For the first time, all of Norway’s roughly 3,000 war memorials have been compiled in a new register that soon will be available online. The list is a result of years of work spearheaded by Forsvarsmuseet (The Armed Forces Museum) in Oslo.
Museum officials have been trying since 1979 to launch an accurate register of Norway’s war memorials, many of which were set up by local groups in small towns and villages all over the country. Newspaper Aftenposten reported this week that efforts increased in 1989, when the museum tried to get local municipalities to complete and certify an overview it had compiled of war memorials, but the project stranded over a lack of resources at the local level.
The war memorial listing simply didn’t seem to be a priority, but the museum didn’t give up. In 1994, the Norwegian reserve officers’ association proposed compiling all the memorials from World War II in the form of a book, but that project was never realized either.
In 2000, the museum tried to get students at Norwegian junior high schools to take part in a memorial registration effort, but the schools also claimed they lacked resources to carry out the effort and there was no follow-up.
Finally, in 2002, the museum and the civil defense organization Heimevernet (HV) established a nationwide project that registered around 3,000 war memorials over a three-year period. “The foundation for the unique database that emerged was laid by volunteer members of HV who worked from 2002 until 2005 to register all the country’s war memorials,” Torstein Arisholm of the Armed Forces Museum told Aftenposten. “After so many attempts to organize a register, all the HV districts got involved.”
Arisholm said around 150 people worked on the project that’s due to be published online, at the website www.digitalmuseum.no from November 22. The website is partly financed by the Norwegian cultural council Norsk kulturråd.
The memorials include everything from statues and monuments to a small plaque mounted on a bench. The last memorial entered in the register was the new statue of resistance hero Max Manus, which was unveiled at the Akershus Fortress in June.
Each memorial is illustrated with one or more photographs and a short written description. Anyone with more information or feeling a need to make corrections can contribute to the project by using an e-mail address attached to the website. “We think many people have both opinions and strong feelings tied to the memorials,” Arisholm said. “That can be a unique source of support.”
Col. Runar Gjerald of the museum said the memorials “remind us of bravery and resistance and symbolize fundamental values of defense. We’re proud to help make this contribution to the country’s collective memory.”
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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