|The early years at home
were secure and comfortable. Father, a government official,
played the violin, mother accompanied on the piano.
Sister Helen excelled at her piano lessons - in fact
Helen excelled at most things and Arild often felt a
bit intimidated when he didn’t reach her high
Still he enjoyed violin lessons until a disagreement
with his teacher put an end to his promising career.
Perhaps this was the first indication that he preferred
to lead rather than follow. Relatives often joined the
family for musical evenings and friends were always
welcome as were summer visits to their cabins in the
Oslofjord. The family idyll shattered when Arild's father
died in 1936 and shortly afterwards the family moved
the few kilometres from Frogner to Majorstuen; slightly
further from the sea but nearer the ski-slopes.
At 15, Arild, now “head of the family”,
found to his own surprise that he was fairly practical and
adaptable. He could cope with most things. He found school
boring however, probably because learning came easy, there
didn't seem to be much competition at school and because
his sister, was always so much quicker and brighter than
him. He claims that these factors made him lazy; he once
borrowed a paper from Helen and submitted it as his own
and received a lower mark than his sister.
back he claims not to have had any special talents
and only later realized that he had a marvellous memory.
He could read a book and then write out most of it
from memory afterwards. No wonder he was bored and
no wonder in later life he could lecture and lead
meetings without notes.
In retrospect he believes that
he worried about family circumstances, about his mother
and sister, and that he had an inferiority complex.
The first is understandable but inferior is hardly
the word we would use in light of his later development.
Maybe it was as an active boy scout that he lost this
inferiority and discovered his talent for leadership
and organisation? Certainly he was greatly influenced
by the scoutmaster and as troop leader he became even
more familiar with and fond of challenges and the
attractions of outdoor life.
days were mostly spent outdoors on the Oslofjord where
kayak and sailboat became the main activities. Winter
outdoors, for people who grew up in the west side
of Oslo, invokes almost a ‘joint memory.’
In the days before two-car families, almost everybody
headed for the tram stop at Majorstuen to join the
queues that started early. Skis had to be fastened
onto the outside of the tram before one could squeeze
into a packed compartment for the trip to Frognerseteren,
the gateway to Nordmarka. From Frogneseteren the sky,
or rather the distant horizon was the limit –
1600 square kilometres crisscrossed with small paths
for walking in summer and skiing in winter.
was a playground for Arild and his friends. They never
felt better than when on skis – Arild was better
than most – but all had the ambition to ski for
Norway in a few years. Not content with ‘simply’
skiing, however, these boys practised an early form
of ‘extreme’ sport– down ‘impossible’
slopes, ditto on one ski, ditto again in the dark. Today
they would have used ski-boards and practised freestyle.
Life wasn’t only sailing and
skiing however and as the thirties drew to a close
the dark clouds gathering over central Europe began
to cast shadows over Norway. At school nothing had
changed except that the prospect of university grew
clearer and career choices loomed.
Arild thought about being an engineer, or a doctor
perhaps? Sister Helen had studied in Germany and was
influenced by a pacifist teacher – Arild’s
only pre-1940 memory of contact with Norway’s
In 1939 Arild had begun studying economics
at Oslo University. Today he doesn’t know why he changed
his mind about being an engineer or a doctor. Perhaps it
was because studying for both these disciplines meant leaving
Oslo where his life revolved around family, friends and
sports activities – and, of course, the new, almost
sinister excitement surrounding the progress of the war.
The war grew in intensity as the new decade
dawned but Norway hoped to remain neutral. Everything seemed
normal as many Norwegians made their annual Easter trek
to the mountains. Arild’s group headed for Hemsedal
for long days of cross-country skiing and the more exciting
‘extreme’ challenges away from the well-marked
trails. There, one day was one more ‘impossible’
slope. Nobody noticed that the surface snow had melted,
making the run truly impossible. One of Arild’s skis
smashed into a rock and that was the end of his Easter break.
