Solberg says D-Day reminds us that freedom does not come free of charge

Prime Minister Erna SolbergNorwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, second left, arrives for an event to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth, England Wednesday, June 5, 2019. World leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump are gathering Wednesday on the south coast of England to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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When the witnesses disappear, a greater responsibility rests on all of us to keep the war’s history alive emphasised Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Høyre (H).

‘’It is a great honour for me to participate in this and represent Norway.

This is one of the great moments in what is our modern history, what became the liberation of Norway in 1945’’ Solberg told NTB news.

More than 300 veterans attended the 75th anniversary of D Day being celebrated in the UK and France this week. For many of them it will be the last time. The certainty hung heavily over the event that the time will soon come when no one is left.

‘’When the witnesses disappear, it is important that the rest of us keep this alive. First of all, the great allied cooperation that this was.’’

Solberg was present in Portsmouth on the English south coast, where the memorial celebration started on Wednesday.

The Norwegian Prime Minister also pointed out how Norway managed to build up quite large forces abroad.

‘’Norwegian youth who risked their lives in Europe. All of this we must help to remember, and that the freedom we have has not come freely’’ she said.

Two Norwegian veterans were invited to join her in Portsmouth, but had to say thank you, but ‘no’ for health reasons.

On Thursday, however, one Norwegian veteran, 97-year-old Trygve Hansen, participated in Normandy in France. He joined the Norwegian Navy when he was on his way home from whaling in Antarctica in April 1940.

He then received training at Camp Norway in Lunenburg, Canada, and served on several ships. When the invasion of Normandy started, Hansen was part of the crew of “Stord”.

Trump present

US President Donald Trump was among the guests during Wednesday’s memorial. Solberg emphasised that the transatlantic relationship has been very important for Europe’s freedom through two world wars.

‘’The transatlantic relationship means very much for Norway. We have a close military and security policy relationship with the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries that are Atlantic-oriented’’ she said.

Solberg believes such memorials are important for strengthening the security policy relationships.

‘’Under Trump, it is actually closer to security policy cooperation than it has been in recent years with others. He is much present in NATO and in European cooperation’’ she said.

Defeated Nazi Germany

D-Day was the start of “Operation Overlord”, the largest invasion ever carried out from the sea. More than 130,000 Allied soldiers took part in the operation, which was the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

On August 25th, the Allied forces succeeded in releasing Paris, and a few days later, the operation was completed when German forces withdrew across the Seine.

Norway participated with both air squadrons and ships, and a number of Norwegians also gave their lives.

The Norwegian ship, “Svenner”, who was the sister ship to “Stord”, was sunk by a German torpedo in the early morning of the D-Day.

Of a crew of 230, 33 lost their lives.

A memorial plate in memory of the Norwegian lives lost will be unveiled at Hermanville-sur-Mer in Normandy on Friday.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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