One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway

Åsne Seierstad

April 16, 2015 
The following is from Asne Seierstad’s One of Us; which explores how Anders Breivik, a gifted child from Oslo, detonated a bomb outside government buildings in central Oslo before killing sixty-nine people on July 22, 2011. Seierstad is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and writer known for her work as a war correspondent.

Anders Breivik became a member of the right wing populist Progress Party when he was still in high school. Having been abandoned by his father, and by his former gang of graffiti artists, he was now striving for success. He wanted to get rich, he wanted to be admired, he wanted someone to believe in him. He saw the political party as a step on the ladder, and was seen as an ambitious young man, who took an active part in the political debate and party organization.  –Åsne Seierstad


He’s walking with the West End at his back, towards Youngstorget Square.

Right after New Year he had received the invitation to the inaugural meeting. He had marked the date on the calendar and put on a suit to mark the occasion. He often dressed that way these days, in a perfectly ordinary suit, nothing fancy, but it had to look expensive. He was good at wearing things with flair so they seemed expensive; he’d got that from his mother. She often found cheap clothes in sales that could be made to look exclusive in combination with her cool, blonde appearance. From her he had also learned to treat his clothes with care. He always hung them up on hangers after he’d worn them, or put them back in the cupboard, neatly folded. He always changed when he got home to make his nicer, brand-name garments last longer.

He held himself upright as he made his way along the slushy street. His steps were a little cautious. He called himself metrosexual; he dressed with great care, wore make-up and used vitamin-enriched hair products. He had ordered something called Rogaine from America, which promised to stop hair loss and trigger the follicles into new growth. He could still conceal his incipient bald patch with a good cut but his hairline was definitely receding. There was a great deal about his appearance that grieved him and he spent a long time in front of the mirror. Too long, thought his friends, who would laugh whenever he overdid the make-up. When he started wearing foundation, they teased him even more. It’s concealer, he objected. In summer he applied bronzing powder, and he kept a whole row of aftershaves in the bathroom.

His nose was new. An experienced surgeon had made a small incision, removed some bone and cartilage from below the bridge and sewn the skin tautly back in place. When the bandage was removed, his nose was just as he wanted it, as it ought to be: a straight profile, quite simply, an Aryan nose.

At secondary school they had made fun of his bumpy nose. The kink in the bone had been annoying him since his early teenage years. Later on he had complained to friends that the shape of his nose made him look like an Arab. As soon as he could afford it he booked himself in for surgery at Bunæs, one of the leading plastic surgery clinics in Norway. He also asked about a hair transplant, but was told the results were unpredictable and the transplant process could leave disfiguring scars, so he had not made up his mind yet. He crossed the government quarter, where you could walk straight through the building, past the reception area under the Prime Minister’s office. That was the quickest route; it saved some metres and several minutes not having to go round what was known as the Tower Block.

The government quarter was a fusion of functionalism and brutalism dating from the 1950s. The architect commissioned to design it, modernist Erling Viksjø, made so bold as to ask Pablo Picasso if he would design murals for the complex. Enthused by the Norwegian architect’s raw concrete, the artist agreed to produce some sketches. If he liked them, the Norwegians could use them. The project was kept strictly secret, under the code name Operation Pedersen. Picasso’s lines were marked into the concrete before the wall was pebble-dashed with rounded river stones and the lines were then sandblasted. It was Picasso’s first monumental work. The reliefs of his The Fishermen took up the entire end wall of one of the buildings, and if lucky enough to be invited to the higher floors you could admire several more of Picasso’s works adorning the staircase in the Tower Block.

To get to the next seat of power—Youngstorget—you crossed Einar Gerhardsen’s Square, where the low, circular base of a fountain was empty for the winter. From there, a narrow footpath ran down to Møllergata. Just to the left was number 19—the police station that the Nazis had used as a torture chamber during the Second World War. The collaborator Vidkun Quisling was arrested and held in the building after the Nazi’s defeat, until he was executed by firing squad one October night in 1945.On the other side of the square stood an imposing red-brick building. High on the wall were a rose and a sign saying Labour Party. With its monumental air, the building was reminiscent of one of Stalin’s Moscow skyscrapers—though on a more modest scale—a nod to the functionalism of the 1930s.

