My opinion in a world with freedom of speech

Category: Human rights

Sachsenhausen ~ post three

This will be my last post about Sachsenhausen. And I will focus on showing you some pictures this time, explaining a bit more on some of them.

No, the rocks above 
are not for playing. The prisoners were forced to walk back and forth on these to try out new shoes. They tested out the shoe soles, and how much they could bear. Sometimes they had to carry heavy bags on their backs to put on more weight. And hours would pass as they walked like this.

DSC_1236_“In memory of the victims of Sachsenhausen concentration camp”



This is the Norwegian Memorial 
place, where my class put roses. “The Norwegian government honors the 2500 Norwegians who had to suffer through the terror at Sachsenhausen between 1940 and 1945 because of resisting the Nazi occupants. Many of them lost their lives after the inhuman treatment in this camp. We will honor you forever.”




Sachsenhausen ~ part two

I want to share one of the first stories we were told at Sachsenhausen.

Can you imagine moving this? 
I cannot. It is way too big, way too heavy. But while Sachsenhausen was used as a concentration camp, people were forced to. They used it while they worked, to fix the ground. Good choice of words to explain, I know, sorry.

Anyway, on days some of the Nazi guys just felt to be worse, they enjoyed playing with the poor people trapped inside the camps. We were told some of these stories, one of them was about the big thing on the picture. They were usually 12 men when they pulled this one around, just for “fun” they could be eight. Then four, and this is where the short story begins… when a Nazi decided one of the four men didn’t work as hard as the others. And he decided to make the man pull the whole thing all on his own.

The man, obviously, does not have enough strength to move it. So the Nazi says he doesn’t do as he is told. Then deals with the situation by killing the man. No questions asked. The man did not obey his orders, so he needs to be punished.

Even though I have been told stories like these through the years, I can still not understand how the Nazi could work in these camps, do so horrible things and then walk home to their families, their wives, their children… and just be a nice husband, father… It is probably something I will never get my head around.


Sachsenhausen ~ post one

Our trip to Berlin went well, although we did meet a few problems here and there. But this post is not about that; I want to tell about my experiences when visiting Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Which, as expected, was tough. I have got some things I want to mention, so I will probably make a few posts on this topic and add it as one of my “weekly topics”.

Have you ever read 
“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”? I have. And I think it is a great book. A truly nice story. What I never thought about though, is how surreal it is. At school this year I will write an assignment about the story in “Schindler’s List” and compare it to “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas“, because they are both about World War II, however; one is written out of what actually happened, while the other does not deal with all the facts.

In “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas we are introduced to two boys; one who is Jewish and one who is German. The son of a Nazi. The Jewish boy, Shmuel, lives in a concentration camp – Auschwitz. But in spite of that, he becomes friend with the German boy on the outside.

I never thought about it before, not until I started writing this assignment and reading about the criticism the book has received. Then I went to Sachsenhausen, and understood even better, why people criticize the book.

The walls. The tall, thick 
walls and the wires on the top and down at the ground. I do not write this post to criticize the book; as I said, I think it is a great story. I was really moved by it when I read it; the movie as well. However, going to Sachsenhausen made me think. And with the book on my mind, I realized exactly how trapped these people were. We also had a guide with us, and all the stories he told … wow, I am surprised of how cruel mankind can be sometimes. Then again not surprised. Maybe angry is a better word.

Anyway, the walls were actually my first thought when entering. That is what split these innocent people away from the world. That hid all the bad things that were done to them; I am fully aware of the fact that things were not good on the outside either at this time, but still … all the stories we will never know, all the cruelness these people had to suffer through, and that died with them… I do not think we can ever imagine how bad it actually was in there. But over these next posts, I will try to tell some of the stories we were told when visiting one of the most important concentration camps.

  • Have you ever visited a concentration camp?


Painting: War is hell

To make up for the lack of posts here lately (as I am pretty busy with work and now to watch the new, little kitten in house – look here), I thought to share my newest painting with you. I got inspired when I saw a picture on the Internet of a soldier with the words “War is hell” written on his helmet. So I decided to try to paint it. And for once I actually even finished it.


I always try to document my process to be able to look back and see what worked and did not. Anyway, the final result;


I know painting is not really what this blog is about, but because of the message behind this particular one, I thought to share it after all. When I look at it I see all the soldiers out there fighting for their countries. Not the ones who grew up thinking, “I want to become a soldier!” and actually think it is alright to make war. No, I see those who never got the choice. Those who have had their countries destroyed because of this terrible act of other people, and those who were forced to put their lives at risk in order to protect their countries. Their families. And friends.

