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  1. Crush Nazism, man and monument!

    Forgive me for my tabloid headline.

    It needs a bit of explanation. I want you to take a look at two of this year’s new tourist attractions in Oslo, – two new public monuments, “Crush Nazism” and “Man and monument”.

    First stop is Oslo Central Station

    Every week, I visit the central station regularly a few times. Still I have not yet seen the new monument, despite the fact that it weight an impressive 19 tons (kilogram). You see it outside the old station hall on the southwestern corner where the trams and buses go. The monument is named «Crush Nazism», and was unveiled on May 1 this year. Based on the web-based newspaper articles, these impressions came to my mind:

    Needlessly brutal and violent

    We do not break Nazism with violence in this nation. We’re holding peaceful demonstrations with a clear message. We did so after the terrorist attack in 2012, and we would do the same again.

    Needlessly old-fashioned

    The monument has a similar expression as the decorations of the Oslo City Hall, based on the 30th century labor politics. “City and Country hand in hand”, or whatever. It is historic, elapsed and old-fashioned. Moreover, people of today have no relations to sledgehammers.

    Needless to show the swastika

    I mean no goal can justify to display a swastika in a public place. The symbol has been used once and for all. Everyone knows that it can never be used as a unifying symbol for anyone or any political movement. Even in broken condition, like here, it feels unnecessary provocative.

    That was my virtual impression.

    In reality, however, you do not see the swastika that well. I am 1.88 meters tall, and though I held the camera high, I did not manage to catch any good picture of the swastika. Passing people will probably not detect the image of a swastika. That’s good.

    I like the choice of materials, stainless steel and rock. It makes it look like something that could have been set up in Universal Studios, Hollywood. It seems elaborate and costly.

    When I look closely, I see that I’m looking at a war memorial monument. It has a plaque of names of employees at The Norwegian Rails (NSB) who was killed during the war, and members of the Osvald Group that was responsible for the blasting of the central station hall. After the war, the Osvald Group fell in the shadow of our war time hero Max Manus & Co, probably because the leader of the Osvald group, Asbjørn Sunde, and several of his members, reportedly were communists. First in 2013 the Group members were officially thanked for their efforts during the war.

    My initial critical points were based on the fact that the monument were supposed to be a piece of public art for the masses, knowing that such art not only should please, but also be provocative. The history sheds new light on the monument. As a war memorial, I am willing to tone down my critical points, but instead I think … okay, it does not stand in the way of anyone – and if you keep walking between the platforms and “The Barcode”, or straight through the hall towards the city center, chances are that you’ll never be able to notice it. But still I think it is worth asking:

    Is this really a suitable place for such a monument?

    Here are held the camera at face level. Fortunately, the swastika is not all too evident.

    Shiny as an old Cadillac …

    The journey goes on to a small park west of the City Hall. Here stands the monument "Man and monument" where the man on the monument has taken a step down from the pedestal, strolling around in the shade of the trees. It is also possible that the title is supposed to make us remember that the man on the monument is the late King Olav V, – a man that was a monument in his own time, so to speak. In contrast to "crush Nazism," I had not made up any critical impressions in advance. But when I stood in front of the King Olav monument, I thought it was somehow wrong. King Olav never strolled around down here – not at all. My neighbor who lives down the road, strolls around in the same way, looking at by-passers. I am sure King Olav’s expression is correct in many of the situations he found himself in, but it never happened here.

    The creation of King Olav’s monument is a long story. After his death, it was agreed to name a street after him. Unfortunately there weren’t any new streets to be named, so the city council decided to rename Roald Amundsen Street to Olav V’s Street. If you walk down from "Burns Bar" and Hotel Continental, you’ll see king Olav at the bottom of the street, below his pedestal. He’ll kind of look at you and say with his distinctive jolly voice:


    “Keep your distance”, I heard a mother tell her child who was heading toward the statue. I had to let the front wheel of my bike touch the king’s leg for a moment to be able to take a close-up. How disrespectful of me, I thought. King Olav was very popular, but it is wrong to see him strolling under the trees like a homeless. I’d found it more appropriate to see up at the royal palace – on his pedestal, of course. Therefore I ask the same question again:

    Is this really a suitable place for such a monument?

    If the statue hadn’t had such photographic identical image of the late king, its location would have been more proper. For a couple of years ago, the sculptor Knut Steen made a monument of King Olav that was supposed to stand in the same place. That monument did not have correct pictorial image, but was rejected by the city council, because of complaints that the king was portrayed as a dictator with an oversized right hand. I wonder what he’s doing with his left hand.

    🙂 What do you think about Oslo’s new monuments?

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