All the labour-movement organisations were based in this part of town. The House of the People, where the Confederation of Trade Unions had its headquarters, dominated one whole side of the square. In the corner between the two buildings stood a tall bronze statue—a worker with a sledgehammer over his shoulder, on his way to his factory shift. Every May Day a wreath was laid at his feet. It was here at Youngstorget that thousands of socialists, communists and Labour Party supporters rallied before setting out on their march through Oslo to mark International Workers’ Day.

As the man in the suit crossed the square, the area looked rather run down, with a number of shops standing empty. The district had acquired a reputation as the most dangerous in Oslo, a neighbourhood of strip clubs and little kebab shops. But things were about to change. The rockers would soon take over. Music nerds would open bars and cafés and hipsters would start heading down here to hear new bands and drink beer.

As for him, he preferred the established bars and nightclubs for the young West Enders with plenty of money to spend. He lived right by Frogner Park, in what he called the most prestigious district in Oslo.

No matter that the flat he shared with some fellow students from the Commerce School was dark and uninviting, the address was exclusive. Down here, on the other hand, was where the alternative, leftie types, the immigrants and the people on benefits lived. A quarter of the pupils at the school in Møllergata were from Somalia, and only a small minority were ethnic Norwegians.

Side by side with the Labour Party stronghold was a much lower building, painted in the pale pink of a marzipan rose. It had an unobtrusive entrance beside a fish shop. On its façade, shining letters announced Fremskrittspartiet—the Progress Party. He opened the door and went up to the first floor. On the stairs he passed posters with slogans like ‘You are Unique!’ and ‘Born Free, Taxed to Death’. In the offices hung a large flag with the logo of the Progress Party Youth. The toilet walls were adorned with press cuttings of stupid things said by the Socialist Left. In his pocket he had a pack of Lucky Strikes, a lighter and a pen.

He was the type who took notes.

‘Anders Behring.’

He said his name clearly, emphasising every syllable.

‘Do you come from the Bering Strait?’ laughed Thomas Wist- Kirkemo, one of the early arrivals.

‘My name does indeed,’ Anders replied. ‘I’m possibly related to Bering, the Dane who discovered the sea passage.’ He preferred his mother’s name now, it sounded posher and more select than his father’s rural last name.

The offices were full of ashtrays. The room reeked of old cigarette ends. There were piles of beer cans on the floor. The place was used for meetings and for parties, one sometimes leading to the other. Someone from county level had come to lead the meeting. He was in no hurry to start: only a few had turned up. But in the end he rapped his gavel to open proceedings and everybody introduced themselves. There were five of them. They were briefly told about the policies of the Progress Party before the new Oslo West branch was formally constituted.

‘Which of you wants stand for election?’ asked the leader.

They all put up their hands.

‘Okay then, who’s the oldest here?’

It was Thomas Wist-Kirkemo. He was four years older than Anders, and was unanimously voted in as chair. Then they had to elect his deputy. Anders quickly raised his hand and said ‘I’d like to do that.’ No one else laid claim to the position, so he got it. The other three were made committee members. There was a round of applause for the elections and then they decided to go for a beer at Politikern, a bar for ambitious young politicos in the arcade on Youngstorget. Anders was in a good mood. He had been a member of the Progress Party since he was eighteen—he had even been a committee member in the Uranienborg-Majorstuen branch – but it was only when he got the invitation from the party, eager to build up its youth wing, to join one of the three new local youth branches it was setting up in Oslo that he decided to make the commitment. He supported what the others said and was generous with compliments. He listened more than he spoke and was more restrained than he usually was in discussions with his friends. He could often be quite provocative and would never concede a point. Out on the town, it was not unusual for him to end up in quarrels with a certain amount of pushing and shoving, though seldom in actual fights.