A multiple fractured ankle terminated his ski ambitions
and has plagued him ever since. After several operations
at a hospital in Oslo he awoke one morning to the drone
of aircraft and the thunder of gunfire. It was April 9,
The attack came as no surprise to
a few and a big surprise to most. A daring initiative by
the commander of a fort in the Oslofjord sank the German
cruiser ‘Blücher’ that carried elite troops
whose objective was to capture the King and members of the
Government and Parliament. Similar daring political initiative
in Oslo organised the escape of all these ‘objectives’
– and they took the gold reserves of the country with
them. Thousands of Oslo inhabitants left their homes seeking
safety in the countryside, away from the expected bombings
and battles. Sections of the disorganised Norwegian military
fought heroic battle in central and northern Norway as they
awaited assistance from the allies. On June 7th the Royal
Family and major government figures escaped by sea to England
and after an abortive allied landing at Narvik, the spent
Norwegian troops were forced to surrender on June 10th.
The German invasion of Norway was over – but their
fight for control of the Norwegian people had just begun
– and would never be accomplished.
In Norway there had always been a hard core
of pro-German sentiment and it was natural that a certain
percentage of the population should rally around Quisling’s
flag of ‘national socialism’. It was equally
natural that, given the independent character of the average
Norwegian, the majority would oppose the invaders and their
local collaborators. At first the signs of opposition were
slight and speculative; wearing a red bonnet, (red for Norway),
a paper clip attached to a lapel (we hold together) or a
matchstick stuck in a buttonhole (we are ready to strike).
Initially the Germans tried the ‘silk glove’
approach but the mailed fist soon appeared when the deep
animosity of the men and women in the street, and the growing
effectiveness of the small, independent and diversified
resistance groups became apparent. These groups were spontaneous
and instinctive responses, first to the invasion, and second
to the shock and dismay experienced when the Royal Family,
Government officials and military commanders escaped to
England. Loosely organised and initially with no central
organisation the groups showed their resistance through
‘normal’ democratic channels – strikes,
petitions and protests. Democracy however, wasn’t
a strong card in the Nazi deck and soon it became obvious
that any kind of resistance would have to be ‘illegal’
On April 10th the hospital had to be evacuated.
Arild, with a full-length leg cast, joined his mother and
sister at the house of relatives in Slemdal on the outskirts
of the city. These relatives, with three children, had,
in turn, fled to the safety of the peaceful countryside
north of Oslo. On their return two weeks later, Arild remained
with this family when his mother and sister returned to
Majorstuen. One of his two small cousins remembers this
tall, handsome young man: “I was six years old, I
sat on his knees as he taught me to tell the time and I
was sure I was in love with him”.
Until July, when the cast was finally removed,
Arild had much time to think about the future. What would
happen, would it be school as usual, what about exams, would
there be ‘peace’ or would the allies try to
reclaim Norway from the Germans. Tverboven, the new German
High Commissioner, though claiming that the Germans would
never have broken Norway’s neutrality had it not been
for the threats from England, warned that the future of
Norway depended upon the attitude of the population.
The attitude of Arild and his friends was
quite clear; they would never accept the German occupation.
Right from the start they felt that they must show their
resistance in one form or another. If only they knew how.
The situation was frightening but most of them felt no fear
– only excitement. They were at that age where anything
was possible, they were invincible – and as the brutal
nature of the occupation became clear – full of hate;
“We’ll show those devils”. Because of
his broken ankle, hospitalisation and convalescence, Arild
was unable to join ‘the boys in the woods’ in
the fighting that followed the landings on April 9. This
made him even more anxious to take part in some form of
resistance. His first thoughts, when his ankle began to
heal, were to begin training for the struggle that he knew
must come. Friends who could trust one another formed a
network. Training, exercises and planning began –
partly in Vestmarka but mainly at Grimsøen, the summerhouse
and scene of so many boyhood adventures.
But this was no boyhood adventure. This
was deadly serious and although none of the gang had any
military experience, they had a good idea of what had to
be done. During the autumn of ’41 and the winter and
spring of ’42 they taught themselves hand-to-hand
fighting, weapon use (without any real weapons), and strategic
thinking. After a while they made contact with London and
others in Milorg. (Military Organization). Arild assumed
a leading role, obtaining written material and other necessities
for their secret training.
This training was as important to them as
their studies, and their anti-German ambitions were fuelled
by what they could read in the national newspapers:
Thursday 26 September. 1940
“A turning point in Norwegian
history – Sensational speech by Reichskommisar Terboven.
13 Ministers constituted, all previous parties banned”
and ”The Royal Family has no political relevance and
will not return to Norway”.
Dagbladet - Friday
27 September 1940
”Quisling’s speech –
New Regime. Norwegians to be organized in voluntary associations”.
