OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian police apologised for the first time on Monday for their complicity in the deportation and murder of over 700 Jews during the Nazi occupation in World War Two, just months after the prime minister made a formal apology.
“Norwegian police officers participated in the arrest and deportation of Jews,” police chief Odd Reidar Humlegaard said on the 70th anniversary of Norway deporting the first group of Jews to Auschwitz.
“It is fitting that I express my regret for the role police played in the arrest and deportation of these completely innocent victims,” he said.
Vidkun Quisling, Norway’s leader during the Nazi occupation whose name has become a synonym for traitor, ordered the registration of Jews in 1942 and the state apparatus played a complicit role in their eventual deportation.
Norway acknowledged the state’s role in 1998 and paid some $60 million to Norwegian Jews and Jewish organisations in compensation for property seized.
But the move fell short of a full apology, causing further national debate and the establishment of a Holocaust research centre. Current prime minister Jens Stoltenberg only made a formal apology earlier this year.
Norway’s Jewish population rose to around 2,100 by 1942 from 1,700 before the war as refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia fled the continent.
Authorities eventually deported 772, of whom only 34 survived. Others either stayed in hiding or fled to neighbouring Sweden, which protected its Jewish population and also accepted around 8,000 Danish Jews.
Editing by Greg Mahlich