So these five—they were now a group, a gang—would have to stand together to change Norway. ‘We need to make our mark on the city council,’ said Anders. ‘Get more young people in.’ The others nodded. This evening they agreed about everything. ‘The trouble with the Labour Party,’ he went on,‘is that there’s no way of getting rich with them in power!’ After the meeting, Anders strolled westwards with his new title. The streets grew wider, the clothes in the shop-window displays more expensive, the pavements began to be lined with poplars, pollarded for the winter, and there were large detached houses with gardens.Here he was, the deputy chairman of the Young Progress Party, Oslo West branch, walking home.

The ideals of his tagging phase had long since been abandoned. He had turned in the opposite direction. Tagging circles were more red than blue, and the hippest concerts were held at Blitz, where anti-racism was high on the agenda. Anders was now involved with the party that had most actively opposed the taggers. It was several years since he had last been arrested, with spray cans and a stolen emergency hammer in his rucksack, bombing a bridge at Storo in the north of Oslo. He was fined three thousand kroner and called it a day. By then he had already started at Hartvig Nissen, an upper secondary school specialising in drama, where many of the students had artistic aspirations. The saggy Psycho Cowboy jeans and Kebab Norwegian were out of place among the cultural snobs and would-be actors and though he was pleased to be elected class rep, he felt uncomfortable there. He didn’t understand the codes and was seen as a social misfit, so he left after a year.

He started in the second year at Oslo Commerce School. Even in that conservative milieu he clung on to his tagger style for a while. He still favoured a cool, rolling walk like in the music videos from the Bronx. Some people sniggered openly when he used Pakistani expressions or gang-talk. But word had come with him that he was not somebody to be messed with. ‘He’s nuts, steer well clear of him,’ his new classmates were warned.

So he reinvented himself once again. Slimmer-cut Levi’s and polo shirts were the order of the day now, preferably with the little crocodile on the chest. He adopted an educated, well-articulated way of speaking, replacing the East End elements with more standard Norwegian. He donned a smile and an accommodating impression. At the Commerce School he found himself in the company of aspiring financial whizz-kids with inheritances to look forward to, along with yuppies keen to make money fast. Outside school he had a part-time job as a telephone salesman for Telia, in which he pushed everything from hunting, fishing and music magazines to scratch cards, wine calendars and crime fiction. He proved to have a flair for selling, but was soon working mainly on the customer-service side because he handled complaints so well. The boss saw him as responsible and entrusted him with tasks beyond what was normally expected.

At high school he began speculating in shares, and one day made two hundred thousand kroner in a single transaction. It inspired him to carry on trading in shares, and he took an increasing number of days off. As time went by he hardly had time to attend classes at all, and just before Christmas in his final year he sent a letter to the school.

I hereby give notice that after serious consideration I have decided to leave the third year. Thank you for an instructive time at the school. In brackets underneath he wrote: P.S. (Just a joke) If I had not had to do French I would be staying on.

He told his mates he didn’t want a boss above him, creaming off the profits. He told his own boss he wanted to leave his job in telephone sales and set up his own business. That was where the money was. And while his fellow students were choosing their universities or colleges, he put all his energy into becoming a millionaire. Thanks to his little jobs and some hard saving, he had a starting capital of a hundred thousand kroner for the company, Behring & Kerner Marketing, that he was going to run with a friend. They had an office in the basement of the terrace in Konventveien into which Wenche and Anders had moved after Elisabeth emigrated to California. Anders’s business idea was inspired. He had told his former boss why he was leaving, to be sure, but he had pulled the wool over his eyes as well, because before leaving Telia he had got access to a database of foreigners in Norway, people he called ‘priority-A customers, the heavyweights’, and he had surreptitiously copied the database. Now he could ring round these customers and offer them cheaper call charges.

But it turned out not to be that easy to get rich overnight. Most customers were skeptical about being contacted by the two teenagers and stayed with Telia. Then Anders fell out with Kerner, later referring to him as incompetent. He vowed never again to start a business with a friend without sales experience. After a year he wound up the business, all his capital gone.

