NRK botches “interview” with Commander Kahan

NRK, apparently they never learn, or the people who are responsible for such embarrassing cockups never ever have to face any consequences… The newly minted Commander of the St.Olav’s order, Herman Kahan, was given a full minute to account for his most dramatic moment in life, when he was pulled out from a pile of corpses in Auschwitz.

Guri Hjeltnes, the director of the Holocaust Center promptly protested and wrote a strong worded letter to Aftenbladet , and the story was also picked up by Aftenposten (from where I lifted the story), causing an uproar among people who easily can distinguish right from wrong. Faced with the fall out, the NRK then thought it might be a good idea to apologize. But it would have been better if they had been professional in the first place…


NRK apologizes after scandal interview
The NRK evening news gave Herman Kahan one minute to tell how he was rescued from a pile of corpses in Auschwitz, causing massive and angry reactions from viewers. The interview should have been better planned and carried out professionally the NRK says.
Ivar Vasset Veit
Published: 26.feb. 2013 11:55 p.m. Updated: 26.feb. 2013 23:55

“Caught off guard and without finesse the 87 years old time witness was asked about his life’s low point  – when he lay half dead in piles of corpses.”

This is the opening phrase of  Guri Hjeltnes, historian and director of the Holocaust Center, in her oped;”So, you were  found in piles of corpses.” It was published on the Stavanger Aftenblad site on Sunday, and was printed in Monday’s newspaper.

The way the Evening News chose to cover the appointment of 87-year-old Herman Kahan commander of St. Olav, got Hjeltnes to react.

– We should have planned and carried out the interview in a better way, NRK’s news editor Stein Bjøntegård said in a comment to the newspaper.
– You can have a minute
During the gala dinner for Kahan, the 87-year-old was given a minute by the NRK reporter to take viewers on a journey. From tonight’s celebration at the Bristol Hotel in Oslo, back to 1945 and the piles of corpses he was rescued from in Hitler’s death camp.

– A minute? The talk about the greatest experience after the war …, Kahan said, before he fell silent, shook his head and began the next question.

The 87-year-old and his family were deported from Budapest to Auschwitz in 1944, where Kahan’s mother and sister were killed. Soon after liberation, his father died.

– The way the interview was carried out, it appeared as if he was unprepared to answer the question. This was obviously not the intention. In hindsight, the sequence should have been better presented and, and that we should have informed viewers that the interview was agreed with Kahan and leaders of St. Olav, continues Bjøntegård.

Hjeltnes was not alone in responding to the Newsnight story. Since the publication of “So, you were found in a pile of corpses.” it has been hotly debated in  Aftenbladet, and has been shared over 1300 times on social media.

Why does the NRK set aside so little time for such a serious topic? And why ask  these questions in the first place on such an occasion, are questions Hjeltnes and readers ask themselves.

– Time is always a challenge in a news program such as the evening news. We must nevertheless accept that Guri Hjeltnes is right that a minute was too little to learn Kahan’s strong history. We should  have given the topic and the story more time, says Bjøntegård.

The news editor thinks it was correct of them to cover Kahan case, but fully understands the reactions to the execution of the element.

– I think it was right to let our viewers participate in the celebration, but we should clarify the circumstances of, and perhaps present the history of the war in a different and more sober manner. We have learned from this, he said.

Was invited to the Morning News
ThAlready the same evening, the NRK realized that the aired sequence had been unfortunate, and therefore invited  Kahan to relate his story on the Morning News the day after.

– Then we got a much longer conversation with him. There he told his story in a proper manner, without the time pressure he experienced the night before, saying Bjøntegård.


11 comments for “NRK botches “interview” with Commander Kahan

  1. solinski
    February 28, 2013 at 3:20 am

    I saw the interview in question and honestly didn’t see anything wrong or improper with it.

  2. Martin
    February 28, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Of course, this brave man’s story was to be cut so short, as to be meaningless. He is a surviving Jew, not a poor Palestinian, who is treated as badly by Israel, as the Nazis treated the Jews.

    Is there no shame, humility, honour and decency among the top echelons of Norwegian society? Judging by daytoday reports and opnions, obviously not.

  3. Anonymous
    March 1, 2013 at 2:27 am

    a friend of mine her in Norway told us about a other friend that she has and her experience with parents in the class to her son. She had invited all the boys to a fun party and their mothers at the end for cake and tea. One mother sad that she could not make it because of work. The other parents told my friend that this was a problem family and that this mother had to come this boy was not normal. So she told the mother the situation and both her and the son came. What happen was that this problem childe behavied a lot better than the rest of the kids. And the mother had been 100% polite and kind to all the other mothers. My friend ask us what our first reaction was on this story if we had ever talken bad about other parents in the class of other children. We all had and we felt really ashemed by it. And gave compilments to her friend that most likely had saved a childe from being mobbed just by involving her and care about what was sad before and made a lovely party where everyone could come.

    Its the Director in HL that goes out in the public and says her opinion. I find the opinion to the HL Director and my friend that there is a lot to learn in how we bahave to each other. That you Solinski don’t feel that is your option : ) We are just very different and good is that! It has been really boring if we all felt and did the same things!

    In bocca lupo Martin!

  4. Martin
    March 1, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Thank you norwegian. It really is best not to bother responding to solinski. It is a complete waste of time,as lacks logic and understanding of the real problems. Still, if he continues to read Honest Reporting, he “may” learn a little. Till then, I will not waste my time any further.

  5. : )
    March 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    : ) phu : )
    I respect you for wanting to help people Martin, that is what is very home in you for me : ) Solinski are doing well, probably work with something fun and getting to much paied to be a dick!

  6. Martin
    March 3, 2013 at 4:49 am

    norwegian, you are too judgemental. how do you know that he has a dick in the first place?

  7. Martin
    March 3, 2013 at 4:50 am

    :)- forgot to add

  8. March 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    ehemmm, language please. Whats wrong with external plumbing or some similar synonym?

  9. : )
    March 4, 2013 at 3:04 am

    : )Martin and McG,

    I have promissed to not write in her after the electon. You Martin has promissed to not respond Solinski anymore. You McG has sad many times that the language has to be propper before its posted. Well let us all keep what we have promissed and then we move forward in peace : )

    All best : )

  10. solinski
    March 5, 2013 at 2:20 am

    FYI, interviews like this are as a rule prearanged and often prerecorded.

Comments are closed.