Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has formally apologized for his country’s role in the Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Norwegians carried out the arrests; Norwegians drove the trucks and it happened in Norway, he said in a speech.

Today I feel it is fitting to express our deepest apologies that this could happen on Norwegian soil. It is time for us to acknowledge that Norwegian policemen, civil servants and other Norwegians took part in the arrest and deportation of Jews.

During the second world war, the Norwegian president Vidkun Quisling, ordered the registration of 2,100 Jewish Norwegians. According to reports, more than one-third eventually died in Nazi death camps, while some other fled to safety in Sweden, which was neutral during the war.

According to Reuters, in 1998 Norway paid about $60 million to Norwegian Jews and Jewish organizations in an acknowledgment of Oslo’s complicity in Nazi war crimes and to compensate Jewish-owned property that was confiscated by the state.

However, Norway did not offer an explicit apology at that time.

Paul Levine, a history professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, told Reuters that Norwegians had always shifted blame to the Germans for the deportation of Norway’s Jews.

Norway acted similarly to Vichy France in that they implemented their own anti-Jewish laws, used their own manpower, confiscated property and discriminated against Jews before the Germans had demanded it, he said.

Norway didn't have to do what it did.

In an apparent reference to last summer’s massacre of about 90 people in Norway by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, the Prime Minister also said: I regret to say that the ideas that led to the Holocaust are still very much alive today, 70 years later. All over the world we see that individuals and groups are spreading intolerance and fear.

Jews form one of Norway’s smallest ethnic or religious group, numbering some 1,500, most of whom live in the Oslo area.

Prominent Norwegian Jews include Conservative politician Jo Benkow (born Josef Elias Benkowitz) and renowned psychiatrist Josef Elias Benkowitz.