Saturday, April 7, 2012
Dagbladet: Norwegian Police apprehended the Jews
April 6, 2012
Lifted from Dagbladet
Many Norwegian police officers got away with impunity from their participation in the extermination of the Norwegian Jews. - Now the time is ripe to clear the air and review the action of the Norwegian Police Authorities, says Per Ole Johansen.
(Dagbladet): Many testimonies stink of ”esprit de Corps”, Per Ole Johansen says, the professor of criminology at the University of Oslo, who for the last five years has gone studied the documents pertaining the investigations and trials of 230 members of the Norwegian State Police. He wanted to look into how the elite of the country’s police officers gave evidence immediately after the war – and when they gave testimony in court as defendants.
Covered each other
- The pattern is that everybody covered over each other afterwards. This is one of the reasons why very few police officers were convicted of having participated in the rounding up and deportation of Norwegian Jews to Poland – where nearly all were murdered in the gas chambers, says Johansen.
- The Germans wanted of course no big commotion and unrest in the population, when the order came in November 1942 that all Norwegian Jews were to be detained and jailed – or deposited directly on the quay in Oslo. So everything went much quieter and simpler, when it was Norwegian sheriffs or police officers who executed the order – and not the Hird or the German Gestapo.
Zealous in the service
The State Police was responsible for the organization – and the staff participated actively in detention. The documents show how some officers put unusual zeal into fulfilling the order. Afterwards, they were believed when they claimed that they had no choice – or that they had no concept of what was going on. The comparison of the 230 criminal cases of post-war years has offered an amazing wealth of documentation.
- There was a very blatant disinformation. Police officers who themselves were not indicted, met in court and gave very positive testimony of colleagues who had been landed in the dock. The defendants could reconcile their testimonies with each other and the witnesses made statements that were similar in wording so similar that it could only be learned in advance. This pattern runs through all the way, says Johansen.
It took no more than a few years before the horror that had befallen the Jews was pushed into the background, he says.
Creating an image of Norway
- It was important to create an image of Norway and Norwegians during the war, where it was the Germans and the Nazis who exterminated the Jews. Although the Norwegian policemen had robbed the persons of their homes, money and identification, they were believed when they said that they had no inkling of the fate that awaited the Jews when they arrived at Auschwitz. The courts assumed that the crime was committed by the Germans who received the Jews on the Oslo dock – and not by those who had actually given the Jews over, says Johansen.
- The mass murder of 762 people had for decades only been mentioned passing in the great works of history about the war. The survivors themselves were so traumatized that they were not talking about the disaster – much less had the power to search for the culprit. For the national self-image it was most convenient that no Norwegians were convicted of complicity in the killing of the deportees, says the professor.
Refused to speak
- The fact that Norwegian police officers who had been members of the Nazi party and even participated in the persecution of jews were allowed to continue inservice, left the Norwegian police riddled bitter rivalry and hate for many years. The bitterness was particularly strong among those who had been detained for resistance work, and even sent to prison camps in Germany. People who were in the State Police during the war, and some of the people I contacted in the 1980′s reacted aggressively and dismissive of questions regarding their own personal history.
- Now almost all the time witnesses have died. Perhaps the time has come for us to study our history – and see how terribly wrong it actually went with this part of the Norwegian police, who chose collaboration instead of opposition? asks Per Ole Johansen.
- It was not just the notorious police inspector Knut Røed who got away scot free. His colleagues from the State Police too – with very few exceptions – were let off free. And none of them seem to understand that they themselves had made up all the little wheels in the system –and were just as important as those at the top who gave the orders. In reality, they participated in a genocide, says Per Ole Johansen.
- National trauma
- Norwegians’ active participation in the genocide is in fact not a topic that will just disappear. Young people growing up, will examine how this was possible.This is a national trauma that we can no longer continue to sweep under the carpet, says Professor Per Ole Johansen.