The Norway massacres

The Norway massacres


A memorial on the shore of Tyrifjorden lake overlooking Utoeya island, where far-right gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 young people attending a Labour Party youth camp.

. Oslo, Norway. Reuters/Per Thrana

An injured man is attended to at the site of a powerful explosion that rocked central Oslo. A huge explosion damaged government buildings in central Oslo including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's office, injuring several people. The blast blew out most windows on the 17-storey building housing Stoltenberg's office, as well as nearby ministries including the oil ministry, which was on fire.

. Oslo, Norway. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

Debris is seen through the broken windows of the government building.

. Utoeya, Norway. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Covered corpses are seen on the shore of the small, wooded island of Utoeya after a suspected right-wing Christian gunman in police uniform killed at least 84 people in a ferocious attack on a youth summer camp of Norway's ruling Labour party, and hours after a bomb killed seven in Oslo. Witnesses said the gunman, identified by police as a 32-year-old Norwegian, moved across the island of Utoeya in a lake northwest of Oslo, firing at young people who scattered in panic or tried to swim to safety. Survivor Adrian Pracon, who was shot in the shoulder, says he wants to go back to the island. Audio by Adrian Pracon, survivor, 28 JUL 2011.

. Utoeya, Norway. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Rescue personnel continue in their search for the missing in Tyrifjord lake, just off Utoeya island.

. Utoeya, Norway. Scanpix/Morten Edvardsen

Youths are escorted away from a camp site. Audio by Haavard Larsen, paramedic, 28 JUL 2011.

. Oslo, Norway. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

The casket of Bano Rashid, 18, is carried to Nesodden church during the funeral ceremony near Oslo, as the nation pauses for memorial services.

. Oslo, Norway. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

Survivors and relatives mourn following a memorial service in the Oslo cathedral.

. Oslo, Norway. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

The Norwegian flag flutters at half-mast on the roof of the parliament building. Audio by Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister, 27 JUL 2011.

"I looked directly into the eyes of this man"
Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters Photographer

A lot has been written about Anders Behring Breivik, the 33 year-old Norwegian man who a year ago was unknown.

He lived completely withdrawn on a small farm far from Oslo, alone to work on his diabolical plan. He built bombs to explode in central Oslo, and in the following chaos drove to Utoeya island and shot as many teenagers as possible. In all, he killed 77 people that day.

Today, for the first time, I looked directly into the eyes of this man – the eyes of a mass murderer.

Back on the afternoon of July 22nd, I heard the first news about what was happening in downtown Oslo and on the island of Utoeya. Of course at that time, no one knew the full dimension of these two attacks. I took the very first flight from Berlin to Oslo, then drove straight through the night to Utoeya island. The first photographs I took were of survivors. As the number of victims on the island grew, clues emerged as to what terrible tragedy was hitting this country.

It was early the next morning when a colleague and I rented a boat to go to the island. Red Cross boats were everywhere, as were police searching for bodies in the Tyrifjorden lake. As we approached the island I looked through my telephoto lens at the white sheets on the shore. The closer we got, the more and more precise the details became. Shoes, jeans and feet. The bodies of the victims were still laying on the shore.

That photograph burned into my memory – the white sheets on the gray rock of Utoeya island and the eerie silence of Tyrifjorden lake, broken only by the monotonous sound of motor boats.

I came back to Oslo, to be in the the same room with defendant Breivik on the first day of his trial. It was a sunny but chilly morning and I was one of hundreds of journalists standing in a long line.

All my colleagues were in a very quiet mood, not only because they were tired but also curious about what would happen when Breivik entered the courtroom.

Passing the serious security check like at an airport, I entered the court and put myself in the next line to be one of 15 photographers allowed to enter the courtroom itself.

When I entered the room I looked for a good spot where I could see the arrival of Breivik and the place where he would sit. Around 8:30am the room was filled with relatives of the victims, survivors, the defense team of Breivik, prosecutors and journalists. The courtroom was fully occupied. It was not a big room, maybe 15 x 20 meters.

At exactly 8:53 am, Breivik entered the room, handcuffed and escorted by police officers. He wore a black suit. He stood in the front row in the center next to his lawyers. He raised his two hands up to be removed from the handcuffs by a police officer. It was quiet in the courtroom, all attention was on him.

He used this attention as soon as his right hand was free from the handcuffs. He put his clenched right hand to the left side of his chest and stretched out his arm with his fist to a salute. He wanted to provoke all.

He used the court like a stage for himself. He sat on his chair looking at the audience. It seemed as if he would smile from time to time. His eyes were bright and cold.

When the judges appeared everybody in the courtroom stood up to pay their respects. Just Breivik remained seated. He refused to accept the legitimacy of the court, and consequently didnn’t stand. The first session started.

. Oslo, Norway. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Anders Behring Breivik raises his fist as he arrives to courtroom for the first day of his trial.

Breivik said his victims, the youngest of whom was 14, were brainwashed "cultural Marxists" whose immigration policies adulterated pure Norwegian blood and risked leading to a civil war with Muslims.

He arrived at the camp dressed as a policeman, claiming to have come to protect the camp, only to pull out a gun and shoot children from point-blank range with what witnesses described as a "joyous battle cry".