Anders went back to telephone sales. Before long he was promoted to team leader. By scrimping and saving, he slowly built up fresh starting capital. He had got a new idea. He wanted to set up databases of rich people, potential investors in industry and commerce, and then sell those databases to interested parties. But he was unable to find out how to locate the information he needed and had to shelve the idea.

Then he decided advertising was the thing: he was a seller, after all. He set up a firm selling outdoor advertising space, aiming to undercut one of the big players. Clear Channel had contracts with landlords to display advertising round the city, but while the cost of hiring advertising space had risen significantly, payment to the property owners had remained static. His plan was to ring round to the owners and offer them slightly more than they were getting. But first he needed to get hold of the property and company numbers, and they were far from readily available. It cost money and had to be retrieved from public offices.

At this time he was also taking part in the Progress Party’s course in preparation for political office. The first evening focused on ideology and, according to the programme, ‘the big names in what today we call liberalism, such as John Locke, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand’. The next session covered the history of the Progress Party, and on the third evening the aspiring politicians had to give lectures on topical party issues. In addition, they were taught how to spread the message,which felt like home ground to Anders. Selling was his forte, after all. He had just had a bit of bad luck.

Oh, it was that irresistible urge to get rich . . .

He conscientiously attended all the meetings of the Oslo West branch. They laid plans for various activities leading up to the Oslo City Council elections in 2003. But turnout at the meetings was poor, and not much came of it all.

Anders was increasingly drawn into the Progress Party Youth’s social scene. They were all around the same age, most of them were single, and it was an open, liberal circle. The youth leaders saw it as part of their recruitment strategy to attract the members to social events. In the Oslo West gang he got to know a girl who was same age as him, but who was already making a career for herself in the party. Lene Langemyr was as thin as a rake with a playful expression and short, untidy hair. Smart and always ready with an answer, she sailed effortlessly into Anders’s life. They went to pre-parties, actual parties and afterparties together, went round to visit each other, watched films and talked, went on outings and attended meetings with the other would-be politicians.

They fell for each other. She thought he seemed intellectual and rather exciting. She wasn’t the studious type herself, she laughed, as he lectured her on Adam Smith and Ayn Rand.

She was from the town of Grimstad in the south of Norway, not far from where Anders’s mother grew up. But really she was from New Delhi. There, she had been left on the doorstep of one of the city’s many orphanages one April day in 1979. Six weeks later she was brought to Norway. Lene showed no interest in researching her roots. What would be the point? She was Norwegian and had a family who loved her. But sometimes the feeling of having been unwanted overwhelmed her.

‘I wasn’t loved by my mother,’ she told Anders. ‘I wouldn’t have been left there otherwise.’ She struggled with her sense of guilt at not having come up to scratch, she skipped school, wanted to get away, broke any rule she could, left upper secondary in the second year and rang the local recruitment office of the National Service Centre. The summer she turned eighteen she passed the physical tests and was called in for evaluation at Camp Madla, Norway’s largest recruit training college, just outside Stavanger.

After two weeks she was elected to represent the other recruits. She was the first girl, and the first dark-skinned recruit to fill the position. Lene was absorbed in being Norwegian and saw red on manoeuvres when Muslim recruits would not eat because they were served pork in their field rations. She was not sympathetic to those who asked for the kitchen to use special pots and pans to prepare halal food.

A critical attitude toward Islam was common ground for Lene and Anders at the time. Because Lene’s appearance meant she was often mistaken for a Pakistani girl, she was frequently on the receiving end of comments in the street. ‘Get dressed!’ Muslim men would shout at her if she were wearing a strappy summer dress. She complained to Anders that men sometimes harassed her when she was lightly clothed, rubbing up against her in queues or groping her in the street. She was annoyed that it was immigrants, not Norwegians, who called her Norwegianness into question. She felt she was more exposed than her blonde sisters, and if she tried to buy a smoky-bacon sausage at a kiosk, she would often be asked if she realised it had pork in it. ‘I know that, and I love them,’ Lene would answer, in her sing-song Grimstad dialect.

