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Norway

Crown Prince Haakon speaks of inclusivity on anniversary of racist murder that shocked Norway

Crown Prince Haakon in January 2021
Photo by Simen Sund / The Royal Court

Crown Prince Haakon has commemorated the murder of Benjamin Hermansen, twenty years after his racial killing shocked Norway. The Crown Prince sent a digital message on the 20th anniversary of his death.

Benjamin Hermansen was killed in the infamous “Holmila-murder” on January 26 in 2001. He was just 15 years old and he was killed because he was black. Two Norwegian neo-Nazis were later convicted of the murder. Benjamin’s death had a deep impact across Norway and is considered to have had a major effect the on the Norwegian anti-racism movement.

Despite strict infection control measures, several hundred candles had been lit by a bust of the killed 15-year-old which has been erected at the place where he was killed. The Crown Prince wanted to participate in person in the commemoration but due to the strict infection control rules he had to take part remotely. In his digital message, Crown Prince Haakon said: “I want to thank all of you who every day stand up for a better society. A society that is safe and inclusive for all.”

The murder of Benjamin made a deep impression on an entire nation. Following the murder in 2001, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Martha Louise, along with many thousands of others, took part in torchlight processions through the streets of Oslo to commemorate the young boy and to show that Norway will not accept racism and violence. More than 40.000 people participated in the torchlight procession in 2001. In 2002, Crown Prince Haakon met Marit Hermansen, Benjamin’s mother.

After the murder of Benjamin Hermansen at Holmlia at the end of January 2001, King Harald was asked what we should all do now to avoid a similar killing in the future. Of course, no precise answer could be given, but he encouraged everyone “to look at their own actions”, to think about whether there is something each and every one has done that could have contributed directly or indirectly to the basis of hate, and to ask ourselves what we can do to remove the basis for something similar to happen again. In 2011, His Majesty King Harald visited Holmlia School during events to remember Benjamin on the 10th anniversary of his murder in 2011.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.