Norwegian Police apologize for deporting Jews to Auschwitz

The Norwegian Police for the first time have apologized for rounding up Jews and sending them to their deaths during the Holocaust.

“On behalf of the Norwegian police and those involved in the deportation of Norwegian Jews to concentration camps, I wish to express regret,” Norway’s newly appointed police commissioner, Odd Reidar Humlegard, told the newspaper Dagsavisen.

Humlegard said about 300 police officers handled the deportation of 772 Jews to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland. Only a handful survived.

His interview with Dagsavisen appeared on the 70th anniversary of the main deportation, when more than 500 Jews were loaded aboard an eastbound ship at the port of Oslo.

The Oslo Jewish Museum opened an exhibition on the deportation at 2:55 p.m. Monday, the ship’s exact time of departure. In total, 40 percent of Norwegian Jewry was deported; only a handful survived, according to the museum. The remaining 60 percent fled to neutral Sweden.

The exhibition focuses on the deportation itself, which was conducted by Norwegian police and militia members, according to Mats Tangestuen, the museum’s historian, and includes video interviews with 21 survivors.

A small part of the exhibition examines the life of about 900 Norwegian Jews who lived in exile in Sweden.

Earlier this year, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg formally apologized for his country’s role in the Nazi persecution of Jews.

Norwegian official: Jews, Muslims should replace circumcision with ‘symbolic’ ritual

Norway’s ombudsman for children’s rights has proposed that Jews and Muslim replace male circumcision with a symbolic, nonsurgical ritual.

Dr. Anne Lindboe told the newspaper Vart Land last month that circumcision in boys was a violation of a person’s right to decide over his own body.

“Muslim and Jewish children are entitled to the same protection as all other children,“ she said, adding that the practice caused unnecessary pain and was medically unbeneficial.

Lindboe, a pediatrician, was appointed ombudsman in June. Her predecessor, Reidar Hjermann, proposed setting 15 as the minimum age for circumcision. According to Jewish religious law, Jewish babies must be circumcised when they are eight days old.

The children’s ombudsman is an independent governmental institution entrusted with safeguarding the rights of minors.

Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, said that Norwegian Jews “will not be able to live in a society where circumcision is forbidden.” He noted that the mandate of Norway’s children’s ombudsman did not extend to devising Jewish rituals. Norway has a Jewish community of about 700.

In June, a spokesperson for Norway’s Centre Party, which has 11 out of 169 seats in parliament, proposed a ban on circumcising babies.

Norwegian gov’t coalition partner seeking to outlaw circumcision

A Norwegian political party said it will seek to outlaw circumcision in Norway.

“Circumcision on religious grounds should be a criminal offense,” Jenny Klinge, a spokesperson for Norway’s Centre Party, said in an interview earlier this month with the newspaper Dagbladet.

Klinge added that “Fortunately, circumcision is already illegal in females. The time has come for boys to receive the same legal protection.”

The Centre Party, a member of the Norwegian coalition, occupies 11 seats out of the 169 in parliament.

Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community in Oslo, told JTA that he considers the issue “an existential matter” for the community.

“Banning circumcision would send a loud message that the Jewish minority is not wanted here,” he said. Norway has a Jewish community of about 700.

Last year, the government offered the Jewish community a compromise to regulate circumcision that requires the presence of medical personnel during the procedure. Kohn said the community found the requirement acceptable. The government’s preoccupation with the issue started last year, after Norway’s Children’s Ombudsman proposed setting 15 as the minimum age for ritual male circumcision.

“In the aftermath of discussions, several parties have come to oppose circumcision altogether,” Kohn said. “Now we are seeing an escalation in the debate over the issue.”

A spokesman for the ruling Labor Party told Dagbladet that his party has yet to formulate a stand on the issue. The Centre Party has four government portfolios.

Norway is among a handful of European countries where the kosher slaughter of animals is prohibited.

Norwegian lawmaker denies Holocaust

Members of a Norwegian lawmaker’s own party have called for his resignation after he publicly denied the Holocaust.

Labor Party lawmaker Anders Mathisen reportedly told the Finnmarken newspaper that the Holocaust never happened and challenged readers to prove him wrong.

“There is no evidence the gas chambers or mass graves existed,” he told the newspaper, according to reports. “Even reputable Holocaust historians have admitted it cannot be established.”

Mathisen reportedly has spent months researching World War II concentration camps and is advocating changing history books, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. He also published his reported his “findings” on his Facebook page.

Mathisen reportedly has accused Holocaust survivors of exaggerating their stories. He also said that the public has been brainwashed into believing in the Holocaust by films such as “Schindler’s List,” according to the forum.

The lawmaker has refused to resign from the party.

“Holocaust survivors are aghast at the morally repugnant comments of a Norwegian member of Parliament,” Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said in a statement. “They are an insult to the memory of all victims of Nazi brutality, Jew and non-Jew.”

Steinberg called for Mathisen’s expulsion from political office and removal from the Labor Party.

“It was not until the 1990s that Norway began to confront its collaboration with the deportation of Jews and the plunder of their property during the Nazi occupation,” the statement concluded. “The manner in which they deal with MP Mathisen is a test of whether those historical lessons were learned.”