25 April 2012

National 22 July memorials report submitted

The Norwegian Government decided in December 2011 to establish two memorials after 22 July, one in Oslo and one in connection with Utøya (Hole municipality), following the 22 July attacks. According to the Ministry of Culture's press release of 22 December 2011, the memorials are intended to both honour the memory of the deceased and represent a collective tribute to the volunteers, survivors and rescue personnel. 77 people died in the attacks.

The steering committee for the national 22 July memorials, chaired by former Minister of Culture Åse Kleveland, submitted today to the Government its report Steder for å minnes og påminnes - innstilling vedrørende minnesteder etter 22. juli ("Places for recollection and reminding - a report concerning memorial places after 22 July"). The report (in  pdf) can be read here.

The committee has visited and discussed several places in Hole and Oslo to place the memorials. Regarding Hole municipality, where Utøya island is situated, the steering committee believes that the memorial place should be accessible to everyone and therefore located on the mainland. Therefore Sundvollstranda, Vik, Sundøya, Gamleskolen, Elstangen, Sørbråten, Lauvodden (Veikroa) and Lien were all visited, and the committee concluded that Sørbråten (see pp. 12-14) was the best place, with Lauvodden as an alternative. Both places are connected to Riksvei ("National road") 155 and are close to Tyrifjorden lake with a view to Utøya and with limited passing traffic.

I gather that Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking (AUF, Workers' Youth League) will also set up their own memorial on the island itself.

In Oslo the committee has visited Domkirkeplassen (the Oslo Cathedral Square), Stortorget (the Main Square next to the Oslo Cathedral), Eidsvolls plass vest, Tullinløkka, Youngstorvet, Grev Wedels plass, Kontraskjæret/Skansen, Nisseberget (in the Palace Park) and Regjeringskvartalet (the Government Quarter). The conclusion was that Nisseberget in the Palace Park (pp. 21-23) was the best place, with the Government Quarter as an alternative. The Royal Palace has responded positively to the proposal. Nisseberget is in the report described as "a sunny height in the Palace Park, between Wergelandsveien and Slottsbakken", with a great view to the city, and is "both secluded and open at the same time".

Personally I would have thought that the Government Quarter, which was severely damaged by the car bomb on 22 July 2011, would be the most fitting place to raise the memorial, but the committee regards the uncertainty about when the reconstruction work is finished as a weakness. But even if also the Government decides on Nisseberget for the national 22 July memorial in Oslo, it will not exclude a memorial also in the Government Quarter, although in a smaller scale.

It is now up to the Norwegian Government to decide where to place the national memorials. The committee has suggested that an invitation will be given to an open, international "prequalification" for a commission which includes the two national memorial places. In the so-called open prequalification artists, architects and co-operating groups will present their reasoned applications for participation. The prequalification will be followed by a closed competition where up to 20 artists etc. take part.

The plan is that the national memorials will be unveiled on 22 July 2015, four years after the attacks took place.


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