Letter | Date: 30/07/2009
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre's letter to the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation regarding Norway’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun.
Mr. Baruch Tenembaum
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
34 East, 67th Street
New York, NY 10065 USA
Dear Mr. Tenembaum
Thank you for your letter of 9 July, on behalf of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, expressing apprehension with regard to Norway’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun.
I would like to emphasise that the commemoration is a tribute to the literary achievements of Knut Hamsun, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920.
The Hamsun anniversary in no way condones Hamsun’s support for the Nazi regime. He received massive condemnation for this after the war, and his pro-Nazi activities must continue to be condemned.
This difficult aspect of Hamsun’s life has been debated in Norway for many years, and in fact the anniversary has intensified the public debate about all sides of his life. As a result, a nuanced and critical view of him, both as an acclaimed author and a person who sided with the Nazis who occupied Norway for five years, has developed.
I would like to point out that full reference was made to Hamsun’s Nazi sympathies at the Hamsun exhibition in Oslo earlier this year. This aspect of his life will also feature prominently in the Hamsun exhibition at the Hamsun Center in Hamarøy, where he grew up.
We believe that democracy and the education of future generations will best be served by being completely frank about these divergent aspects of Hamsun’s life.
In your letter you also refer to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF). Let me assure you that Norway stands firm in its commitment to the principles of the Stockholm Declaration on the Holocaust, which form the basis of the Task Force. As you know, Norway is currently assuming the Task Force chair.
Jonas Gahr Støre