For a Nazi Outpost, An Ethical Retrofit

By James Kilner
Sunday, November 20, 2005

OSLO -- The bright sun sparkles on the cold waters of the fjord, forcing the gray-haired man to squint slightly.

"This is where I come to think," Odd Bjorn Fure says without breaking his gaze.

From a balcony on the central tower of the fortresslike Villa Grande, he stares out over the treetops toward a cargo ship heading slowly out to sea.

"And I'm sure Quisling came here to think, too," he adds.

Vidkun Quisling was the head of Norway's collaborationist government during the 1940-45 Nazi occupation, and the imposing Villa Grande was his home and headquarters.

"This is a house that has a strong aura of power and an authoritarian style. It was marvelous for his purposes," Fure had said earlier in his office, Quisling's former bedroom.

Now the history professor and his team have moved in, and in the rooms where Quisling entertained his Nazi masters, they exhibit and study the Holocaust and other 20th-century genocides.

And Fure wants to take the study of the Holocaust a step further.

He wants to explore the links between the breakdown of society in the Holocaust and the fracturing of relations between Muslims and Christian Europeans today.

By next year, 10 researchers from across the world and a resident academic will work at the HL Senter in Villa Grande. The H stands for Holocaust and the L for livssynsminoriteter , the Norwegian word for religious or ethnic minority.

"We will work on constructing models on how Muslim societies can live peacefully within predominantly Christian societies by looking back at the Holocaust," he said.

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