany coach and was replaced by Sepp Herberger, who would go on to win the 1954 World Cup.
Halvorsen, who’d played in Germany with Hamburg, winning two league titles in 1923 and 1928, returned home to Norway.
While at Hamburg, Halvorsen worked alongside Otto Harder, who later became a Nazi chief in concentration camps.
German troops invaded Norway in 1940 and Halvorsen became one of the many Norwegians to be detained in concentration camps.
His crime was for opposing that Norwegian sport would remain under the control of the Nazi government in Berlin.
Halvorsen spent time in Mollergata, Grini, Natzweiler and Nackarelz concentration camps before being found in a prisoner’s sell in 1945.
“We found a man in a concentration camp in spring 1945,” French soldiers recalled.
“He was more alive than dead. He didn’t weigh more than 40 kilograms. He was suffering from typhoid fever, pneumonia, rheumatism, fever, malnutrition… They had sent him to the terminal zone.”
It was Halvorsen who, against all odds, had survived the ordeal. He returned to Norway and became president of the Norwegian Football Association until 1955, when he died of health-related issues.
On Saturday, Spain play at the home of a man who guided Norway to their greatest ever footballing achievement.