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World War II

Norwegian police apologize for deportations of Jews

Norwegian police have apologized for the first time over their role in arresting and deporting over 700 Jews while under German occupation during World War II. The prime minister apologized earlier this year.

The statement came on Monday, the 70th anniversary of the first deportation of Jews, when 532 people were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

"Norwegian police officers participated in the arrest and deporation of Jews," said police chief Odd Reidar Humlegaard.

"It is fitting that I express my regret for the role police played in the arrest and deportation of these completely innocent victims," he added.

Norway's role

German forces occupied Norway from April 9, 1940 to May 8, 1945. Norway's leader during the occupation, Vidkun Quisling, ordered the registration of Jews in 1942, and the state was complicit in their deportation.

After the war, individual members of the Norwegian police were convicted of varying crimes, including torture and executions.

Norway's government acknowledged its role in the affair in 1998 and paid approximately $60 million (46 million euros) to Norwegian Jews and Jewish organizations for lost property.

The state controversially did not issue a full apology at the time, but in May of this year Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg made a formal apology.

"I could say it was about time, but it was good to hear," said 89-year-old Samuel Steinman, the only surviving Norwegian Jewish deportee.

Deportations during the war

Of the 772 Norwegian Jews and Jewish refugees deported to Nazi concentration camps, only 34 survived the war.

The Jewish population of Norway increased from 1,700 before the war to 2,100 by 1942, as refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia fled mainland Europe.

dr/pfd (dpa, Reuters)