May 8th, 2020 is the 75th Anniversary
His Majesty King Harald V speech at the commemoration of the Liberation anniversary, Akershus Fortress, 8 May 2015
“President of the Storting Prime Minister “Ministers
“Peace is not a given. It is not today, and neither was it 70 years ago.
“Behind the roar of cheers in the May days of 1945 was the seriousness of what we had experienced and learned: that peace, freedom and democracy is not something we can take for granted. These values must be built, protected – and if necessary, defended with our lives at stake. Also today innocent people worldwide experience war and conflict. Every day some of them lose their freedom, and every day some lose loved ones.
“Through five long years Norway fought alone and with our allies. The decisive battles took place outside our country’s borders. But here at home, there was shown the spirit of sacrifice and heroism that today invokes admiration and enthusiasm.
“Some were hit harder than others. Of 772 Norwegian Jews and Jewish refugees who were arrested and deported through the war years, only 34 survived. Today also Jews and other minorities across Europe experience threats and or even murder. Hate speech we also experience in this country.
“Hatred and prejudice makes us less. Decency makes us greater.
“70 years ago I was eight years old. During the war I was a refugee in the United States – along with my mother and my sisters. Meanwhile, my father and grandfather, the Administration and the Norwegian government found protection in Great Britain. From there they were able to lead the resistance work and maintain the hope of regaining our freedom.
“Many countries and people are still waiting for their 8th of May. Even today many fight for freedom and democracy. As a consequence of war and conflict, they must travel from those they love.
“A refugee carries not only his personal wounds, but also a people’s hope for a new beginning. On 8 May, Norway gained a second chance. May 8 is the day to remember the dead and thank the living. More will today get their deserved honor. Still, many carry on the war burdens of grief and loss.
“Much is different from 1945. but much is also the same. In their farewell “Hjemmefronten” (Norwegian Homefront resistance) wrote: “…we must face each other on purpose in understanding and mutual trust”. It is magnanimous advice that we still do well to take with us both as individuals and as a people.
“When we take care of each other, we also take care of peace.
“To all who fought during the five long years. To all veterans – young and old. To all who fight against war and injustice – and for peace and freedom, democracy and human rights: we shall never forget April 9th, and we will always remember May 8th.”
I was at Akershus Fortress on May 8th, 2015 and heard most of His Majesty’s speech given in the fiery tone you read it here. For an “old guy” like His Majesty that is something. This is my personal translation from the Norwegian. To my knowledge, it was never published by theRoyal House in English, as it was meant for Norwegian ears and given in Norwegian. And yet, forgive me, it is both a timely and timeless speech, with overreaching universal appeal. When I was writing this on a white board at a school in Seattle to check my translation, a Nigerian man, a custodian, was reading over my shoulder. He ask me , “Who said these words?” I said it was the King of Norway on Liberation Day. He then told me, “This is the story of my country you are writing.”
The King of Norway does not waste time or mince words. I compare this speech to that of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” or to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream.” Read it again.
Norway, and all the Scandinavian countries, were recognized by B’nai Brith and independently by the Israeli Diet – “Chosen Among Nations”, a high honour, for their resistance to Fascism, their sacrifice and defense of Jewish refugees now and in the past.
MORE ON Liberation Day – two movies