Confronting History

23 May 2023

11:05 – 12:30, Lillehammersalen 3

Two months prior to the full-scale attack on Ukraine, Russian authorities banned Memorial, the human rights group dedicated to the restoration of historical truth about Soviet crimes. The war against history laid the foundations for the real war against Ukraine. How can individuals, communities and states come to terms with historical trauma and crimes?

In this workshop, we will discuss experiences of historical reckoning from Russia, Norway, and Brazil to share lessons learned and identify ways to face the past in order to break free from the cycle of denial, repression and violence.



Aage Borchgrevink, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee


The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Norwegian Association of non-fiction writers and translators (NFFO) jointly host the WEXFO side event:


Aleksandra Polivanova

Aleksandra Polivanova

Russian Memorial.

Alexandra Polivanova has studied Scandinavian and Russian history and social psychology in Russia, Sweden, and US. Since 2013, she has led the program “Moscow. Topography of Terror” and other research-based urban memory-activism projects. Alexandra now chairs the network of Memorial organizations that continue to work within Russia.


Bjørn Westlie

Bjørn Westlie

Writer and journalist, Norway

As a journalist, Westlie reported about the expropriation of Jewish property during the Second World War in Norway. In many cases survivors were not able to reclaim assets or businesses. The article contributed to a public settlement process ending with the Government giving financial compensation and issuing a public apology to the Norwegian Jews. In most of his books, Westlie has focused on the Second World War and antisemitism, including in the story of his father, who was a volunteer in the Waffen SS and fought in Ukraine.


Leandro Demori

Leandro Demori

Editor and journalist, Brazil.

Leandro Demori is the Executive Editor of The Intercept Brasil, and is a board member of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji). He is the author of “Cossa Nostra in Brazil: The History of the Mafioso Who Took Down the Empire” (Companhia das Letras, 2016).