Norway’s Plan for Memorial to Victims of Breivik Killings Meets Resistance

Families, Neighbors and Geologists Have Raised Objections to Plans to Slice a Peninsula.

A plan to slice through a peninsula as a memorial to victims of the 2011 mass killings in Norway has run into resistance from the families of some of the dead as well as people living near the site and geologists who question the project’s viability.

Officials at Norway’s public art program, Koro, in February selected a design created by Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg to honor the 77 people killed by the political extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

Mr. Dahlberg’s idea is to cut a narrow channel through the Sorbraten peninsula across from the island of Utoya, where most of the killing took place. Koro described the concept as creating «a wound or a cut within the landscape itself.»

But not everyone is impressed with a memorial that would be almost a mile away from where the tragedy occurred.

«My daughter died on Utoya and not the mainland opposite to it,» Vanessa Svebakk, whose daughter Sharidyn was 14 years old when she was shot by Mr. Breivik, said in an interview. «I therefore oppose that memorial.»

Visitors will be able to walk to the memorial. Jonas Dahlberg

At the same time, some of those living nearby feel it is too close to home.

«I will never be able to forget what happened,» said Jorn Overby, who lives on the mainland opposite Utoya and went out to help rescue people that day—July 22, 2011—on his boat.

But he said he doesn’t want to be confronted with a visible reminder—not to mention the tourist traffic it would draw—every time he leaves his house.

He and some neighbors recently hired a high-profile lawyer, Harald Stabell, to try to block the project or relocate it. «We aren’t allowed to leave it behind us,» Mr. Overby said of the tragedy.

Another view of the proposal. Jonas Dahlberg

The murders, the worst in Norway’s peacetime history, affected all parts of the country and dozens of memorials have been erected throughout Norway.

Ms. Svebakk said her family is content with the existing memorials, including Sharidyn’s grave and a tree the family planted in Ms. Svebakk’s home country of New Zealand.

Per Sture Helland Pedersen, father of Asta Sofie Helland Dahl, who was 16 when she was killed, agreed with Ms. Svebakk, saying the island itself is the right place to mourn.

Meanwhile, some geologists have warned that the project will be more complicated than anyone has realized.

The proposed site is little more than a «pile of gravel disguised as a rock,» said Hans Erik Foss Amundsen, a consultant to the oil and gas industry. Under those conditions, cutting out 3½ meters, or 11½ feet, could be «far more expensive than anticipated,» he said.

A rendering of the design by Jonas Dahlberg. A channel would be cut through a peninsula to open a view to Utoya island, where most of the killing occurred. European Pressphoto Agency

Jorn Mortensen, who headed the jury that unanimously chose the design, said the artist was aware of this, and that using concrete for stabilization might be a possibility. «Further investigations of the ground will be undertaken,» he said.

The memorial does have the backing of the main support group for survivors and families of victims, which was represented on the jury. The group’s leader Trond Henry Blattmann, who lost his son on Utoya, said in an interview that he felt the decision-making was democratic.

Mr. Mortensen said that opponents will be able to make their voices heard at an information meeting on April 9. «It is also important to underline that no name will be written on any memorial without the victim’s relatives giving permission,» he said, adding that all will be asked.

Ms. Svebakk and Mr. Pedersen, who don’t belong to the support group, said they would not allow their children’s names on the memorial as currently conceived.

—Kjetil Malkenes Hovland contributed to this article.






Norway’s Plan for Memorial to Victims of Breivik Killings Meets Resistance –

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