In a recent newspaper article about a Jewish man concealing his identity in Norway during the five years of Nazi German occupation, a reference is made to a "secret Communist group" among German troops stationed outside Oslo. The article in Norwegian is here, the relevant passage is

Av landhandlerkona Johansens erindringer fremgår det også at flyktningene faktisk fikk hjelp fra to av okkupasjonsmaktens soldater. Østerrikeren Joseph Kraval, leder av en hemmelig kommunistisk gruppe blant troppene i Maridalen, klarte sammen med en kamerat å smugle koks ut av leiren om natten og bære den gjennom skogen til hytta.


In the recollections of the shopkeeper's wife, Johansen, it emerges that the refugees actually obtained help from two of the soldiers of the occupying power. The Austrian Joseph Kraval, leader of a secret communist group among the troops in Maridalen, managed, together with a friend, to smuggle coke (fuel) out of the camp at night and carry it through the woods to the cabin.

The shopkeeper, Johansen, is earlier in the article said to have been a member of the Communist resistance, so his wife might have been prone to exaggerating the Communist-ness of the German soldiers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found no relevant Google results for the name of the soldier. Wikipedia's article on German resistance to Nazism focuses on resistance among the elite and among those staying in Germany.

Does any documentation exist of Communist resistance groups in occupying German armies (in any country) during the Second World war? I would be interested both in information about successful ventures (also small-scale like in the example above) and in groups that were outed during the war.

I am primarily interested Communist resistance not driven by Soviet interference, though I realize the difference may be hard to tell. I do expect the influence of Soviet agents in Norway 1940-45 to have been very limited, though.

4 Answers 4


The Red Orchestra (so code-named by the Gestapo, in contrast to the Black Orchestra, which were German conservatives against Hitler) were among the most famous communist resisters of Hitler and the Nazis. Some of their members, such as Harro Schulze-Boysen, were military soldiers or (in Schulze-Boysen's case) Luftwaffe-men operating in occupied eastern Europe. Schulze-Boysen was credited by the Gestapo with causing the deaths of a number of Gestapo spies during the Spanish Civil War because, as the Gestapo later found out, he was passing on their names to the leftist soldiers in the war (see Canaris by Heinz Hoehne, New York: Cooper Square Press, 1999, 241-2).

Schulze-Boysen and fellow conspirators Hans and Hilde Coppi were working in Poland in 1942 when the Oberkommando des Heeres (Army High Command), having deciphered their secret communications with Moscow, arrested them. Boysen, the Coppis, another co-conspirator, Arvid Harnack, and Harnack's wife were all put to death.

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    Thanks! While this does not mention German-occupied Norway, it does answer (after almost two years!) the question I asked. Impressive. I do not read German effortlessly so I got some more background from the English Wikipedia here.
    – Jørgen
    Oct 19, 2016 at 9:14
  • No problem! Oh my goodness, I didn't realize you had asked your question in 2014. Glad to help!
    – andrew
    Oct 20, 2016 at 20:05

Certainly in the later stages of WW2 a lot of Soviet prisoners of war were drafted into the Wehrmacht, given a choice of signing up and fighting for Germany or being sent to the death camps.

Many of them in turn ended up as garrison troops in low priority areas like Norway where questionable loyalty under fire from allied forces was less of a problem.
It's more than likely that quite a few of them were loyal communists and would have remained so, they after all were survivors of the purges of the 1930s and thoroughly indoctrinated with Stalinist mantra from childhood.

As such it wouldn't surprise me if some of them at least kept up contacts with local communist (and most of those were under Soviet control directly or indirectly) groups in the areas where they were stationed.

But do remember that there was very little communist influence in Europe left from the 1920s onward (and into the 1990s at least) that was not controlled by the USSR either directly or through proxies like Bulgaria. So the last paragraph doesn't really make much sense.
Some of those groups may have thought they were not under Soviet control, but only if their controllers hid the identity of their benefactors and controllers from those groups, which might have happened in cases where the Soviets were less than certain about the loyalty of the group to the Soviet cause.

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    Do you have any sources for your claim in the first para? Oct 25, 2014 at 10:20
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    Thank you for your opinion - I would however like sources for your first, second and fourth paragraph before upvoting. I have never heard of Soviet PoWs being stationed as troops in Norway (only as inmates of PoW camps). I agree that it is possible to disagree about the extent of "independent" communism in the West during the cold war, but Communists got 12 % of votes in the 1945 Norwegian election, and 26 % in France, so clearly there was some popular support for Communism in the West.
    – Jørgen
    Oct 25, 2014 at 14:46
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    Into the 1990s is somewhat exaggerated, see Eurocommunism, plus some communist parties were aligned with China rather than the Soviet Union.
    – gerrit
    Nov 11, 2015 at 15:27
  • Anthony Beevor write in the Battle forthe Normandy that many eastern european draftees wheretasked with guerding the atlantic wall, mayn would shoot their german officers and surrender once the allies arrived - though I would not count that as communist resistance
    – mart
    Feb 19, 2021 at 8:48
  • re. thhe last: I pretty sure these where not Soviet POW!
    – mart
    Feb 19, 2021 at 8:58

There were a lot of German soldiers who surrendered because of their convictions and among them were many Communists. A soldier with Communist convictions most likely would surrender rather than organize resistance.

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    Surrender to whom? I think the OP was talking about German soldiers in Western/Northern Europe mostly where they could not surrender to anyone. I downvoted (since in its present form the answer is misleading imho) but will be happy to reverse if you change the answer. Oct 18, 2016 at 11:27

I saw a documentary. In there it was said the soviet union gave nazi Germany 1 million soviet soldiers. Therefore, it may be obvious that after Germany invaded Russia, some resistence was built by those delegated soviet soliders. I dont know where those soviets soldiers were stationed :(

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    I believe you should be more specific with your sources. Dec 23, 2014 at 16:04
  • The soviet story documentary :)
    – XWorm
    Dec 24, 2014 at 16:38
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    Probably you misunderstood. Many Soviet citizens who lived under German occupation joined the German forces, mostly as auxiliaries or police. The documentary most likely was referring to them. Oct 18, 2016 at 6:46
  • Alas, I felt I had to downvote because the answer as it stands is misleading. Oct 18, 2016 at 11:28

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