Tidens Tegn - Wednesday
11 December 1940
”School Inspectors fully support
Nationen - Tuesday 25 February
”Ten Norwegians sentenced to
death by the German War Court in Bergen – for spying
missions from England.
Morgenposten - Monday 7 April 1941
”Demonstrations on April 9th
The entire Norwegian press was controlled
by the Germans and it was obvious to everyone in the resistance
movement that counter-information from the Allies was vitally
important. Illegal newspapers flourished and during the
summer and autumn of 1941 Arild got the opportunity to participate.
A friend of his sister was in contact with ‘somebody’
in the ‘newspaper business’. He asked Arild
if he would be willing to distribute illegal newspapers.
This was, of course, top secret, and Arild never knew who
the contact was. Arild himself should enlist three other
reliable friends and in this way the organization would
be built up, similar to what we today call a ‘pyramid’.
This was perfect for Arild and he said enthusiastically,
With Arild as leader and his friends
Claes Berg and Jens Grüner-Hegge as equal partners
the group built up a network that distributed a steadily
increasing number of illegal newspapers. Their success
encouraged them to greater heights – why not
start their own news service? In the autumn of 1941
the Germans had confiscated all radios but many ‘normal’
Norwegian families had illegal receivers hidden away
in lofts, cellars and outhouses. Getting news from
London was comparatively easy.
Their first ’newspaper’
was printed in a loft over the garage behind the house
at Parkveien 51 where Grüner-Hegge lived. This
was also the place where the link to Jens’ younger
brother, Rolf Grüner-Hegge, led to the collapse
of the group (more on this later).
To begin with they had only an old, well-used
stencil machine that couldn’t handle more than 300
copies. Paper and ink were also difficult to come by. They
managed to get these supplied through the organization,
but they had to resort to theft to obtain better stencil
The first was stolen from the Ministry of
Supply. Later a new, and much better machine,
was ’borrowed’ from an official office situated
in Frydenlundsgate, Bislet. Arild says: ”I’ll
never forget that cycle trip through Oslo’s streets
with a stolen stencil machine balancing on the baggage-rack.
We expected to be stopped at any minute”.
The distribution network grew steadily,
reaching a peak in the spring of 1942 of several thousand
copies. In addition to two weekly newsletters the group
printed a fortnightly newspaper ‘Our Land Norway’,
with a drawing of the Norwegian flag dominating the front
cover. The good connection with ‘the organization’
continued in the form of financial support as well as ink
and paper. Arild’s group was not alone: many similar
illegal newspapers sought contact with London and assistance
from the growing ’organization’.
In early spring 1942, in utmost secrecy,
a meeting was arranged in the Gressbanen home of the owner
of a printing works. The object of the meeting was to organize
an overall control of the illegal newspapers in order to
avoid confusion and unnecessary work. All the participants
at the meeting wore hoods to protect their identity.
Secrecy and discretion were imperative because
the production and distribution of illegal newspapers was
an extremely hazardous undertaking. The Germans knew very
well that the information in the newspapers helped to uphold
the moral and resistance of the Norwegians. Anyone caught
producing or distributing illegal newspapers were imprisoned
– or worse:
Nationen - Thursday 10 August:
“Norwegian citizen sentenced to death...
the convicted man printed numerous copies of anti-German
propaganda and distributed them to a large number of people.”
In February ’42 the group moved its
activities from Parkveien 51 to a cellar under the church
at Ris. The priest was a brother of the printing works owner.
The work never ceased to be exciting – would they
be able to hide their activities well enough? Not content
with the natural threats, copies of each newspaper were
sent to the National Police and other suitable opponents
– just to irritate!
Another move, this time from the church
to Arild’s room at his apartment on the sixth floor
at Gardeveien 2C. This was not a good place and they soon
got permission to use a cellar under the entrance to the
Arild will never forget certain exciting
experiences: ”I was on the Holmenkollen tram with
a suitcase full of pamphlets on street fighting. German
soldiers and Norwegian sympathisers were all around me.
I felt sure that the suitcase looked suspicious and I expected
that at any minute I would have to make a run for it. But
all went well...”
