Bergen rejects 'German' wharf name change

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11:42 CEST+02:00
The town council in Norway’s vibrant old Hansa trading port, Bergen, showed they were appalled by a proposal to re-name part of their harbour “The German Wharf” in tribute to its history.

Bergen’s citizens, known in Norway as Bergensere, were once under the prosperous dominion of German merchants of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa town’s legacy from its German-speaking past is a picture-postcard set of gabled, harbour-front buildings once used to store and expedite cargo.

“I understand why we changed the name back in 1945, but the time is ripe to go back to the original name” for Bryggen, or “the wharf”, said Hans-Carl Tveit, the Liberal Party’s city council member who sponsored the city council motion.

Bergen’s best tourist attraction had been called The German Bridge since the 14th century, but the “German” in anything had been stripped away after the Second World War and the Nazi occupation. In the same way, Berlin, Ontario in Canada was renamed Kitchener, although there had not been an occupation of Canada.

Tveit said he thought a little introduction to the idea is all that should have been needed to overcome opposition to the idea. He claimed to have had letters from war veterans saying “go ahead”.

“Tourists come to see Bergen. Why in all the world would we not want them to learn that this place was fitted out by Germans and forget the foul things that happened in those five years (of World War Two, six for the rest of Europe),” he told newspaper Bergens Tidende.

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Until the turn of last century, citizens in Bergen could elect to have state wedding ceremonies carried out in German.

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