  • What do you think when you read “War is hell” like this?


The US disaster

I am sure you have all heard about the “US disaster” that was just revealed for the world. Yes, I am talking about their surveillance. Their accession to all the user information existing on e.g. Google, Facebook, Apple, Skype, Hotmail… While at work yesterday I heard they were talking a lot about it on the radio and – among others – called it the worst insult of human rights ever.

Now I do not have a big problem being watched, really. Knowing this is mostly for protection, trying to avoid terror attacks and so, I know no one would have any interest in me. On the Internet I always keep a polite profile; I never mock or speak bad about anyone else; at least I never use bas words to describe my feelings. I have never written I’ve wanted anyone dead, nor have I been planning attacks or reading about bombs.

C72M6P_2250173bI do not own this picture.

My freedom and rights, on the other hand, that is what annoys me. The fact that I with this surveillance can not actually write anything to my friends around the world, in what seems to be a closed social network as my e-mail, without knowing someone else than my friend can read it. This is what bugs me. Of course, there has always been an underlining discussion if someone were able to read our stuff, but actually having it confirmed makes it real. I thought we were supposed to have some human rights; the right of having a personal life. In the lives of a lot of people, Internet and their connections there is what makes them connected. Suddenly not being able to use this as a personal, closed network makes all the difference.

I understand they wish to avoid terror attacks, and I fully support a fight against this. My country was hit by a terror attack in 2011, and if we could have stopped that, avoided having 77 people killed, I would have done everything I could to do so. However I do not think being watched on the Internet would stop a person who actually wanted to make an attack. They will always be able to make a code system to talk, or to actually meet in person, or even plan it all by themselves. And let us not forget the old fashion way of writing letters; will the US government soon hire special post men to read the letters I send to my friends on the globe?

They will not be able to stop terrorism by reading all of our e-mails or chats. They do not achieve more than stealing one of our human rights.

My question for you today, is;

  • Do you support this surveillance?


In the name of free speech

In my social class today we were discussing whether we should be “allowed” to say whatever we want to in the name of free speach. I decided to bring the topic over here and reflect more upon it, and hopefully get some feedback with your opinions.

Firstly I want to quote Wikipedia and its definition of the term; “Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them.” Having this in mind we can move on, and try to come to a sort of conclusion.

Freedom-Of-Speech-3I do not own this picture.

I thought to use Norway and Iran as examples, as these are two very different countries regarding the subject. Norway is, with no doubt, a free country; we are allowed to have our own opinion about everything, and we are allowed to express all our believes. Although I have never been in Iran myself, I have only read about its conditions. And this has become a country – at least in my eyes – known for its lack of free speech. In Iran religion is very important, and the country is being leaded by a lot of rules influeded by Islam. I am not thinking to go too deep into the subject as I do not know enough myself, nor have many good sources. However I have read about women being executed because they speak up. There are many stories going around regarding this; people being murdered, prisoned or somehow ruined because they wanted to express their opinion.

The thought upsets me; compared to e.g. Iran, Norwegians do not have a lot to complain about, yet we are allowed to tell if we are not happy about our current situation. However, in Iran where there generally are a lot of problems, there will be big consequenses if they decide to open their mouth and speak against the government.

We do, however, have a limit in Norway too. One is not allowed to utter one’s opinion if it is racist. For which I am glad. I do not want to see, nor live, in a country where racism is openly allowed. You can of course have your opinion on the topic, but not try to affect others and make them agree with you as long as it is racist.

Uten_navn 1I do not own this picture (it is linked).

To answer my question I have to say this: I am for freedom of speech, and I want to take advantage of having it myself, I also stand for us being allowed to speak up about all of our opinions. What I on the other hand would not accept, is the way people often speak and express themselves. Both of my previous posts may actually be linked to this; last time I wrote about respect. Even though you might not respect all religions, cultures, skin colours or homosexuality, you do not have to utter these opinions in a bad way. You are allowed to say you do not like it yourself, but saying things as “God hates fags” or anything like that.. in my opinion that is the wrong way to speak up.

As for my other post, about the circus demonstration, I am thinking about my conversation with the circus artist. Although I was a little surprised/upset by seing the animal’s poor conditions, and not agreeing to what Andrejs Fjodorovs had to say (and on the contrary); none of us said anything bad about the other. He did not call me an idiot, nor did I say he should be hated by God (which I do not feel either).

It is all about uttering ones opinions in the right way. In my eyes one should be allowed to think, say and write whatever one want to, as long as one express oneself the right way. As long as one know how to show respect to people one might not agree with.

I therefore ask you;

  • Would you be happy living in a world with complete freedom of speech?