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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Oslo opens Holocaust study centre
The Holocaust Centre in Oslo
Villa Grande: Quisling's house is a symbol of the occupation
A mansion used by the Norwegian Nazi collaborator Vidkun Quisling has been turned into a Holocaust research centre in the capital Oslo.

After World War II "Quisling" became synonymous with "traitor".

The centre's work will focus on the Nazi genocide of millions of Jews, but will also examine the persecution of other minorities.

More than 750 of Norway's Jews, who numbered about 1,800 before the war, died in the Holocaust.

"There is a huge symbolism here", said the centre's director Odd-Bjorn Fure.

We will try to focus a spotlight on racist policies towards different groups
Odd-Bjorn Fure
Holocaust centre's director

"We will try to focus a spotlight on racist policies towards different groups," he told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

He believes the centre will shed new light on Norwegian complicity in deporting many of the country's Jews during the war.

Further research

Mr Fure says the Quisling puppet government was planning to deport the country's Romany people as well. Researchers at the centre will look into this issue.

Retired general Bjoern Egge inside the Holocaust centre in Oslo
Bjoern Egge had the idea of turning Villa Grande into a Holocaust centre

When German troops invaded Norway in 1940, Quisling proclaimed himself "Minister President", and moved into Villa Grande with his wife in 1941. He was executed in 1945.

The 4,000 sq m (43,000 sq ft) house and surrounding two-hectare (five-acre) estate was used for housing Allied troops after the war.

In 2000, the Norwegian government promised to donate Villa Grande to the Holocaust centre as part of a compensation package for Norwegian Jews.

The idea of turning the mansion into a Holocaust centre came from Bjoern Egge, who was a Norwegian soldier during the Nazi invasion and spent some time with deported Jews during his three years as a prisoner of war in Sachsenhausen, Germany.

Nazi slogan crossed out in black on the wall in the bunker at the Holocaust centre
Grim reminders of the past in the bunker of Villa Grande

"I shared the fate of the Jews at Sachsenhausen, and I saw them disappear into the gas chambers," the 88-year-old retired general told the Associated Press news agency.

The centre's director stresses that it is not just a museum but will do a lot of research.

"Our primary concern is the future. We are not just absorbed with the past in itself, but want to follow the threads that run through history and which unfortunately lead to genocide in our time," Mr Fure said.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Holocaust Day
27 Jan 06 |  In Pictures

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