Nazis charged with murder

Five well-known Nazis have been charged with premeditated murder by Oslo Police, after fifteen-year-old Benjamin Hermansen was stabbed to death outside his home in the city on 27 January. Four days later 40,000 furious citizens took to the streets to demonstrate their disgust at the murder in the biggest demonstration ever seen in postwar Norway.

Benjamin Hermansen was a cheerful youngster with lots of friends. He was active in sport and was an outspoken anti-racist. The fact that the boy, who had a Ghanaian father and a Norwegian mother, was black seems to be the only reason  his life was so brutally ended with several knife wounds.

On the fatal evening, Benjamin had gone out to exchange mobile phone-covers with a friend. Just outside his home, however, a carload of nazi goons pulled up and Benjamin and his friend were immediately attacked.

Police apparently knew where to look for his killers and Ole Nicolai Kvisler, Petter Gundersen, Espen Lauritsen and two seventeen-year-old girls, all connected with the Bootboys nazi group were quickly arrested and a formidable international dragnet was launched  for their main suspect, Joe Erling Jahr.

While they boast on their websites that there are no police informers in their ranks, Norwegian nazis are quick to rat on their comrades-in-crime when confronted with the law. Thus, Ole Nicolai Kvisler put the whole blame for the stabbing on Jahr, claiming that he himself only wanted to “scare” Hermansen.

According to his friend, Benjamin had tried to run away from the nazis, but slipped on the ice and fell, after jumping over a fence. One of the nazis, probably Jahr, if Kvisler´s statement is correct, jumped on him while he was lying on the ground, and then stabbed him several times in the upper part of his body. Benjamin was declared dead a mere 45 minutes later.

The Norwegian nazi scene has become increasingly brutal over the last couple of years and it was only a matter of time before someone was killed. The nazis  have launched several attacks on young immigrants, some of them involving the use of knives or other lethal weapons. By killing Benjamin Hermansen, the Norwegian Nazis have finally managed to confirm the urgent warnings issued by anti-fascist researchers for more than a year.

Such warnings ­ mainly addressed to the authorities ­ have been routinely ignored, a scandalous situation  exemplified when the Norwegian Association Against Anti-Semitism revealed that three of the suspects in Benjamin´s murder had, in fact, all been in police hands after another violent assault in mid-December but were subsequently released on bail.  Lauritsen, it has emerged, was also waiting to serve an eight months jail sentence for arson.

While the big support for the anti-immigrant populist Progress Party is a disgrace to Norway, the absence of support for openly nazi groups and a genuinely popular hatred of fascism, are products of the country´s proud wartime resistance to Hitler’s Nazi invaders and his collaborationist stooge, Vidkun Quisling.

When Benjamin’s murder hit the headlines, it prompted gigantic public outrage. Representatives of the government, the trades unions, the church and various celebrities all expressed their anger and sorrow. The Oslo Anti-racist Centre and the Norwegian Red Cross also reacted quickly by announcing a torch lit protest march for 1 February with the expectation that at least 20,000 people would take part. 60,000 persons signed a memorial petition for Benjamin on the Internet in the first 48 hours, and all the major newspapers, to their credit, helped mobilise for the demonstration.

On the evening of the march, forecasts of numbers attending were exceeded.  With speakers including prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, Oslo´s bishop, Gunnar Stålsett and the city´s mayor, Per Ditlev Simonsen, 40,000 people ­ 8% of the entire population of the city ­ rallied on a very cold night, with Prince Haakon, his fiancée Mette-Marit Tjessem Høyby, and Princess Märtha Luise as the most prominent participants. Oslo´s director of education, assisted by urging all schools to participate in the demonstration. The end result sent an unmistakable signal to the Nazis and to the whole country: the people of Oslo do not and will not accept Nazis or the racist violence they bring with them.

Just as the demonstration was coming to an end outside Oslo´s University, Joe Erling Jahr was being arrested on a local tram outside Copenhagen in Denmark. Despite the fact that he had about £80 in his pocket, he had failed to buy a £1 train ticket and was picked up in a routine ticket check. A Danish court has now extradited him to Norway.

Six days after his murder, Benjamin Hermansen was buried. Despite the fact that he was not a member of the Norwegian Church, the funeral was held in his local church, with the Bishop of Oslo as main speaker. Over a thousand people came to pay their last respects.  At the same time, memorial ceremonies were held in schools throughout Norway while, in Oslo,  all schools held a minute’s silence at 12.10.

Oslo has not seen such an anti-fascist mobilisation since the end of the Second World War and Norway has never seen so many terrified Nazis scurrying for a place to hide since the Red Army kicked them out of northern Norway in 1945. As we said in the September edition of Searchlight: “Five years of anti-fascist resistance during the war taught the Norwegian people a lesson:
Nazis belong in handcuffs or in the gutters.”

Several public figures, including the prime minister, have stated that the big issue now is to fight “day-to-day racism”. If this is meant seriously, they will hopefully start by isolating Carl I. Hagen´s semi-racist Progress Party in parliament, and by implementing a much more human and dignified treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers.


Andre artikler       |     Tilbake til forsiden