World War II was a time in history that showed many people’s true colors, especially those occupying Europe amid the conflict. While the Nazis of Germany are well known for many of the horrible acts committed during this time, it was the strength of Norwegian Lauritz Sand that served as a beacon of hope during that dark time. His defiance and refusal of the torture by the Nazi guards have made him a legend in Norway, but his history is found to be just as reputable.
Lauritz Sand was native to Norway and had previously served in the Royal Dutch East Indies Army. He served in World War I and has been credited for being one of the first to coin the term “undercover agent.” Sand helped form the XU, an undercover intelligence agency, and was a pivotal part of obtaining information on photographing opposing camps and targets. After WWI had ended, Sand became a successful businessman and chose to live his life abroad. He returned to Norway shortly before the start of WWII, in which he joined the resistance movement upon the German invasion in 1940. He quickly became a leader of a group of resistance fighters, until his betrayal by a German intelligence officer.
German Laura Johannesen had infiltrated the XU in 1941 as a spy for German forces. She alerted Nazi forces of a plan that led to the arrest of Sand while he was carrying classified documents of the resistance. This led to the start of a terrible transition for Sand. He was captured and brutally tortured by his first interrogators leading to fractured arms and legs and wounds to his head and back. Even though this trauma, Sand did not break and gave the Nazis no information.
This process continued during Sand’s time in captivity. He went through a cycle of torture and interrogation, solitary imprisonment, hospital treatment, and more imprisonment. This process went on for over three years but nothing the Nazis threw at Sand would cause him to falter. He continued to hold his ground and give them nothing. This news spread back to his fellow resistance fighters making Sand a symbol of strength to rally around. After realizing that Sand was not going to give in to their methods of torture, the Nazis sentenced him to death by firing squad on May 17, 1945. Just a week before his execution date, the German forces surrendered, meaning Sand would be freed. He had defied odds and his enemies to become a staple of resistance.
Upon his return to Norway, Sand received the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav award. A bust was made with the words “Nei” inscribed on the monument. Meaning “no” there probably is not a better phrase that can be attributed to Sand. A man who showed true bravery in the face of adversity.