The Taber Hall Press

The Taber Hall Press
P.O. Box 159
Marion, MA 02738

Reckless Courage: The True Story of a Norwegian Boy Under Nazi Rule


The skeleton-like figures surrounding him in the
darkness could not understand how this thirteen-year–old
Norwegian boy had been able to get into
the prison camp—or why he would risk his life to
bring them a little food and tobacco.

     While I was recuperating from surgery, visiting nurse Susan Haines Mechler told me about her father’s reaction as a boy in Norway during World War II when he witnessed starved Russian prisoners snatching up bits of horse manure to eat. I asked her to record and write down more about her father’s exploits. Gunnar Haines (originally Høines, in the Norwegian) was terminally ill at the time, and after his death I helped Susan put together a memorial booklet about his life and experiences during the occupation. While working on it, I became intrigued with the importance of Norway in World War II and how little recognition by historians this has received. A good case can be made that Hitler’s decision to invade Norway cost Germany the war and changed the course of history. I believe it did, and my reasons are outlined in the appendix. I could not bear to leave out descriptions of several of the most glorious naval actions in British history as well as some tragic comic aspects of Norway’s defense. Nowhere have I come across the idea that Norway’s monopoly on “heavy water” production adversely impacted German efforts to build an atomic bomb. I believe it was significant, and my thoughts on this are included in Appendix D following the military and naval anecdotes. The exhibits also include a brief history of this unique nation and a description of the Viking Age and the ships that roamed the seas from North America to Baghdad.
     The main story is, of course, about the experiences of a Norwegian family during the occupation and how their teenage son became a thorn in the sides of the Germans. Gunnar Haines left a legacy of courage and compassion. By including historical aspects of the occupation with interesting anecdotes, I hope this book will spread that legacy beyond a currently small circle of family and friends.

William F. Fuller
Marion, Massachusetts
August 2004