‘“We do what we like with our women, so keep out of this or you’ll be sorry”,’ she had been warned, she told Anders, when being critical of Islam. ‘It must be awful to be a woman in that culture,’ she said to him one evening when they were on their own.

The Progress Party was a young party. Its forerunner had been set up in 1973 by Anders Lange, a forestry technician and anti-communist, under the name Anders Lange’s Party for a Major Reduction in Taxes, Duties and Public Intervention. The role of state was to be minimal, in direct contrast to Labour’s welfare state. The party received support from the apartheid regime in South Africa for the election campaign of 1973. Lange said of Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda that ‘blacks needed white people to be in charge’.

He was critical of the fight for women’s liberation and of welfare provision such as maternity leave. ‘No one who has a good time with her husband in bed deserves financial help as a result,’ he said in one of his speeches.

But the year after founding his party, the colourful racist died and the young, ambitious Carl Ivar Hagen succeeded him as party chairman. In 1977 the name was changed to the Progress Party, and in the early years the party hovered at around 3 or 4 per cent in the polls. What had started out in the 1970s as a movement among individual members of the public against taxes and other duties developed a wider populist appeal in the yuppie era of the 1980s, when the country was caught up in the liberal spirit of the age. Even so, the People’s Party was not exactly mainstream and failed to attract the mass of voters.

In 1987, the number of asylum seekers and refugees coming to Norway had shot up. From around a hundred per annum, the figure had risen: almost nine thousand had sought refuge in the last year. The Labour government planned a campaign to explain to people why Norway would have to take more refugees. At an open election meeting in Trøndelag Hagen started reading out parts of a letter, purporting to be from a man named Mutafa ‘“Allah is Allah and Muhammed is his prophet,”’ he read. ‘“One day mosques will be as common in Norway as churches are today. My great grandchildren will see this. I know, all Muslims in Norway know, that the Norwegian population will find its way to the faith one day, and this land will become Muslim! We are having more children than you, and a considerable number of true

Muslim believers come to Norway every year, men of a fertile age. One day the infidel cross will be wiped from your flag!”’ This threat shocked the audience. The letter proved to be a turning point in the immigration debate, which came to dominate the election campaign that year. It later turned out that the letter was bogus. It was clearly a gaffe, but Hagen protested his innocence. He had done nothing but read from a letter he had received. In any case, the party’s support tripled in comparison to the general election two years before, gaining 12 per cent of the vote. In the big cities, where immigration was at the highest levels, the party polled between 15 and 20 per cent. ‘A political earthquake,’ declared the party chairman. The Progress Party was here to stay.

Hagen was an absolute master at setting groups against each other. He particularly favoured referring to the elderly on one hand and the immigrants on the other as examples of worthy and unworthy recipients of state subsidies. Through the 1990s the party demanded that some kind of migration accounting system be set up to establish the cost and calculate the long-term consequences of the growing number of immigrants from foreign cultures. The party spokesman on immigration policy, Øystein Hedstrøm, took the line that the influx of refugees was eroding people’s morality as taxpayers because they were unwilling to make contributions that went to finance immigration. Many asylum seekers were not prepared to work because they could live well on financial support from the state, he said. What was more, the foreigners provoked in the Norwegians feelings such as ‘frustration, indignation, bitterness, fear and anxiety that could lead to psychosomatic illnesses causing absence from work and instability at home’. He claimed that hygienic standards in the shops, restaurants and stalls run by foreigners were so poor that they could make customers ill, which again would have an economic impact on society.

Hedstrøm foresaw that the rising levels of immigration would lead to violence perpetrated by Norwegians. ‘There is a great risk that these negative emotions will find an outlet in violent reactions in the not so distant future,’ he predicted in 1995, at about the same time as Anders Behring Breivik gave up tagging and weeded the immigrant slang out of his vocabulary.

Before the election that year it emerged that Hedstrøm had close contact with purely racist organisations such as the Fatherland Party and the White Electoral Alliance. The party leadership muzzled him, but the links did not appear to damage the party, which in Oslo had its best-ever election and gained 21 per cent of the vote.

