If you´re not Norwegian, you might already have forgotten what happened on 22 July 2011. But us, the Norwegian people, we will never forget because it was the first time that our country was hit by a terror attack.
I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I was in Praslin – Seychelles, working in a luxury hotel. I was on my break when I received an unexpected call from my father. He told me that an explosion had happened in Oslo but that he was fine.
We had a very bad access to the news: Internet was more than slow and the TV wasn’t better: a single channel with snow. But I looked at the news that day and I couldn’t believe the images I was seeing.
The main building of the government has been blown up. Some people were dead, some other hurt. Panic was all around.
I was happy that my father called me earlier or I would have freaked out as he lives less than 500 m from this building.
But then I started to wonder: What had Norway done to be the target of a terror attack? Who was behind the bomb and what were their demands?
As that time, we still didn’t know about the systematic shooting taking place in Utøya.
I learnt about it a few days later. I was shocked to hear that so many innocent people had died, mostly children. You really have to be a beast to kill defenceless children with cold blood.
The same beast was behind these 2 attacks: Anders Breivik, a Norwegian of 32.
He justified his act by saying that it was a necessity to stop the “Islamisation” of Norway.
His target was the Norwegian Labour Party that he hold for responsible. He wanted to destroy or at least weaken the party by attacking its present, with Jens Stoltenberg and his government, but also its future with teenagers and young adults of AUF (Arbeidernes Ungdomsfylking, the largest political youth organization affiliated to the Norwegian Labout Party) holding a summer camp.
In total, 77 persons have died and more than 200 have been injured.
On 24 August 2012, Breivik was adjudged sane and sentenced to containment — a special form of a prison sentence that can be extended indefinitely — with a time frame of 21 years and a minimum time of 10 years, the maximum penalty in Norway.
The 22 Juli-senteret opened on 22 July 2015. It’s a a memorial where the events of that day are examined and where the deads but also the survivors are honored.
The center is located in the main building of the government that blew out.
The first days of the opening were very successful as suggested the queue formed each day in front of the entrance.
People are allowed to enter in group so it goes quite fast.
The effects of the explosion can still clearly be seen both outside and inside the building.
The first room is dedicated to the 77 victims. There is a portrait of each of them with their name, their age and their city. I have to admit that I shed a tear or two.
Then, a film shows the footage from the security cameras before, during and after the explosion.
The main room presents the events of 22 July in a chronological order, almost minute by minute. It shows that Breivik had careful planned his attacks but also that the police had made several mistakes which have postpone his arrest.
Then, we made the queue to see another film which gathers interviews of some survivors. I found it very emotional to listen to their souvenirs of the massacre, how they survived, how some of them tried to help their friends…
Finally, the last room is composed to picture of the solidarity demonstration which took place in the country after the event, but also evidences from the trial and words about the verdict.
The visit takes about 1 hour and the explanation are both in Norwegian and in English so don’t hesitate to go to better understand what happened on that terrible day.
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00