But not all went well. Jens and his younger
brother Rolf shared a room. It was almost impossible to
avoid Rolf finding out that big brother Jens was involved
in some form of illegal activity. Rolf himself had come
in contact with a network of distributors. He, and three
other 16 year olds, thought it exciting to fool and challenge
the Germans and their Norwegian co-operators. The youngsters
knew that they were treading on dangerous ground but just
didn’t realize all the implications of their activities
until one of them made a mistake – and then everything
0145 May 7 1942
Rolf Grüner-Hegge was sleeping but awoke when the light
in the room was switched on. His father’s voice said:
” It’s the police, they want to speak to you
son” ”Where did you get the illegal newspapers”
asked a strange man who bent over the bad. “I don’t
know anything about newspapers”, replied Rolf.
At first, Jens thought that the police were
after him and he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw
that his brother was their prey – a younger brother
he didn’t see again until after the war. In spite
of his youth, Rolf was imprisoned and brutally tortured
by the Gestapo.
Rolf’s arrest made Arild, Jens and
Claes afraid for their own activities. They went into hiding
but continued their illegal work. Shortly afterwards, however,
Claes and Jens were arrested and Arild knew that it was
only a question of time before he would be next.
Claes and Jens sat in their separate cells
and felt certain that Arild had made his escape to Sweden.
But Arild hadn’t left. “No, I thought running
was the easy way out, there were many loose ends after our
illegal activities – loose ends that should be obliterated.”
The first stop was at Claes’ home to get a radio,
not only to avoid it being discovered if the house was raided
but because Arild needed a radio. All the equipment in the
crypt under Ris church was moved to Arild’s home at
Gardeveien 2c where his mother had lived alone since Arild
had gone underground.
Two new friends had joined Arild after
Rolf and Claes were arrested and the printing continued
in the cellar at Gardeveien 2c. The new group built up a
larger and more professional distribution network. ”Yes,
it was challenging to take chances and to fool the Gestapo
and their Norwegian stooges, it was tonic both for the spirit
and body” said Arild, and adds: ”but I was careful
– every time I had to visit Gardeveien I telephoned
first to hear if the coast was clear.”
The Gestapo, however, couldn’t be
fooled all the time. One day, just after Arild had spoken
to his mother, the telephone rang again and Mrs Walder heard
“a hoarse voice” ask to speak to Arild. She
replied that he wasn’t there and she didn’t
know where he was. But the voice continued – ”you
must put me in contact with him, I’m one of his colleagues,
this is a matter of life and death. Where can I meet him?
You must help me.”
Mrs Walder was convinced. ”He’s
coming here soon and I’ll tell him you called”.
||Shortly afterwards, Arild
unsuspectingly put his cycle outside the entrance to
Stairway C i Gardeveien 2 and took the lift up the sixth
floor. As he opened the door of the lift a man jumped
in front of him pointing a pistol. The man told Arild
that he was under arrest and ordered him to go quietly
down the steps with his hands up. The man spoke in broken
Norwegian. On the fifth floor Arild was told to stop
and the man began to put handcuffs on him. Arild protested
saying that he would go quietly and would rather avoid
all the neighbours seeing him led away in handcuffs.
He tried to act naive, as though he
didn’t quite realize the seriousness of the
situation, and why he had been arrested. The man put
the handcuffs away and they continued down the stairs.
Arild figured that the man, one of the low Gestapo
thugs, was as scared as he was. He also thought it
probable that the pistol’s safety catch was
on because the worst thing that could happen was that
the man had to return to his superior and report that
Arild had been killed.
If this happened, there would be no further
unravelling of the resistance network. ’He has a partner”
thought Arild. They often worked in pairs and probably there
was a car close by, parked so that it didn’t invite
suspicion or warn the prey. The man pushed Arild through
the entrance to the building.
As they rounded the corner, Arild noticed a group of people
at the end of the block. “Here and now” thought
Arild, who whipped around and swung his fist as hard as
The man was smaller than Arild so the punch caught him on
the top of his head, knocking him to the floor where he
fell against a sharp corner. There was no sign of the gun
and Arild had no time to look for it. He ran towards the
corner where he had seen the people standing, thinking that
the man wouldn’t shoot in that direction. From here
it was 15 meters to the next corner and Arild was running
for his life. Around the next corner Arild heard the first
shot and a bullet whistled by. Either the man he had knocked
down, or his partner, was after him. Whoever was chasing
him had the choice of stopping to take careful aim or of
running and shooting wild. It seemed that he chose the second
course. After each shot Arild saw a spurt of cement dust
on the entrance wall in front of him. From here to the next
entrance was 70 meters with no cover. ”If only I could
reach my cycle” thought Arild. He was probably running
faster than he could have cycled, but by now he was almost
exhausted. Another pursuer appeared as Arild ducked into
the neighbouring stairway and ran up to the third floor.