In 1996, the year before Breivik joined the Progress Party, it had turned its rhetoric against immigrants in the direction of a critique of Islam. In his speech to the party conference that year, Hagen launched an attack on the imams. The state ought not to be supporting fundamentalism. ‘The imams are against integration and interpret the Qu ran in a way that is dangerous to the Muslims and the new generation. They should not gain any power in this country. It is a kind of racism that gives the imams in Norway power over others. The imams require education in Norwegian practices and customs and training in how to behave here,’ he claimed. In his opinion, the Muslims had taken no decisive steps towards integration and the growth of fundamentalism had frightened Norwegians. He cited the demand for Muslim schools, segregated swimming lessons and protests against religious education lessons based on Christianity, as well as the demonstrations against The Satanic Verses, and the attack in 1993 on the book’s Norwegian publisher William Nygaard, who was shot several times in the chest and shoulder, but survived.

‘Gangs are prowling the streets, stealing, going to discos in a group, fighting and committing rape in Oslo. The immigrant associations are fully aware of the situation but don’t want to cooperate with the police for fear of being called informers. They have to protect their own. These bullies are not seen as criminals but as brave, bold heroes in this section of immigrant culture. If no one speaks out against this macho culture now, it could become a time-honoured tradition in our country.’ This was the way Hagen sounded in the 1990s.

‘When the imams preach that the Norwegians are infidels, there are automatic consequences. It means among other things that it is the duty of the Muslims not to pay taxes, that they can steal from the shops with no moral scruples and that they can tell lies.’ After al-Qaida’s terrorist attacks in America on 11 September 2001 the Progress Party stepped up its rhetoric, in line with world opinion. Muslims were ruthless and dangerous. The Progress Party saw the world as George W. Bush did: us and them.

The party was flying high in the opinion polls. With the upturn in public support, the party wanted to expand its organisation. To reach out to more people, the party had to be visible at the local level and particularly among young people. That was when it decided to set up local branches, the ones that had appealed to Anders as party fortunes prospered.

He seldom spoke in plenary sessions. The few times he did address the floor, he gabbled nervously. He had written anything he said down in advance and read it in a monotone, without emotion. He was not at home at the lectern. The internet was to be his territory. The summer of 2002 was approaching. After an almost snowless winter and a glorious spring, the meteorologists said Norway could expect its hottest year in over a century. As people sweated away in their offices, the parties’ nomination battles were soon in full swing. There was vicious jostling for places on the lists for the city council elections the following year. Anders was staking everything on a political career, so he simply had to get nominated. He made himself as visible as possible and was an active contributor to the Progress Party Youth’s new online debate forum. ‘We needn’t be ashamed of being ambitious!’ he wrote one light night in May, in one of his first posts. ‘We needn’t be ashamed of setting goals and then reaching them! We needn’t be ashamed of breaking with established norms to achieve something better!’ Norway had such a loser mentality, he argued. A Norwegian would just stand there waiting, cap in hand. He would never put himself forward, but would follow the example set by our unassuming forefathers. This had to change, wrote Anders, using the new members of the royal family to illustrate his argument. In one of his first posts he expressed his support for Crown Prince Haakon’s marriage to Mette-Marit, a single mother with a four-year-old son, and for Princess Märtha Louise’s fiancé Ari Behn, an author whose books were steeped in drugs and dark, wild lifestyles. He praised the two new spouses for being individualists. Had they been rich, dull, conservative figures, no one would have criticised them, he wrote. No, Norway should learn from the US, where the key to success was: 1. You’re the best.  2. You can make all your dreams come true.  3. The only limits are those you set yourself. ‘Meanwhile, the wise goblins will sit on the hill and say something completely different:  1. Don’t think you’re anybody.  2. Don’t imagine you can achieve anything.  3. Don’t imagine anybody cares about you.’

