2012: The Year in Review
By Kelsey Larson
It’s our last issue of the year, and with it we’d like to offer some reflections on the highlights of 2012. This year was an interesting one for Norway, as it tried to make sense of the tragedies of July 22, 2011, through Anders Behring Breivik’s trial. The country also went through the tragic death of young swimming hero Alexander Dale Oen. However, there were also high points for Norway this year: the excitement of “The Scream” auction in New York City put Norway on the international stage, and the country also marked a new milestone as the population crossed 5 million.
On January 27, International Holocaust Rememberance Day, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg for the first time offered an official apology on behalf of the Norwegian government for Norway’s complicity in the deportation and death of Norwegian Jews. “Norwegians carried out the arrests; Norwegians drove the trucks and it happened in Norway,” said Stoltenberg. “Today I feel it is fitting to express our deepest apologies that this could happen on Norwegian soil.” The apology, 70 years after the fact, was thought by some to be “innappropriately” late.
On March 15, headlines were made when a routine military operation turned deadly for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The plane called “Siv,” a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules military transport, was participating in the “Cold Response” military exercise when it disappeared from the radar over northern Sweden. A Swedish rescue team was delayed in its search effort due to bad weather, but finally was able to locate debris spread across the western wall of Mount Kebnekaise. The plane appears to have crashed into the mountain, – though nobody is quite sure why – with all five Norwegians onboard thought to have been killed. An investigation by the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority, assisted by the Norwegian Accident Investigation Board, is still ongoing.
Crossing 5 million
On March 19 of this year, Norway hit an exciting milestone, as the population officially passed the 5 million mark, according to studies by Statistics Norway. Immigrants were a contributor to this achievement, with many from Sweden and Poland adding to the number. Norway also enjoys the highest fertility rate in Europe, as well as longer life-spans.
In April, the 10-week trial of the terrorist responsible for the death of 77 people, Anders Behring Breivik, began in Oslo. These ten weeks were some of the most tense of 2012, with constant coverage of the trial in which many survivors of the attacks had to testify exactly what horrible things had happened to them on July 22, and in which Breivik was allowed to speak at length. Some Norwegians preferred to completely ignore trial coverage, while others followed closely day-by-day. Though many thought the trial stretched out far too long, others believed it to be an important step in Norway’s healing process.
Dale Oen death
Tragic news came to Norway on May 1, when it was revealed that champion
Norwegian swimmer Alexander Dale Oen died in Flagstaff, Ariz. About to turn 27, the swimmer was young and in fantastic physical condition. His death was baffling to everyone.
The tragedy came during terrorist Anders Behring Breivik’s trial, and this timing seemed very grim, especially since Dale Oen had brought such inspiration to Norway by winning a World Championship title just three days after the July 22 attacks in 2011. “That swim came from my heart,” he said at the time. “I was very emotional, I swam for my king, my country and our people, who need to feel love and support.”
Dale Oen’s death also marked the loss of Norway’s chance at a gold medal in swimming at the upcoming Summer Olympics. Dale Oen was a Norwegian
national hero, and will forever be mourned.
Norway was on the international stage in early May, when Edvard Munch’s masterpiece “The Scream” went up for auction at New York City auction house Sotheby’s. The painting, the last version of Munch’s iconic image to remain in private hands, was put up to auction by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, who plans to use the money to fund a museum dedicated to Munch’s work. The unprecedented sale was expected to collect anywhere upward of $80 million dollars, and the work of art ended up selling to an anonymous bidder for $119,922,500, which set the world record for most expensive artwork sold in an auction.
Summer Olympics 2012
Norway finished the 2012 Olympic Games in London with two gold, one silver and one bronze medal.
Road bicycle racer Alexander Kristoff took the bronze medal in the men’s road race on July 28.
Fencer Bartosz Plasecki won the silver in the men’s individual épée.
Eirik Verås Larsen won Norway’s first gold of the games on Aug. 8 by winning the 1000m men’s kayak single.
But arguably the most exciting win was the second gold medal, by Norway’s women’s handball team. The team retained their Olympic title by defeating Montenegro 26–23 in a thrilling final on the last day of competition Aug.11. Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and their children were in the audience for the final match, and reported that the atmosphere in the stadium was great.
We sincerely thank our readers, contributing editors, writers and advertisers. Without your continuing support, we would never be able to bring this special publication to the Norwegian-American community every week. The Weekly went through a big change this year with the departure of Christy Olsen Field, the wonderful Editor of the Weekly from March 2009 through November 2012. The Norwegian American Weekly owes her a huge thank-you for her hard work and dedication. Though 2013 will not be the same without her, we will continue to bring great news and interesting stories to the Norwegian-American community in the New Year!
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 11, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.