Thousands gathered in Oslo Sunday for a memorial service and concert in memory of the 77 people killed by Anders Behring Breivik on July 22.
Thousands of victims’ relatives and survivors of last month’s massacre by right-wing zealot Anders Behring Breivik gathered Sunday in Oslo for a memorial ceremony that sought to bring closure to Norway’s worst tragedy since World War II.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the ceremony was a way to show the country’s appreciation for those who helped in the wake of the bombing of government buildings in Oslo and the shooting spree at the island of Utøya that together killed 77 people on “that black Friday,” July 22.
The prime minister highlighted three tasks for Norwegians moving forward: taking care of those who were still mourning, meeting extremists with discourse, and creating a safe society, both through the police and through individuals safeguarding freedom.
“Together we link an unbreakable chain of care, democracy, and security,” said Mr. Stoltenberg in a speech that drew a standing ovation. “It is our protection against violence.”
The emotional ceremony was marked by Norwegian Royal Majesty King Harald breaking into small sobs just minutes into his speech. One man over laden with grief had to be pulled out of the ceremony in the middle of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, shortly after all 77 names and images of the deceased, mostly teenagers, had been shown on screen.
“The most difficult is to see the pictures and the names,” Stoltenberg told reporters after the ceremony. “When you see them all together, you really comprehend the scope of the tragedy.”
Stoltenberg personally knew several of those were killed at Utøya, home to a political summer youth camp for the Labour party which he also attended in his early years, as well as those killed in the car bomb blast just outside the prime minister’s office.