Holocaust Survivors' Network




August 23, 2006


Norway Inaugurates Holocaust Museum
in Villa of Wartime 'traitor' Quisling


By Zipi Shohat

OSLO - Last night, in a gala ceremony attended by Norway's Queen Sonja, a Holocaust museum opened in this city. It is the 58th museum in the world dedicated to the Holocaust.

Among the many dignitaries on hand were Norwegian cabinet ministers, Yad Vashem head Avner Shalev and Elie Wiesel.

The museum's full name, the Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities in Norway, reflects a source of conflict in this city: The museum is not devoted to the study of the Jewish Holocaust, but also to the study of religious minorities as such.

The museum is located in the Villa Frande, which during World War II was the home of the man who became infamous for collaborating with the Nazis, and whose last name is now synonymous with "traitor" Vidkun Quisling.

Quisling was responsible for Norway's surrender to the Nazis in the spring of 1940. He was Norway's prime minister from February 1942 until the end of the war, and was executed by firing squad in 1945 after being convicted as a traitor.

The decision to house the museum in Quisling's former home is more than an ironic or symbolic act. It is an open admission by the Norwegian government of its responsibility for past events. The government, together with the small, local Jewish community (about 1,000 people), supported the museum's creation.

The main event of the evening's artistic program was the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, which performed selections from "Aide Memoire," choreographed by the troupe's artistic director, Rami Be'er. Be'er created the work in 1994 and has taken the company around the world to perform it. In it, Be'er contends with the memory of the Holocaust as part of his dialogue as a member of the "second generation" of Holocaust survivors who immigrated from Hungary to Kibbutz Ga'aton in northern Israel to start new lives.

The dance company, which is based on the kibbutz, arrived in Oslo on Tuesday. The dancers were forced to leave their kibbutz because of the war and have been holding rehearsals on Kibbutz Shfayim instead.

The Oslo museum has been in the works for several years. By early last year it began taking shape at the Villa Frande. At about the same time, Norway's minister of culture visited Israel and chose Be'er's dance for the opening ceremony.

Sources in Oslo say there was a great deal of tension between Norway's Jewish community and those who sought a more multicultural approach to the museum.

The respected Norwegian figure Professor Odd Bjorn Fure was named to head of the museum. He does not hide his discomfort with the Israeli occupation and has published articles criticizing Israel's policies in the territories. According to the Norwegian sources, the local Jewish community was forced to swallow his appointment quietly, partly to avoid scandal and partly in the hope that their support might encourage him to moderate his views. Now, the sources emphasize, Fure and the Jewish community have a decent working relationship.



© Copyright 2006 Haaretz

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