Norwegian army general who became the army's commander in chief in 1940. Born on 1 September 1882 in Kristiania, Norway, Otto Ruge joined the Norwegian army and was an instructor at the Military Academy from 1923. In 1930, he headed the Communications Section of the General Staff, and between 1933 and 1938, he was chief of staff of the General Staff. From 1938 to 1940, he was inspector general of infantry. A colonel at the time of the German invasion of his country on 9 April 1940, Ruge rallied Norwegian forces and halted a German advance at Midtskogen. Whereas Norwegian army commander General Kristian Laake lacked confidence in continued resistance, Ruge expressed a determination to fight on. Appointed commander in chief of the Norwegian army on 10 April and promoted to brigadier general, he hoped to contain the German invasion along the southern Norwegian coast and then slowly withdraw northwest to allow time for mobilization of the rest of the country and British and French military intervention.
Ruge skillfully directed the Norwegian defense in a series of delaying positions. Not having been informed in advance of the British evacuation and with a German victory in sight, he steadfastly refused to abandon his men and capitulated only when King Haakon and the government had departed for London. He disbanded the 6th Division on 9 June, and the next day, a member of his staff signed an armistice with the Germans. Ruge then became a German prisoner of war and was only released at the end of the war.
From 1945 to 1946, Ruge was once again commander in chief of the Norwegian army, and he served as commander in chief of the armed forces from 1946 to 1948. He died in Mysen, Norway, on 15 August 1961.
Spencer C. Tucker
Ash, Bernard. Norway, 1940. London: Cassell, 1964.; Kersaudy, François. Norway, 1940. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.; Koht, Halvdan. Norway Neutral and Invaded. New York: Macmillan, 1941.