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Norwegia (Norway) - Expo Liege 1905

Norwegia (Norway) at the Exhibition Expo Liege 1905

Was it because of a premonition of a sudden divorce from Sweden, with which she had long lived in misunderstanding, that she placed her exhibition far from that of her companion? Perhaps so, for a few months later the Scandinavian conflict was sharpening into an irreparable crisis, and Norway was reclaiming its autonomy and its personality.

And this break-up took place without raising barricades or igniting revolutions, without storms of upheaval or clashes of arms, as if Scandinavia had wanted to give Europe this proud and serene lesson in political philosophy by wisely accomplishing an act so virile and decisive that in any other country it would have been the prelude to tragic events tinged with the blood of many citizens.

The two countries could no longer be brothers, but they remained friends, because, in spite of their differences of opinion and the sharpness of their dissensions, they had lived too closely together in the same embrace for their two hearts not to beat together at certain times.

It is thus the youngest state in Europe, with a territory larger than ten times Belgium, with a powerful fleet and army, and a prosperous and flourishing trade. The Norwegians are people of the sea and of the forests; nature has carved them for this purpose by giving them 20,000 square kilometres of wild bays and jagged gulfs, forests of incomparable beauty from which they draw life.

They are Europe's vanguard towards the North Pole, so they have brought us everything that reminds us of snow and fjords, forests and the sea.

The Norwegian pavilion? A wooden house, low, squat, illuminated in red and green, with singularly sloping roofs, windows facing outwards, an awning protecting the entrance, all in defence against the gusts of wind that howl furiously and the torrents of snow that storm the houses.

And so charming in its rustic simplicity! !

Collections of skates and skis are attached to the walls. Of all models and elegance; in oak or ash, in steel or aluminium, without which the Norwegian would be a cripple when he has to cross the snow fields which unfold their desperate monotony or slide down the slopes armed with ice.

They are a people of fishermen accustomed to playing out their existence on the ocean. Everything proclaims it here, baleen and oil from the whale they have been tracking for centuries, cod and seal oil, canned sardines, anchovies, herrings, the first marks of which are set out in high pyramids, for the canning factories which are legion there have made every imaginable shipment, from reindeer saddles and smoked trout to bilberry jam.

Is it not the granary of abundance where the whole world is supplied with preserves!

And don't the woods of the North, which the gigantic forests provide without being depleted, go to all destinations in huge piles or in wood pulp that will later be used for paper.

Various pieces of furniture ensure the safety of Norwegian cabinet-making taste, two saponite fireplaces are curious, valuable tapestries from schools and workshops belonging to the State are of remarkable design and finish; iron, copper and nickel metals graciously offered to our University and photographs
the phases of the exploitation of the quarries, complete with dignity an installation which, gathered on itself, is interesting from all points of view in its corners and
and details.

Above all, the diagrams, which are like victory songs, give us valuable and comforting information on the marked decline in alcoholism in Norway. In 25 years, consumption has dropped from 9 litres to 2.46, and this is where the Norwegian shows himself to be incomparably superior, since he has conquered the scourge of alcoholism, which is gangrenous to the core of the races.

The cramped conditions of this compartment have forced various exhibitors to seek refuge in the halls. There is an assortment of sledges, samples of chemical match factories, delightful filigrees and transparent enamels set in golden metal which are like dreams enclosed in the pallor of stones.

A happy nation that has not yet had time to have a history; that the harshness of the climate and the distress of the country condemn to isolation and solitude; a bold, enterprising, thrifty people, open to all new ideas and able to assimilate them, worthy sons of those Vikings with their hearts encircled by the triple brass of which the legends speak in fiery and bellicose stanzas

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Liège 1905