July 8, 2009

Raoul Wallenberg Foundation slams Norway for ‘vindicating Nazis’


Norway’s controversial decision to honor novelist and
Nazi-sympathizer Knut Hamsun came this week under harsh criticism from
the international foundation for Raoul Wallenberg – a Swedish diplomat
who disappeared after saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from
the Holocaust.

The once celebrated author, who supported Norway’s Nazi occupation
regime during World War II, was born 150 years ago. Hamsun gave his
Nobel Prize in Literature medal, which he won in 1920, to Nazi
propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Norway’s government has declared
2009 ”Hamsun Year” and is planning on opening a museum in his honor
next month.

”It now remains up to the Norwegian government to put an end to
this offensive vindication of Nazism and live up the standards the
world has come to expect from it or live with the consequences of such
unacceptable behavior,” said Nicholas Tozer, one of the 15 board
members of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

In his letter of protest, Tozer joined prominent Israeli campaigners
against anti-Semitism who last month told Haaretz that by declaring
2009 ”Hamsun Year,” Norway has damaged the international Holocaust
awareness drive that it was recently appointed to head as chair of the
26-nation Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust

This fact, according to the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, makes
Norway’s decision on Hamsun ”even more incomprehensible.” The Norwegian
foreign ministry said that Hamsun’s commemoration also focuses on his
Nazi past and will thus serve as an educational tool.

People like Raoul Wallenberg and many non-Jewish Norwegians who in
WWII smuggled over 1,000 persecuted Jewish refugees to neutral Sweden
”are still awaiting recognition on the scale given to this war
criminal,” Tozer wrote.