He rang the bell on the nearest door.
A small, elderly lady opened up but the sight of Arild scared
her and she tried to close the door again. He pushed by
her, stormed through the apartment and out onto the balcony.
From here he strode over to the neighbouring balcony, and
so on, pushing aside plants and shades, till he came to
an apartment in his own Stairway C. He banged on the balcony
door. Another startled lady let him in, he raced to the
window on the other side of the room, looked out and saw
one of his pursuers waiting below.
|He spun around and rushed
back the way he had come; from balcony to balcony back
to the lady he had terrified in the first apartment,
back through the apartment, out the door and down the
stairs. By the entrance stood one of his pursuers. Back
up the stairs again, rang both bells on the doors on
the first floor. The one that opened first was to the
apartment at the end of the block. He threw himself
inside, went through the door to the balcony, swung
himself over the railing and dropped down the two meters
onto the pavement. He sprinted along the path that he
had so unsuspectingly cycled along in what seemed like
only an instant ago.
From behind he heard ”Stop thief,
stop thief” – he was being chased again –
but now on open streets – down toward the tram sheds
at Majorstuen. He slipped into an open door at one end of
the long building, sneaked between the silent trams, came
out of a door at the other end, and hopped over a low fence.
He felt that his heart would burst as he ran down Slemdalsveien.
Luckily, outside a chemist shop, he found an unlocked bicycle
and in no time was peddling full pelt down Kirkeveien.
”They’ll follow me in a car”
he thought as he thanked his lucky stars that he knew this
neighbourhood better than most. Munthesgate was a narrow
street leading into Kirkeveien just before the main entrance
to the Vigeland Sculpture Park – a street that he
knew was closed to traffic by an old iron barrier. If he
reached this street they would not be able to follow him.
He swung into Munthesgate, speeded down the narrow street
and at last felt he was almost out of danger.
He knew there was a ‘safe house’
at the corner of Rådhusgaten and Øvre Slottsgate
and fifteen minutes later he burst into the office, collapsed
on a chair and heaved with exhaustion, unable to say a word
for several minutes. A bullet had ripped open one side of
his jacket but he had not noticed it during the chase. He
was unharmed and he was safe. The date was June 19, 1942.
Experienced friends and colleagues took
care of him. First they dyed his hair blond. Then, equipped
with glasses and new clothes he was so changed that his
own sister didn’t recognize him in the street a few
In another ’safe house’, at
a family in Nobelsgate, he lay low until identity papers
and a travel pass for the Elverum area were forged. One
day in the beginning of July 1942, Kaare Steen, alias Arild
Walder crossed the border into Sweden.*
At this time, the local law enforcement
officials in Sweden were more pro-German than pro-Norwegian
and they questioned all who crossed the border. They were
most interested in knowing the route taken by the ‘fugitives’
and who had helped them. Naturally no Norwegian would answer
such questions but not all were imprisoned as Arild was
when he got to Karlstad. It was 10 days before the Norwegian
Embassy got him out – after they had received a report
from the resistance movement in Norway. ”It was a
happy day.” Arild Remembers.
* The section from ‘In Hiding’
is taken from the book ‘Gestapo henter deg om natten’
by Rolf Grüner-Hegge. The book is recommended for all
who are especially interested in the Nazi resistance by
Ever since the German invasion of Norway,
a regular stream of Norwegians had been crossing the border
into neutral Sweden. Many of them were wanted by the Gestapo
for ’illegal’ activities in Norway, others belonged
to minority groups, afraid for their lives under the German-controlled
regime. Most of the young escapees were anxious to continue
their journeys to a place where they could fight against
the Germans. But first they had to spend some time in a
transit camp. Arild immediately tried to get over to England
but to no avail. Finally he made his way to a Norwegian
enclave in Uppsala where he could, at least, continue his
studies in Social Economics that he had started in Oslo
University the previous autumn.
