The Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who was the first man in space, had his bust unveiled in Bergen, Norway, 14 September. Gagarin visited Bergen in March 1964.
He spent 8 days in Norway and visited Oslo, Trondheim and the Geophysical Institute of the University of Bergen as a part of the program. It was the 39th country he visited on his tour. The 50-kilogram bronze bust is a gift from the International Charitable Fund ‘Dialogue of Cultures – United World’ and will stand on a square lying among the University of Bergen buildings.
Students, ordinary Norwegians, Russian compatriots residing in Bergen and Russian embassy employees attended the ceremony. Russia’s Charge d’Affaires in Norway Svetlana Ozhegova and the University of Bergen Rector Dag Rune Olsen addressed those present with a speech. Russian and Norwegian music pieces were played.
Surprisingly, a resident of Bergen, chief editor Tatiana Dahle, who met Gagarin in 1964 turned out to be present at the ceremony. According to her, the bust was handed over to Norway from Russia to mark the 55th anniversary of Gagarin’s historic journey in 1961. The idea of eternalizing Gagarin’s memory in Bergen has been initiated by head of “Regional Coordinating Council of compatriots of the Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region”.
“This year will see the 55th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight. Not only did he open the door into outer space for humanity. His feat also united people around the globe,” Ozhegova told TASS. “The first cosmonaut is considered to be a hero in Russia and elsewhere in the world, where he is known and revered. It is symbolical that 52 years after his visit to Bergen, which gave Gagarin a very warm welcome, the cosmonaut returned to the Norwegian city in the form of a monument. Today’s event is vital for Russian-Norwegian relations,” Ozhegova said.
With the help of her Norwegian colleagues, Tatiana Dale got in touch with the city administration and with the leadership of the Institute of Geophysics of the University of Bergen, which Gagarin visited during his trip 52 years ago.
“Gagarin is a person of the world and everyone knows him,” said Dahle, adding that Norwegians agreed to accept the bust with great enthusiasm, providing it with pedestal and paying the transportation costs.
“Until today Norway has had very few monuments honoring our famous people,” Dale told TASS earlier. “When I heard that the International Charitable Fund ‘Dialogue of Cultures – United World’ built such monuments (to outstanding Russians), including Gagarin’s busts, I immediately remembered that the legendary cosmonaut had been to Bergen. I once wrote about his visit in an issue of a bi-lingual journal “The Compatriot”, which was published in Norway then. Why not try? I thought. And we tried- and succeeded,” she concludes.
Newspapers wrote about a curious episode, which happened to Gagarin in Trondheim. A local car dealer, Kjell Ukkenhaug, persuaded Gagarin to travel around the city in a Volga car, which belonged to the Norwegian. Gagarin refused to have a driver and sat at the steering wheel himself. According to Ukkenhaug, Gagarin was a masterful driver. He approached the receiving side’s Mercedes, which was ahead of him, at a very close distance and joked which of the cars would endure a collision better.
Busts of the first man in space have been unveiled in the US, Germany, France, Italy, China and other countries.
Bust of Russian Cosmonaut Unveiled in Norway, compiled by Admin