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Would you rent a holiday cabin that was built for a notorious Nazi collaborator? Perhaps surprisingly, it's something you can do in Norway - and few people seem to mind. Scottish novelist Ben McPherson, who lives in Norway, found this lack of fuss hard to understand.
So he went to investigate. I think I might be annoying my Norwegian wife. My wife eyes me warily. She's the one who told me about the cabin. Now I'm accusing her country of a moral failing. When Norway was invaded by German forces inVidkun Quisling was delighted to see them.
He had based his National Union party on the Nazis, and was duly installed as a puppet leader by the occupiers. His name gave us the English word "quisling": it means a lackey, a traitor, a bootlicker.
So surely his cabin should be off limits to visitors? Britain may be tearing itself apart over what to do with controversial statues, but Norwegians are often more relaxed about Nazi buildings. The summer cabin is where Norwegians go to relax, and it enjoys an almost religious status - a place to fish, to gather berries, to chop wood. Enkelt og greitpeople say - simple and good. It's all about reconnecting with nature, physically and emotionally.
In his time Quisling was viewed as a dashing, heroic outdoor type. To modern eyes that's hard to understand: in his crumpled suit, with his neat side parting, he looks like a filing clerk. We don't see the tall, blond soldier and man Use my wife bbc action some saw then. Quisling even managed to convince Hitler that he represented an ideal of Aryan manhood. Inthe Nazis installed him as prime minister. Once in power, he oversaw the deportation of a third of the country's Jews to extermination camps.
Most of the rest escaped to other countries. Quisling commissioned his cabin as a sauna, but no-one seems to know when. It's a traditional little structure made of dark wood logs, with grass growing from the roof for insulation. He never got to use it, though. The war ended before he could fire up the coals, and he was executed by firing squad - a true quisling's death. Modern Norway is the kind of rights-based social democracy Quisling would have hated, with a progressive attitude to gay rights and a large immigrant population.
Now a new generation has started asking difficult questions about the country's wartime past, yet until very recently the war stories people wanted to hear emphasised Norwegian heroism and resistance. Quisling was simply not part of the national conversation. Still, in what possible world do you turn the sauna cabin of a collaborationist leader into a tourist destination?
But she doesn't object when I suggest taking our year-old son. And so I book, and we go. There it is, on an island, a simple log cabin on a rise overlooking the fjord. It's pretty from a distance; you'd never know that it was built by a murderous, unapologetic Nazi. Sleeps four. They're not trying to profit from the association, but you really could rent it and not know. My English friend Nick took his two young children to stay there. By mistake. There are ducks and goats. It was great, before you told me what it was.
Not every Norwegian sees "Quisling" as a synonym for traitor. To Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people inhe was a role model. That chilling little phrase - a "national romantic experience" My wife thinks that using it as a cabin diminishes its power.
When I ask Thorgeir, a Norwegian friend, what he thinks, he agrees. Be wrong to burn it to the ground. Will there be an atmosphere, I wonder? I want to see how my Norwegian son reacts. But… Quisling's cabin is unexceptional. Yes, there's the image of a woodcutter carved into the front door, and yes, it's the kind of Nordic folk art the Nazis loved. But ordinary Norwegians like wood carvings too. Inside, the woodwork is clean, white-painted. There are cheerful carvings of crabs and crayfish in the kitchen area, and shelves full of cleaning products and insect sprays.
A toilet roll hangs on the wall beside a dustpan and brush, for use at the outside toilet. My son ignores my brooding over the history this place represents; he spends his time playing football with the children in the nearby cabins. I photograph the interior, or sit trying to find Use my wife bbc building's dark soul. I can't. No-one arrives on a nationalist pilgrimage, at least while we are there.
When night comes, my son and I sleep easily in our wooden bunk beds. Still, we leave early the next morning. My wife ruffles our son's hair. All photographs by Ben McPherson. When Alexander Bodin Saphir's Jewish grandfather was measuring a high-ranking Nazi for a suit in Copenhagen in he got an important tip-off - the Jews were about to be rounded up and deported. It has often been described as a "miracle" that most of Denmark's Jews escaped the Holocaust.
Now it seems that the country's Nazi rulers deliberately sabotaged their own operation.
The tip-off from a Nazi that saved my grandparents. Image source, Getty Images. How Norway turns criminals into good neighbours The country where no salaries are secret Norway's drug-free treatment for people with psychosis. Vidkun Quisling would have hated that. You may also be interested in:. Related Topics.Use my wife bbc
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'My night in Quisling's cabin'