At that time his studies, and those of his
friends, were interrupted by the illegal resistance work.
Now his almost constant efforts to get out of Sweden didn’t
allow much time for studying either. None of his efforts
was successful and almost in desperation he even tried to
get help from the Russian Embassy.
by and Arild saw the prospect of a frustrating Christmas
in exile. His 21st birthday was on December 29 and on
that date a notice in ’Aftenposten’ proclaimed
that Arild Walder had forfeited his Norwegian citizenship
“because of traitorous activities”. It is
hardly necessary to ad that there was absolutely no
problem in reinstating his citizenship in 1945.
The loss of his citizenship didn’t bother him
but during the winter his health declined and early
the following year his doctor diagnosed pleurisy.
Arild didn’t take this too seriously and after
a short stay in hospital he insisted that he was well
enough to be discharged. Three weeks later he was back
– and this time there was no doubt about the seriousness
of his illness.
17 May in Sweden
After a while he was transferred to a sanatorium
at Örnsköldsvik, where he was compelled to do
no more than rest and relax. By now he was practically resigned
to his fate when an unexpected letter arrived from the Norwegian
Embassy. His school records and recommendations from the
‘organisation’ had finally brought results:
he had been chosen for ”transfer” – to
Canada for pilot training. His doctors were not sure that
he was fit enough, he was still convalescing, and had to
take it easy. But Arild was adamant and on his own responsibility
he went to Stockholm to report for duty. “Unfortunately
I didn’t pass the physical. Finally realizing how
ill I really had been made a deep impression on me. Now,
at best I was in convalescence.”
All hopes of combat were dashed and Arild concentrated on
local affairs. The war drew to a close and finally it was
over – what a fantastic experience! All that remained
now was to bring things back to normal. The Norwegian students
in Sweden were set to work and Arild became a guide for
the many Norwegians who were anxious to get home to Norway.
He travelled with them, checked their papers and assisted
these involuntary expatriates – many of whom were
disoriented and confused. These trips kept Arild busy during
May and June and then it was his turn to return to friends
and family in Norway.
Peace – and back
In the autumn of ’45 he took the first
section, Social Economy at the University of Oslo and completed
his studies in ’48 with a good laud in the final examination.
A sojourn in London at the London School of Economics could
not hope to compensate for his lack of participation in
the final years of the war but the experience at the LSA
gave him valuable intellectual and academic insight.
Right after graduation, Arild began to work
at the Næringsøkonomisk Forskningsinstitutt
(Business Economics Research Institute). His main task was
to analyse current politics and to make suggestions for
alternative solutions. The results of this work were published
in a series of pamphlets. It was an exciting and interesting
project. After 5 years at the NF he was engaged (head-hunted
we would call it today) as permanent secretary for Joakim
Lemkuhl, and responsible for reports on conditions in Norway.
He was also engaged in tax questions especially with reference
to the process of changing company accounts in connection
with the reorganisation from private to publicly held companies.
When Managing Director Kaare Petersen
i Den Norske Bankforening (The Association of Norwegian
Banks) was looking for a secretary/advisor, the choice fell
on Arild. His activities here, lectures, analysis, statistics
and research were right up his street. Street that led to
major changes in Arild’s future career.
One of the research projects concerned
the problems encountered by the banks when considering long-term/fixed
credit for their clients. The retail banks were primarily
concerned with and organised for short-term credit. Arild’s
idea was that the retail banks should co-operate and give
guarantees that would replace mortgage security in the obligation
market. From this came the idea of providing an instrument
for handling these loans. The concept was presented to the
Treasury Department that approved the plan. At the same
time they demanded that the proposed company should also
be responsible for the long-term export credit that competition
in the capital goods market had made absolutely necessary.
The result was Forretningsbankenes Finansierings- og Eksportkredittinstitutt,
later shortened to Eksportfinans(Export Finance).
Arild remembers those early days: ”We
started with just me and a secretary. They were turbulent
times because not everyone agreed that a new financial institution
was necessary. Although the major Norwegian banks were the
original backers, they still needed to be convinced that
Export Finance’s function and ambitions would be supplements
rather than competition to their own activities. I didn’t
imagine then that this new creation would be the dominating
factor for the remainder of my business life.”
Most Norwegian banks became shareholders
at the outset and it was the banks well-oiled organisation,
their client relations, knowledge of documentation and control
that made it possible for Export Finance to operate and
maintain a sleek and effective organisation.
