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Norway Commemorates Holocaust Deportations

“Norwegians have learned to accept that they participated in the Holocaust atrocities”

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Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre addressed a capacity crowd gathered at City Hall in Oslo to memorialize the deportation of Jews into Nazi hands during World War II. (Photo: Rami Kafarov- Instagram: oslo.phototour)

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On Thursday the 24th of November, Norway commemorated the deportation of its Jewish community during World War II to the camps. “We must not forget or think that it no longer concerns us,” said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre addressing the audience. 

“It is crucial for those who come after us that we never forget what happened to the Jews before, during and after the Second World War” Støre intoned. 

During the Shoah, many Norwegian Jews were rounded up and eventually killed. The pre-war population numbered over 2000 Jews and it fell greatly. Around 60 per cent of Norwegian Jews managed to escape to neutral Sweden, aided by the Norwegian Resistance. This equates to a total of around 1100 people. About 35 per cent (772 people) were deported to the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Only 34 returned alive. Today the community numbers less than 800 people with 2 synagogues – one in Oslo and another in Trondheim. 

The November event was at full capacity with over 700 people in attendance. The commemoration was a jointly organised by  the HL centre, the Mosaic Faith Society, the Jewish Society in Trondheim and the Jewish Museum in Oslo. After the event, Mayor Marianne Borgen, invited the attendees to a reception. 

Ervin Kohn, President of the Jewish community in Oslo, told thej.ca in an exclusive interview, “We commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day in January 27th, but for us this day is a national day. Historically the people of Norway believed that the Shoah happened to ‘some other community’ in ‘some other country’ but the Jewish community always commemorated it here. Now, it has become more public acceptance and people have come to realize that many Norwegian citizens were involved – police, bureaucrats, train drivers, taxi drivers, all members of society. I am very happy that the public attitude to this has improved significantly.”

Rabbi Michael Melchior addressed several pressing community concerns – school student’s need to take time off work on Jewish holidays, provision of kosher food for prison inmates and the ongoing threat of budget cuts for the Jewish Housing and Senior Center. To this, the audience replied with a standing ovation. Støre later replied that he couldn’t “promise anything”.

“It is good news that Norwegians have learned to accept that they participated in the Holocaust atrocities after almost 80 years.” said Rami Kafarov, a community member. “The 26th of this month is the actual commemoration date but it falls on Shabbat, so we had it two days before in Oslo city hall. The actual deportation site is a mere 10-minute walk from here.” 

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The head of the Holocaust Center, Guri Hjeltnes, also added that she would like November 26th to become a National Day of Remembrance. Støre, on a positive nod added that it’s become a day “many mark, and it’s necessary.”

Hjeltnes said “It has been important for us as organizers both to remember so as not to forget, and also to convey something about Jewish culture and how the Jews have fared after the Second World War.”. The Minister for Children and Families, Kjersti Toppe as well as Minister for Employment and Inclusion, Marte Mjøs Persen were also in attendance. 

During the German occupation, Jews had to get their ID cards stamped with a “J” and the Nazis, supported and abetted by Norwegian police and other collaborators were able to target their victims. German troops vandalised the Trondheim synagogue in 1941. Forty-one Norwegian nationals have been recognized as being among the Righteous Among Nations by Yad Veshem.

Like this event, on International Holocaust Day on January 27th of this year, Crown Prince Haakon attended a ceremony despite the Covid pandemic still being in full throttle. 

Avi Kumar is a historian of Sri Lankan descent who lives in New York.

He has a unique spin on current affairs.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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