Local and National Memories of WWII in a Transnational Age: The Case of Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. 2019, 32 (4), 459-474. 10.1007/s10767-019-09332-9
This article discusses how the “unbound” and “multidirectional” memory of the Holocaust has contested, challenged, and reformed existing frames of memorialization of WWII in Norway. Through an analysis of the discussion on restitution, on Norwegian collaboration, on the establishment of Holocaust memorials and memorial sites, as well as an analysis of commemorative speeches, I show how the transnational memory of the Holocaust has transformed existing remembrance practices, however, without erasing or lifting national memory frames. For more than 50 years, Norway suffered from a “national consensus syndrome” in which the memory of the heroic Norwegian resistance during the 5 years of German occupation played a hegemonic role in Norwegian memory politics. The “global memory” of the Holocaust and the establishment of transnational memory networks such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), however, have contested national memory practices, pushed to uncover Norwegian participation in the crimes of the past and for the incorporation of Holocaust remembrance into a wider concept of fighting for democracy and human rights. The site of the Akershus harbor and nearby fortress in Oslo is a striking example of that, as this article demonstrates. Moreover, adopting the transnational memory of the Holocaust and the universalistic perspectives of human rights and democratic values was not only a matter of memory politics. Adopting Holocaust memory and transforming existing remembrance practices became an essential part of Norwegian foreign policy and a legitimation of Norway’s moral integrity as an international actor.