The rules and conditions governing
International Banking were not always the same from country
to country. Most governments subsidised capital goods manufacturers.
These subsidies were often financial loans and it was not
always possible to compare the various conditions. It was
tempting for many countries to extend the official support
and thus give their own exporters a relative advantage.
The increasing chain reaction of unrestricted credit competition
was of grave concern. In 1978 these worries led the OECD
to ’Consensus’ – an understanding among
members that official support to export credit should be
Export Finance maintained excellent relations with the Government
that, parallel with the OECD’S guidelines, formalised
their plans and decisions in Parliamentary Agreement 108.
This act was an important factor in Export Finance’s
The implementation of 108 signalled
a new phase for Export Finance. The company had already
assisted the authorities in several important cases and
now it was given the task of administering the new subsidy
system. One OECD publication described Export Finance as
a private company with an official character – an
extremely accurate observation. The 1978 agreement for Export
Finance to administer the official subsidy system was renewed
It was obvious to Arild that if Export Finance
were to become a viable tool for Norwegian exporters the
company had to do more than provide suitable credit facilities.
Therefore, from an early stage, the company began accumulating
market information and developing contacts to stimulate
business and to facilitate agreements.
This new market competence was especially
valuable in the Eastern European countries, in Russia and
in China – states where the economy was centralized
and dominated by Governments. Export Finance’s agreements
with these countries were foresighted and became more and
more important to Norwegian exporters as time went by.
Agreements were also made with large importers
in South America and with several African countries. All
these activities bolstered and finally established the company’s
image as an expert advisor to Norwegian exporters on all
phases of trade. The consequent growth increased the stature
of the company abroad and strengthened its position in the
international loan market.
Export Finance was also involved in the
struggle to secure favourable financing in Norway for Norwegian
capital goods in competition with foreign suppliers. In
cooperation with Storebrand as guarantor, a relatively simple
system was established to automatically provide long-term
financing at competitive rates. This was especially important
for industries such as Aluminium, Oil, Shipbuilding and
the new North Sea oil installations.
not practical to go into details of all activities
but the ones mentioned indicate the wealth of ideas
and the ability to recognise and adjust to the major
challenges facing the realisation of the company’s
By the end of the seventies,
Export Finance had the financial strength, the commercial
know-how and the international prestige that was necessary
to secure relatively inexpensive loans from the capital
Because of its size and stability,
the American market was second in importance after
Europe. But to obtain competitive conditions in America
it was necessary to obtain a credit rating from special
Two of these institutions,
Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, gave
Export Finance their ’Triple A’ rating
in 1980. ’Triple A’ is the highest credit
rating that can be obtained in America and Export
Finance was one of the few financial institutions
outside the USA to have earned this accolade. As if
to celebrate, Export Finance moved for the fifth time.
But now the building they moved into, close to the
centre of Oslo, was their own.
By the time Export Finance celebrated
its 25th anniversary it had become the largest private
financial business in Norway. The staff had grown
to 100 men and women – the same number employed
today. A pleasant and interesting environment and
a highly qualified staff were the foundation for the
recurrent good company results.
And good results were necessary because
Export Finance’s special concept, in its endeavour
to obtain the highest possible credit rating, could not
afford to accept business losses. In this aim the company
was successful thanks to decisions based on solid theory
and a painstaking accuracy in all phases of the business.
Every year, the company was able to report that no losses
had been sustained on the loan portfolio. This was one of
the most important factors in maintaining the company’s
prestige in the international loan market.
Arild’s final year as Managing Director
illustrates this strength: from zero to 26 billion kroner
in as many years and not one single year without a profit.
Small wonder that Jan Einar Greve, Chairman of the Council
of Representatives, wrote in the Annual Report for 1988:
”Arild Walder has led the development
of the Company since 1962 when, as secretary for a Bank
Association working party he formulated the basic concept
of Export Finance; ‘To utilise the long-term capital
markets for the advantage of Norwegian exporters of capital
goods, services and ships’. … This has been
Arild Walder’s brainchild. He and his colleagues have
demonstrated great skill in building up Export Finance to
be a key centre of competence linking the authorities and
the business community. … Special mention must be
made of the system, which was built up in 1977/78 in collaboration
with the Ministry of Finance to allow officially supported
export credits for capital goods. ... Trust is a prerequisite
for cooperation of this kind, and Arild Walder has performed
the central role in establishing and nurturing this atmosphere
of trust. …On behalf of all those who have held office
in Export Finance in the course of the last 26 years I would
like to thank Arild Walder for his outstanding contribution,
and not least for the pleasure it has been working with
him and getting to know him as a person.”
