‘Heroes of Telemark’ dam is world heritage site

The hydroelectric dam sabotaged in the Kirk Douglas war film The Heroes of Telemark has been named as the centre of a new world heritage site by the UN’s cultural arm Unesco.

'Heroes of Telemark' dam is world heritage site
Kirk Douglas plays Dr Rolf Pedersen in The Heroes of Telemark. Photo: Screen grab

“The Rjukan-Notodden site manifests an exceptional combination of industrial assets and themes associated to the natural landscape,” Unesco declared in the entry on its website naming the area as one of its 2015 sites.  “It  stands out as an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century.”

The Vemork power station, the core of the Rjukan-Notodden industrial complex, was built by Norsk Hydro in 1911 to power a fertiliser factory and a series of other industrial plants.

The most dramatic chapter in the history of the area came during the German occupation of Norway in the Second World War, when the Norwegian resistance movement sabotaged it to prevent the deuterium oxide, or ‘heavy water’, produced by the plant being used to make German atomic bombs.

In 1965, the story of the Norwegian saboteurs was made into the film Heroes of Telemark, which the American director Anthony Mann shot on location in Telemark.

As Mann’s film was only very loosely based on the real events, earlier this year Norwegian broadcaster NRK aired a drama series, “the Heavy Water War”, that stayed as true to the real events as possible.


“This is a fantastic day for Telemark,” Telemark mayor Terje Riis-Johansen told NRK. “This gives us the opportunity to let the whole world know about the unique industrial history we have.”  


Jørn Christensen, chairman of Notodden Municipality, told the broadcaster that the industrial complex was greater than the Taj Mahal in India.


”I think ours is greater. Ours is eighty kilometres long and stretches all the way from Møsvann dam to Notodden, so this is no joke,” he said before the UNESCO application had been approved.  


The establishment of Rjukan-Notodden arguably marked the beginning of the Norwegian industrial revolution, as it was the first place hydroelectricity was used to power  large scale industry.




Venice may be put on Unesco endangered list if cruise ships not banned

The UN art heritage agency has said it may put Venice on its ‘endangered’ list if the lagoon city does not permanently ban cruise ships from docking there.

Venice may be put on Unesco endangered list if cruise ships not banned
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The Italian lagoon city, along with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the city of Budapest, and Liverpool’s waterfront may be put on the list of “World Heritage in Danger,” meaning they risk being removed from Unesco’s prestigious list of world heritage sites completely.

Unesco said on Monday the issue will be discussed at a meeting of its World Heritage Committee, which oversees the coveted accolade, in Fuzhou, China, on July 16-31.

It “would be a very serious thing for our country” if Venice was removed, said Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini on Monday.

READ ALSO: ‘More local, more authentic’: How can Italy move toward responsible tourism in future?

The MSC Orchestra cruise ship arrives in Venice on June 3rd, 2021. Photo: ANDREA PATTARO/AFP

Participants at the China meeting will make the final decision on the deletion and warning proposals, and the agency could demand urgent action on cruise ships from the Italian government by next February.

There has long been concern about the impact of cruise ships on the city’s delicate structures and on the lagoon’s fragile ecosystem.

READ ALSO: Hundreds demonstrate against cruise ships’ return to Venice

The Italian government appeared to have passed a ban on cruise ships docking in Venice earlier this year – but the giant vessels continue to arrive in the city.

The government’s decree in fact did not constitute an immediate ban.

Instead, it said a plan for docking cruise ships outside Venice’s lagoon must be drawn up and implemented.

In the meantime, the ships will continue sailing through the lagoon and docking at the city’s industrial port, which has been the landing site for them since last December.