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From here to hell and back

Forfatter: Anne-Britt Harsem
Forlag: Cappelen Forlag (Oslo)
THE EQUIPMENT / New book about the traumas of the neighbors. It is assumed that the volunteer women and men at Utøya transported more than 250 terrified young people to safety. At the same time, the police and the emergency services failed.


I Neighbors gives Anne-Britt Harsem the reader an insight into the dramatic hours where one follows the volunteer helpers, women and men around Utoya during the terrorist attack on July 22, 2011.

She presents five different perceptions of reality and later even more stories about what it was like to participate in the rescue work – and how these have had it in the time since. Cruel and exciting depictions. It will be completely unadorned and horrible – with each person their own words. Briefly and brutally, the horrible experiences are painted over. It can not be done differently.

The book also tells about the time after the terrorist attack where some of the locals struggle with stress and how these four letters PTSD ("post-traumatic stress disorder") manifest in the body. There are many who are still struggling and parts of the local population feel overwhelmed, they experience being respected and taken into account by many.

The book is divided into three main parts. The first about the actual events during the terrorist attack around Utøya in the Tyrifjord. In two subsequent parts, it is about the time after the events of July 22 – about the struggle to relate to the cruel experiences in retrospect. The exhausting battle against the location of the memorial takes up a lot of space. 16 people sued against the choice of the location of the national memorial on the land side. Lots of residents along Beached out would have another location up by the E16 on Utsikten – this to reduce the load of visitors to the place. The plaintiffs lost in Ringerike District Court, and have not appealed.

The emergency services AMK sat waiting on the road and the police just stood and stared.

The depictions of the dramatic events are probably not exhaustive – and seem subjectively presented. It just has to be this way – these depictions are allowed to stand. It is estimated that 50 to 60 private individuals became involved in the rescue operation – while the emergency services AMK sat waiting on the road and the police just stood and stared.

The descriptions are partly about private experiences and descriptions about some of the fallen and injured young people who were on the run to save their own lives. It is also about those who did not come home – the personal burdens of those involved are great.

None of the parties mentioned in the section on memorials or court settlements – be it Utøya as, Nasjonal Støttegruppe, Hole municipality or the state are given the opportunity to contradict or comment on the allegations in the book. The book therefore becomes a "witness to the truth" where some of the many volunteers are allowed to express themselves quite freely. It's good. Now it's their turn. In this picture the book works.

The controversy over the memorial

How Utøya as and Nasjonal Støttegruppe after 22 July handle their interests in the placement of the new the memorial strongly criticized in the book. Likewise, Hole municipality, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, the state and Ringerike District Court have their passports endorsed – as well as the National Knowledge Center on violence and traumatic stress.

This is an angry book. Three of the main characters end their strong experiences by writing that they do not trust the state. For those of us who are familiar with the internal conditions surrounding the memorial and attempts by the authorities to reach an agreed solution, the criticism is perceived as unreasonable and unfair. Many have done the best they could and under demanding conditions.

Anne-Britt Harsem

Harsem should be honored that she has taken the time to go into the heavy and demanding processes. It must have been tiring. The publisher Cappelen is bold who publishes a book that is a one-sided post – but perhaps it will be a basis for public debate.

The book ends with the trial in Ringerike District Court. The losing party's lawyer is given the opportunity to present detailed descriptions in a separate chapter – and this becomes subjective. The lost case against the state and the memorial will be completed on Utstrandakaia hopefully by the July 22 celebration in 2022. It may well be where many want peace. Two of the plaintiffs have moved from Hole municipality as a result.

Sat on the sideline

Book title Neighbors is adequate in that a few are given the opportunity to promote their perceptions of the course of events. It is not representative of the majority of those who live along Utstranda, the undersigned are told. They also have objections – as there are many other neighbors who think otherwise. It does not appear what these mean, they have not been given a place.

The publisher Cappelen is djerve who publishes a book that is a one-sided post.

Many relatives perceive the delays and the dispute over the memorial as untimely and inappropriate. During the trial, some of these neighbors testified against the plaintiff's claim of a partial lack of democratic treatment of the case.

Develop camping, Photo Bjørn Ilaug.

Hole municipality was in principle put on the sidelines where the state regulation forced the location and scope of the project. There is talk that 650 million has been spent so far, perhaps 850 million. A third alternative, set up on Utsikten, was not studied. The scope of the construction process itself has exceeded everyone's expectations. But neither party can be blamed for the cost overruns. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration and Statsbygg's technical requirements for building regulations and safety will be governing. AUF and Utøya as get their memorial on the land side on their own land.

Worth reading?

Is the book worth reading? Absolutely to the very highest degree, especially for those involved – and there are many in Norway. It is estimated that as many as two million people are affected in closer relationships.

What can one learn from reading the book? First and foremost about the atrocities on and around Utøya on July 22, 2011. And what consequences the formidable system failure resulted in. Also how some of us are put to the test and consist of the task where you put your own lives in danger and throw yourself into heroism. One made a difference and many lives were saved. It's hard to stop reading. Short sentences. Cruel depictions. One is almost out of breath. It is difficult to put the book down.

I think that participants in this book should be commended for their sincerity and effort. It is difficult to enter into matter. The experiences in the terrorist attack on July 22 cannot be told enough. You have to go many rounds and let all the parties involved finish talking. This need will be urgent for many for many years to come. It is estimated that the volunteer women and men transported more than 250 terrified youths to safety. They made sure that a large number of seriously injured people were still alive. The Utøya generation has now been elected to the Storting.

One last question can be asked. What makes someone lose their mind and throw themselves uncritically into a life-threatening situation to save others? I think a lot of these good women and men would say, I just did it.

[p.s. Ilaug himself failed to comment on the different versions and experiences described especially around Utøya in the book. This in respect of the volunteers' efforts and the opportunity to present their experiences unsaid or abbreviated. He himself participated in the rescue work and can confirm similar experiences.]


Bjørn Kasper ILaug
Bjørn Kasper ILaug
Ilaug is educated in marketing and computer science. He made a name for himself for his participation in the rescue work during the terrorist attack on Utøya on July 22, 2011. Ilaug was among the volunteer helpers who were named "Name of the Year" by the newspaper VG in 2011 and who in 2012 were awarded the Torstein Dale Memorial Prize by the Red Cross in Norway, and honored by the Norwegian Lifesaving Society. In the King's Council of State on 15 June 2012, Ilaug was awarded the Medal for noble deed in silver.

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