When I saw the headline, "Norway apologizes to Jews," I thought perhaps that Norway was apologizing for the rampant Jew-hatred that has long infected the soul of a country with a history of wretched antisemitism. I watched in horror the vicious, violent protests against the Jews in Oslo in 2009. And the reported increasingly typical stories of rampant racism, such as Muslim taxidrivers refusing to drive Jews to synogogue.
In a 2006 report on Jew hatred in contemporary Norwegian caricatures published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Erez Uriely noted among other things that Norway banned kosher ritual slaughter in 1929 - three years before a similar ban was instituted in Nazi Germany. And whereas the ban on kosher ritual slaughter was lifted in post-war Germany, it was never abrogated in Norway.As Uriely noted, Norway's prohibition on Jewish ritual slaughter makes Judaism the only religion that cannot be freely practiced in Norway.Fascism was deeply popular in Norway in the 1930s. In the wake of the Nazi invasion, Norwegian governmental leaders founded and joined the Norwegian Nazi Party. Apparently, sympathy for Nazi collaborators is strong today in Norway.As the JCPA's Manfred Gerstenfeld noted in a report on the rise in Norwegian anti-Semitic attacks during 2009, two years ago the Norwegian government allocated more than $20 million in public funds to commemorate Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun on the occasion of the Nobel laureate for literature's 150th birthday. As The New York Times reported, in February 2009, Norway's Queen Sonja opened the, "year-long, publicly financed commemoration of Hamsun's 150th birthday called 'Hamsun 2009.'"But while Hamsun may have been a good writer, he is better remembered for being an enthusiastic Nazi. Hamsun gave his Nobel prize to Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels. During a wartime visit to Germany, Hamsun flew to meet Adolf Hitler at Hitler's mountain home in Bavaria.And in 2009, Norway built a $20 million museum to honor his achievements.As Uriely explained in his report, "Norwegian anti- Semitism does not come from the grassroots but from the leadership - politicians, organization leaders, church leaders, and senior journalists. It does not come from Muslims but from the European-Christian society." (Caroline Glick)
Norway apologizes to Jews AFP January 28, 2012
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Friday apologized for Norway's deportations of Jews during the Second World War
"Without relieving the Nazis of their responsibility, it is time for us to acknowledge that Norwegian policemen and other Norwegians took part in the arrest and deportation of Jews," Stoltenberg said.
"Today, I feel it is fitting for me to express our deepest apologies that this could happen on Norwegian soil," the prime minister added, standing on the exact spot where 532 Jews boarded the cargo ship Donau to be taken to the concentration camps.
After Nazi troops invaded Norway on April 9, 1940, it was ruled by a collaborationist government headed by Vidkun Quisling, whose name has since been synonymous with "traitor."
About 772 Jews were deported from Nazi-occupied Norway during the war. Only 34 of them survived.
"The murders were unquestionably carried out by the Nazis," Stoltenberg said, "but it was Norwegians who carried out the arrests, it was Norwegians who drove the trucks ... and it happened in Norway."
Although there likely were Jewish merchants, sailors and others who entered Norway during the middle age, no efforts were made to establish a Jewish community. Ruled by a series of Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish kings in combination with either Denmark or Sweden, public policy against non-Christians was in large part dictated by royal edict.
The first known mention of Jews in public documents relates to the admissibility of so-called “Portuguese Jews” (Sephardim) that had been expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1497. Some of these were given special dispensation to enter Norway. Christian IV of Denmark-Norway gave Jews limited rights to travel within the kingdom, and in 1641, Ashkenazi Jews were given equivalent rights.
Christian V rescinded these privileges in 1687, specifically banning Jews from Norway, unless they were given a special dispensation. Jews found in the kingdom were jailed and expelled, and this ban persisted until 1851.
In 1814, Norway formulated its first constitution that included in the second paragraph a general ban against Jews and Jesuits entering the country. Portuguese Jews were exempt from this ban, but it appears that few applied for a letter of free passage. When Norway entered into the personal union of Sweden-Norway, the ban against Jews was upheld, though Sweden at that point had several Jewish communities.
In 1844 (4 November), the Norwegian Ministry of Justice declared: "... it is assumed that the so-called Portuguese Jews are, regardless of the Constitution’s §2, entitled to dwell in this country, which is also, to [our] knowledge, what has hitherto been assumed."
After tireless efforts by the poet Henrik Wergeland, politician Peder Jensen Fauchald, school principal Hans Holmboe and others, the Norwegian parliament lifted the ban against Jews in 1851 and they were awarded religious rights on par with Christian "dissenters."
The Jewish community grew slowly until World War II and bolstered by refugees in the late 1930s, peaked at about 2,100. During the Nazi rule under the Nazi occupation of Norway, nearly all Jews were either deported to death camps or fled to Sweden and beyond. The Jews fleeing to Sweden were most often given help by non-Jewish Norwegians, although a number of the border guards only agreed to assist after receiving large payments from the refugees.
During the war, civilian Norwegian police (politiet) in many cases helped the German occupiers in the apprehension of those Jews who failed to escape in time. Records show that during the Holocaust, 758 Norwegian Jews were murdered by the Nazis—mostly in Auschwitz. Many of the Jews who fled during the war did not return, and in 1946, there were only 559 Jews in Norway.