For Norway, A Horrific Memory Lingers

The Holiday season is a time for cheer. But in Norway, the memory of the horrific bombing and shooting seven months ago, still lingers. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Anders Gaiever, a Norwegian newspaper columnist, about what he remembers from that day, and how the man who carried out the attacks might avoid jail time.

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On a Friday night this past July, it was July 22nd to be exact, we began to hear details about a shooting in Norway. Now, at first, it seemed like an isolated incident. But by Saturday morning, the full extent of the attacks started to become clear. A series of explosions, and then the systematic killing of dozens of young people by an extreme right wing gunman named Anders Behring Breivik.

That morning, we called journalist Anders Giaever. He's a columnist at one of Norway's largest newspapers and he was shaken.

ANDERS GIAEVER: We heard a shattering of the glass before we heard the explosion, because they all shattered around us. We are in this big steel and glass structure. And then we heard a big explosion. I knew immediately that this was a bomb.

RAZ: That's Anders Giaever just after the attacks that killed 77 people in Norway. And Anders Giaever joins me once again from Oslo to catch up on what is going on in the country. Anders, thanks for being with us.

GIAEVER: Oh, my pleasure.

RAZ: It's probably difficult to answer this, but has Norway, in a sense, sort of moved on from what happened in July?

GIAEVER: Well, I don't think we have totally moved on. We're still right in the middle of it. Some news every day. It's a big conversation piece. But we have buried our dead and we have started the discussion about responsibility. So, in a way, we are moving on, but we haven't really moved away from it yet.

RAZ: What about Anders Behring Breivik? He has been declared insane by some state psychiatrist. What is the status of his trial?

GIAEVER: He's probably going to be declared the insanity plea, that he didn't really know what he was doing.

RAZ: So, if he does end up in a mental institution, he might just stay there for a few years, right?

GIAEVER: You know, the whole theory about putting people to mental institutions thinks that they have a disease and through medication and therapy they are going to get well again. Some people are saying that this will never happen to Anders Behring Breivik, that he's too dangerous to ever be set free again. But there really is no guarantee.

RAZ: I know that, having been in Norway, that Christmas is a particularly important time of year. Does it feel like a normal Christmas or has this summer's attacks...

GIAEVER: Oh, this is not a normal Christmas, not by a long shot. I mean, from where I'm standing, I'm watching a Christmas tree right in front of the government building, where you still see all the destruction. So, it's not a normal Christmas. But we are better off now than we were three months ago and we are getting there.

RAZ: That's Anders Giaever. He's a columnist for the Norwegian newspaper, Verdens Gang. He spoke to us back in July after those attacks. Anders, thanks so much for the update and happy holidays to you.

GIAEVER: You too.


RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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