The canons at Akershus in Oslo and other fortresses around Norway will be fired, but the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Norway in 1945 will otherwise be quietly observed on May 8th. It’s yet another major event spoiled by the Corona virus crisis.
“Liberation Day on the 8th of May in 1945 is one of the greatest events in Norway’s history,” Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen declared at another government press conference this week. “This year we should mark 75 years of freedom, but unfortunately we can’t, because of the Corona virus.”
Government members intent on social distancing and adhering to Norway’s strict Corona containment measures won’t be taking part in any local events around the country. Ceremonial events at the Akershus Fortress and Castle in Oslo will take place without any members of the public present.
The government isn’t actually cancelling Liberation Day, which also coincides with Norway’s version of Veterans’ Day, but scaling it back dramatically. Bakke-Jensen noted that there are “steadily fewer” World War II veterans able to take part in memorial ceremonies. Since many other military veterans are elderly, they also are at high risk of being infected by the virus.
“To limit the danger of infection, the program at Akershus will only consist of wreath-layings, raising the flag and a military salute,” Bakke-Jensen said. “No guests will be invited and the events will not be open to the public.” He added that the government will pay special tribute next year to those who took part in both military and civilian resistance to the Nazi German occupation of Norway from 1940-1945.
Even though hopes remain that some of the strictest anti-Corona measures will be scaled back by May, Health Minister Bent Høie said Norwegians will be expected to keep contributing towards limiting the spread of the virus. “That means we’ll need to keep our distance, and not have too many people gathering in one place,” Høie said. Constitution Day festivities on the 17th of May have already been cancelled in at least on Norwegian city and are likely to be cancelled or greatly scaled back elsewhere too.
Bakke-Jensen stressed that the veterans “deserve our respect” and that peace and freedom have come at a high price. “We must never forget this important part of our history,” he said. “May 8th reminds us that others have fought and made sacrifices for our freedom. They shall have their share of the honour for that.”
The events that will take place on May 8th will be covered by Norwegian media for others to follow from a distance.