The most powerful figure in Anders’s circle was Jøran Kallmyr, leader of the Progress Party Youth in Oslo. Anders often added comments to Jøran’s posts on the forum, but seldom received an answer. Anders, who had had devised battle tactics for his toy soldiers as a boy, drawn maps and escape routes across Oslo in his time as a tagger and later sketched out business plans and marketing strategies, now drew up a chart of the Progress Party Youth organisation and planned his political future on paper. To qualify for nomination to stand in the city council elections in 2003 the local branches had to submit suggestions to the nomination committee a year in advance, so now was the time to strike. The candidates under consideration were then called in for interview by the committee, which was led by a former diplomat, Hans Høegh Henrichsen.

Anders advised everybody to stand for election and wrote in May 2002 that he, Jøran Kallmyr and Lene Langemyr were preliminarily registered as candidates.

Jøran and Lene were interviewed; Anders was left waiting for a call.

On the internet, Anders adopted a tone that was jovial yet intense. His writing was peppered with emoticons, exclamation marks and jokey remarks in brackets or quotation marks. He wrote a long list of things members ought to do if they wanted to be the next Carl Ivar Hagen.

‘Organisation freak,’ groaned Jøran Kallmyr when he read what the deputy of the Oslo West branch had written. Behring’s a total outsider, yet he sounds like one of the inner circle, he thought when he saw the way Anders was dispensing tips to people at the top. In the course of his first summer’s posting on the forum, Anders devoted more and more time to the subject of Islam. His tone was cautiously conciliatory. On 11 July 2002, when nearly everybody was away on holiday, he wrote, ‘It’s important to make the point that Islam is a great religion (on a level with Christianity) and that Muslims are generally good people (on a level with Christians).’ He stressed that it was ‘certain aspects of negative cultures related to Islam that should be criticised, not Islam itself’. There was an essential difference, he explained, referring to the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, who claimed a secret Islamic invasion of Europe was under way. ‘I wouldn’t recommend anybody in the Progress Party Youth to fall in with this approach or they could be risking their political career,’ he advised.

The hot summer faded, autumnal weather came sweeping in and the wind whistled. It was the coldest autumn in living memory, and Anders still had not been called in for a candidate interview.

The chair of the nomination committee never read anything that Anders posted on the internet, but he had met him. ‘He seems pleasant and reasonable,’ was Høegh Henrichsen’s assessment, ‘but isn’t he a bit vague?’ Anders Behring had failed to make any particular impression on the older man. He had only come to a couple of meetings and had not distinguished himself there. His name had been put into the ring along with a list of other names, but no one from Anders’s local ‘adult’ branch—Majorstuen-Uranienborg—felt he was the right man. It was the local branch that had to interview and approve individuals from their district who were proposed to the nomination committee. For them it was the personal impression that counted, not anyone’s empire-building on the internet.

He was not weighed and found wanting.

He was not even weighed.

He was never called for interview.

His name did not go on the list.

Just before Christmas, the nomination list was finalised. Two youth candidates were nominated. Jøran was on the list. Lene was on the list.

Anders’s posts on the forum grew more negative. ‘The sad thing about the political system in Norway is that it often isn’t the most competent who get political power, but those who are best at networking.’

‘How the h . . . is the PPY supposed to recruit voters under 30 if they haven’t any high-profile young parliamentarians???’ he wrote in the new year, and, ‘The way I see it, the central executive committee has been far too passive when it comes to developing a comprehensive youth strategy! Is there any kind of strategy at all??’ He was a nobody, and it was almost election time. In one of his last posts in the summer of 2003, Anders predicted civil war once the Muslims were in the majority in Norway. The Islamisation of the West was alarming.

On that last point, many in the Progress Party agreed with him. For his part, he had lost interest in the party. He stopped going along to the offices or to their social events. If they didn’t want him, he didn’t want them either. He moved on, out into the world.


From ONE OF US: THE STORY OF ANDERS BREIVIK AND THE MASSACRE IN NORWAY. Reprinted by arrangement with The Wylie Agency, to be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2015 by Åsne Seierstad.

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