The challenges of Export Finance took most
of Arild’s time – but not all. In the beginning
he maintained his academic connections and after a number
of years censoring examination results he was appointed
professor at the University in Oslo. His task was to lecture
4 hours weekly to law students.
“The lecture room was always
full so my lectures, given without the aid of notes, must
have been interesting” says Arild.
1970 he was appointed Chairman for the National Tourist
Council, a group whose objective was to find a new approach
and business/political understanding of ’tourism’.
One of the main findings of this group was the concept
of ’course and conference’ activity for
hotels – a concept that had major positive consequences
for the hotel industry.
He was a member of several official committees, a board
member of the Norwegian Export Council for six years
and wrote numerous economic and mercantile articles
In 1984 Arild Walder was appointed ”Knight (1st
class) of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav”
for his long and important contribution to Norwegian
commerce and for his activities during the war.
When Arild reached retirement age in 1988
and vacated the top job in Export Finance, the magazine
’Economic Revue’ wrote that Export Finance was
a business with firm foundations that got top marks in an
international evaluation and that the only way to maintain
the company’s influence in the international capital
market was to continue with the system employed during the
past 25 years. Fifteen years later the financial results
for 2003 confirmed this opinion; another year with substantial
profit and a large increase in working capital.
But wasn’t Export Finance just another
finance business, a kind of super bank established at the
right time and the right place, one might ask? We let dr.philos,
Arvid Flagestad, previously employed in Export Finance,
answer for us in a letter written to Aftenposten in 1991:
”...He (Arild Walder) was the strategist
and operative leader of a financial institution which, in
these critical days, is one of the largest and most prestigious
of its kind in Northern Europe. The growth of Export Finance
was a result of close and trustful cooperation between the
authorities on one side and the owners on the other. Export
Finance established the basic framework that provided a
fertile environment for growth and strength. However, Export
Finance’s success was by no means a foregone conclusion.
The basic conditions and the operating strategy were both
created with impressive originality and vision. These attributes
made Export Finance an institution that attracted international
attention both for its structural strength and for its pronounced
service attitude towards Norwegian exporters. The fact that
Export Finance became a partner with authorities in their
foreign business policies was of special interest.
The man behind the ideas and the force in their creation
is Arild Walder… a leader whose prestige was tops
both before and after his retirement.”
There were many other paeans to Arild
upon his retirement – from the authorities, banks
and businesses. “I was obviously lucky”, says
Arild, “when I think back over the many interesting
but turbulent years in Export Finance.
Full Time Retirement
|After a few years as a
special advisor to Export Finance, Arild went into full
time retirement. Challenges awaited at the house and
garden by the fjord at Holtekilen. The summer house
at Lillesand and the cabin in the mountains at Høvringen
gave ample opportunities for fantasy, leisure and activities,
so retirement was no time for laziness
As a neighbour to Fornebu, with the
resultant noise problem, it was natural for Arild
to become engaged in the fight to get the airport
moved. And when the ‘planes stopped flying in
and out of Fornebu the change around the Oslofjord
| From being
almost unlivable the area once again became interesting
- practically a paradise. Arild was elected to the local
community board that worked to maintain standards and
improve conditions. As Chairman of the Holtekilen User
and Landowners Association he led the fight for beach-owners’
rights: not only their land interests but for optimal
Arild, Claes, Knut J, Gunerius, Knut P
Arild Walder has every reason to rest on his laurels
and enjoy the knowledge that his efforts have been
successful, for his business, for himself and for
his family. His wife of 50 years and two fine sons
have been of invaluable support.
Until a few years ago Arild
continued his boyhood interests of sailing and slalom.
One of his sons lives next door while the other
commutes between New Mexico and Northern Norway.
Both are ’entrepreneurs’ like their
father and both share their parents’ love
of the open-air and their childhood home beside
the now quiet and peaceful Oslofjord.
and Geoff Ward, Asker 2004/5