July 22 Information Center open

Victims of terror attacks remembered in Oslo Tower Block

Photo: Ann Kristin Lindaas, courtesy of Ministry of Local Government and Modernization Three Prime Ministers attended the opening: ex-PM Gro Harlem Brundtland (center), ex-PM Jens Stoltenberg, and present PM Erna Solberg.

Photo: Ann Kristin Lindaas, courtesy of Ministry of Local Government and Modernization
Three Prime Ministers attended the opening: ex-PM Gro Harlem Brundtland (center), ex-PM Jens Stoltenberg, and present PM Erna Solberg.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

On July 22, 2011, Norway suffered two sequential lone-wolf domestic terrorist attacks against the government in Oslo and against a Labor-Party Youth League (AUF) summer camp that together claimed 77 lives. It was the most lethal attack in Norway since World War II. On the fourth anniversary of the attacks, an information center on them was opened on the ground floor of the 17-floor Tower Block of the government quarter in Oslo, the site of the first attack.

The interior of the center looks like that of a bombed building, which is exactly what it is. Like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the attack on it used a car bomb as the weapon of terrorism. The explosion killed eight people and injured an additional 209. The second attack occurred less than two hours later, on the island of Utøya in Lake Tyrifjorden, 24 miles northwest of the city of Oslo. There the lone gunman massacred 69 young people, one-by-one, using a semiautomatic rifle and a semiautomatic pistol. The gunman, a 32-year-old Norwegian right-wing extremist, was apprehended on the island. In mid 2012, he was tried in the Oslo District Court and sentenced to 21 years in prison, which upon expiration can be extended in five-year periods, as long as the prisoner is regarded to be a threat to society.

The exhibitions of the center—photos, texts, films, and objects—clearly and touchingly detail the scenarios of the two horrific attacks. There’s a separate memorial room dedicated to the 77 people who lost their lives in them. The texts and photo captions on placards are in English as well as Norwegian.

The center is a joint effort of the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization and the Department of Historical Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. It is not intended to be permanent, but rather to have a life span of about five years, the estimated time for completion of the rehabilitation works on the government quarter.

Further reading:
• “2011 Norway attacks,” Wikipedia entry, link at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Norway_attacks

• “Infosenter om 22. juli ved Høyblokka” (“July 22 Information Center at the Tower Building”), Ministry of Local Government and Modernization press release upon announcement of building of center, January 4, 2015 (in Norwegian), online at: www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/infosenter-om-22.-juli-ved-hoyblokka/id2357136/

• July 22 and the Negotiation of Memory by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), description of joint government-academic project (in English), online at: www.ntnu.edu/july22memory

Center details:
The center is on the ground floor of the 17-floor Høyblokka (“Tower Block”) of Regjerings­kvartalet (“The Government Quarter”) in downtown Oslo, with an entrance from Akersgata, website at www.22julisenteret.no, email: post@22julisenteret.no, opening hours Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., free.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 28, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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