The story of Jan Baalsrud is one of the wildest, most unbelievable survival stories of World War II.
A Norwegian soldier, in March 1943 Baalsrud took a task force into the fjords aboard a fishing boat filled with explosives, with the intention of sabotaging the Nazi occupation. Following a tip off the boat was attacked by German troops. Baalsrud survived both the gunfight and boat's explosion. Swimming to shore he was the only crew member to evade capture, and remained in hiding in the harsh mountainous winter terrain for two months until escaping into Sweden.
During those months he was caught in snowstorm for days, an avalanche buried him alive and his feet froze solid. Alone and desperate he amputated several of his toes to stop the spread of gangrene.
Baalsrud spent the last several weeks tied to a stretcher, close to death, as teams of villagers dragged him up and down the snowy mountains, hiding him in caves and keeping him one step ahead of the Nazi search parties. On his escape into Sweden, Jan Baalsrud became an instant folk hero and symbol of the Norwegian resistance.
New York Times | I Saw Him Passing But Said Nothing