Re-living the 22nd of July of 2011 at Sundvolden Hotel

Almost 9 months has passed since that day last summer when one man killed 77 persons in a bomb attack and the slaugtherings at Utøya in Norway.

The Trial against the Norwegian Terrorist Anders Behring Breivik has been all over the media these past weeks interviewing a cold and calculated man, describing acts so horrific that no regular person is capable of even beginning to comprehend and grasp the complete lack of empaty or justifications he has made for himself to go through with the slaughterings of the terror attack last summer. In a way we have relived that fatal day of last summer since then through media listening to explanations from the killer, testimonials from the survivors and media discussing the testimonials of each day.
Frankly after a week I just want it all to be over, but the trial will still last for several weeks.

However, among all the horror that Breivik caused last summer – there are good stories to tell too. Stories of human compassion and strength to stand together and be united in a situation of the deepest misery.

My company just celebrated our FY13 Kick Off. We went out of town to Sundvolden Hotel.

For those of you that didn’t hear too much about the terror attacs in Norway last summer, Sundvolden Hotel was the hotel where all the survivors from the Utløya island shootings were taken when they were rescued after the shooting. It is the place where their families, the Police, Firefighters, Volunteers and other parties involved arrived during the first hours and days after the Utøya Shooting last year after the terror attacks performed by Anders B. Breivik.

22nd of July is in the middle of the Norwegian summer holiday and on this quiet summer day in 2011 the hotel had 5 guests and 4 employees on duty. Sundvolden Hotel is a conference hotel and it has lots of rooms, but it being a really quiet time of the year very few people were there. Sundvolden is located right next to the shore of land where the survivors came ashore.

The manager was asked to recieve survivors at the hotel and just then the hotel recieved one of the most challenging and important tasks of their long history. My boss made a request to the hotel that we wanted to hear how they as an organization prepared their staff, manned and organized volunteers and officials, survivors and family and went from 5 guests to 1000 guests in just a few hours – many highly traumatized and family members needing information about their loved ones, some to be reunited, some recieving the worst message of their lives.

Although the manager did not mention anything specific about victims or special situations from that day, he did speak of how they organized everything, how they had understood early the chance of being assigned the task to recieve everyone involved and how they managed the organization of all the tasks to be solved to still maintain good service to everyone guesting their hotel during those days. It was quite difficult not to start crying when he told of families that despite loosing their loved one, had left napkins with a thank you note to the hotel for making the stay a nice one in such a time.

Now you may think this sounds like the hotel is speculating and making money on the catastrophy, but simply we asked for him to talk about it and he accepted. It is a huge task to administer and we were interested in knowing how they managed on such a short notice.

It was a very rewarding stay. It gave us a different perspective of the days of terror last summer – and it gave us a fantastic stay at a beautiful hotel right next to the beautiful Tyrifjord (Tyri lake).

And here is a small reminder of the huge amount of people that showed up to show solidarity with the victims of that horrible day. Over 600 000 is said to have been in the street that day, on a day in the middle of the main holiday weeks in Norway. Oslo has 500 000 inhabitants.
The peaceful march to demonstrate against terror was cancelled due to such a massive show up of people. There was no place to march anywhere. Every street, every alley, every plaza was full of grieving and shocked people.
There was nowhere to walk.
And we were together…
And I still get tears in my eyes from thinking about those days last summer…


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