The Story Behind “Snow Treasure”: Did Norwegian Children Smuggle Gold Past Nazi Guards by Sledding Down the Mountains?

By | November 9, 2018

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(Photo credit should read JULIAN STRATENSCHULTE/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1942, children’s author Marie McSwigan published a book called Snow Treasure. The story tells how a group of Norwegian children smuggled the country’s riches…gold bullion…to the safety of a waiting ship. They accomplished this daring feat by simply doing with Norwegian children do best…sledding down hill. McSwigan’s children’s book received worldwide acclaim and was even made into a move in 1968. But is the story true? Did Norwegian children use their sleds to smuggle gold right under the noses of Nazi guards? 

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The Book was Inspired by Actual Events

Although the characters in McSwigan’s Snow Treasure are fictional, the general story was based on actual events. On April 9, 1940, the German’s launched Operation Weserubung, their invasion of Norway and Denmark. The Norwegians, like the French and Belgians before them, were forced to take measures to protect the country’s gold reserves from falling into the hands of the Nazis. Much like the other European countries that came under Nazi occupation during World War II, the Norwegians sought to ship their gold bullions to the United States for safekeeping until after the war was over. The problem was, how do they do this without the Nazi guards noticing?