The use of Nazi imagery at a Trondheim student party is cause for alarm

Given the wartime occupation, a Norwegian university should have intervened in a 'Political Incorrect' party thrown by its students

December 22, 2017 11:21

An incident in Trondheim last month has shed a spotlight on how casually Nazi imagery can be used – and how little scrutiny it can receive.

The controversy was triggered by a “Politically Incorrect” party at a student union building in the city, where the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is situated.

Students entering the bar that night were greeted by a doorman bearing a mock firearm and provided with an “entry visa” bearing Hitler’s image. The bar staff wore Nazi-style uniforms while the drinks menu offered cocktails with names like “Auschwitz”, “Blitzkrieg” and “Mein Kampf”.

The event itself was scandalous, of course, although it is always worth remembering students do often exercise poor judgment. Remember, for instance, Prince Harry’s choice of Nazi desert uniform and swastika armband to a private fancy-dress party 12 years ago.

And there was plenty of criticism in Norway at the time from the Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities, and from Evrin Kohn, deputy director of the Norwegian Centre Against Racism.

“This was supposed to be a party with the theme ‘politically incorrect’ but unfortunately it went to [sic] far,” the student union said in an apology on its Facebook page.

“The party was supposed to make a mockery of the Nazi movement, and the anti-Nazi propaganda on the walls tried to highlight this.

“We are sorry that this [message] was not conveyed well enough.”

But Norway spent many years under German occupation during the Second World War and this is why, as a representative from the Jewish Museum told local Trondheim newspaper Adressavisen, even playing with Nazi symbolism is deeply problematic.

Under the occupation, most Norwegian Jews perished if they did not go into hiding or flee the country. Hundreds were rounded up and deported on ships to continental Europe during the war, including 532 Jewish men, women and children on a single ship, the Donau, on 26 November 1942.

Last month was the 75th anniversary of that notorious event, marked in a remembrance service attended by Crown Princess Mette Marit. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg used the occasion to repeat an apology for the deportation first uttered by her predecessor Jens Stoltenberg in 2012.

What still remains troubling about the Trondheim incident is the university’s reluctance to intervene directly.

There will be no formal reprimand for the students who planned last month’s party. The university itself told the JC this was because the party did not take part on campus and the student union is an independent body. But it is NTNU that funds the student union to the tune of £157,000 per year.

Student news website reported NTNU students as saying the party would influence their habit of visiting the union bar in the future.

And for one Trondheim student writing in Adresseavisen, the local newspaper, the destination of the money is deeply important.

Her great-grandfather was murdered in the concentration camps, she said, prompting her to ask: “Did my membership fee go towards the hire of SS uniforms?”

December 22, 2017 11:21

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