This year marks 70 years since the “Danube” cast off from this quay, and embarked on a voyage of shame .
532 Jews were brutally stowed on board.
Only nine returned.
One of them was Samuel Steinmann.
He is the last survivor.
I’m especially glad you are here with us.
Today we remember the millions of innocent people who were wiped out in History’s most heinous genocide.
We remember all of the Norwegian Jews who were murdered.
We remember the Roma, the disabled, gays and other victims of the Hitler regime’s cruelty.
The Holocaust will forever be a stain in the history of Mankind.
Thursday 26 November 1942 the Holocaust came to Norway.
One of the many who were arrested that day was Ruth Maier.
Her story is well known thanks to Gunvor Hofmo and Jan Erik Vold.
At dawn on 26 November heavy boots stomped up the stairs in the rooming house “Englehjemmet” in Oslo.
Shortly after, the frightened girlfriends of a humble Jewish girl, saw her being led out the door from her home in Dalsbergstien 3
The last glimpse of Ruth Maier is that she is pushed into a black car by two powerful Norwegian police officers.
Five days later, the 22-year-old is dead.
Murdered in the gas chamber in Auschwitz.
Fortunately, it is a human characteristic to learn from our mistakes.
And it’s never too late.
More than 50 years after the war, the Parliament established a settlement, collectively and individually, for the economic liquidation suffered by the Norwegian Jews.
The result was a moral acceptance of the State’s responsibility for acts committed against Norwegian Jews during the World War II.
What about the crimes against Ruth Maier and the other Jews?
The murders are without doubt the Nazis’ work.
But it was Norwegians who carried out the arrests.
It was Norwegians who drove the cars.
And it happened in Norway.
During the war, 772 Norwegian Jews and Jewish refugees were arrested and deported.
Only 34 survived.
Without denying the Nazis’s responsibility, it’s time to acknowledge the role of the Norwegian police and other Norwegians who participated in the arrests and deportations of Jews.
It is incumbent upon us to express our deepest regret that this could happen on Norwegian soil.
Just as important as to apologize is it to learn.
And more importantly:
To commit ourselves to combat the attitudes and actions that lead us away from decency and civilization.
70 years after, it pains me to say that the ideas that lead to the Holocaust are still alive.
All over the world, we see individuals and groups, spread intolerance and fear.
They serve violent ideologies that can lead to anti-Semitism and hate against minorities.
The Norwegian Jews say that they live in fear.
In the newspaper Vårt Land we have read that some of our Jews are afraid to make openly identify as Jews.
This is not how we should have it in Norway.
No one should have to hide their faith, cultural identity or sexual orientation.
Every human being is of equal worth.
All have equal rights.
This way and only like this, is how it should be in Norway
Naturally, it may be tempting to turn away from the discomfort.
Ignore the nascent signs of evil.
But we cannot allow ourselves to do that.
We would fail as human beings.
We would fail ourselves.
Instead, we must promise each other to confront totalitarian deceivers with firmness.
We shall argue against them with steadfast faith in humanity and equality.
It is incumbent on every one of us to confront their ideas and drive them out of the darkness with the light of knowledge .
It is a mission for the community to protect vulnerable groups against threats and violence.
The goal is the same:
It should be safe to be Jewish in Norway.
Nobody – no man and no minority – should have to live in fear in this country.
Thank you for your attention. “