By Alister Doyle
Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, who refused to show remorse for killing 77 people in 2011, hugged his mother and apologized for ruining her life before she died of cancer this year, according to a new biography.
“The Mother”, based on hours of conversations with Wenche Behring Breivik by journalist Marit Christensen and published on Thursday, says she once described herself as the world’s “saddest mother” who both hated and loved her son.
She had no inkling that he was planning the attacks on July 22, 2011, cooking him a dinner of spaghetti that got cold as she waited in vain for his return and watched the news of bombings and shootings by an unknown killer.
She broke down in tears when the police came to her house that night to say Anders Breivik was to blame for the massacre – a bombing in Oslo that killed 8 and a shooting rampage on a nearby island that killed 69, many of them teenagers.
Breivik, a right-wing anti-Islamic fanatic now aged 34, is serving Norway’s maximum sentence in jail for the attacks, which were aimed at the Labour-led government and its youth wing.
A few days before Wenche Breivik died of cancer in March, she was taken by ambulance to visit her son in jail.
Glass divided them on previous visits but this time Anders Breivik was allowed out. Still in handcuffs, he put his arms over and around his mother in a hug. “Sorry that I have ruined your life,” he whispered, the book said.
By contrast, Breivik showed no compassion for his victims, saying in court that he would do it all over again if he had the chance. His father, a retired Norwegian diplomat, said after the killings that he wished Anders had never been born.
“I hate him,” Wenche Breivik said of her son after days spent recovering from the shock of the killings in a psychiatric hospital, the book says. Afterwards, she felt guilt and feared that she could be killed in a revenge attack.
“You can never stop loving your child … It’s nature,” Christensen said of Wenche Breivik’s conflicting emotions.
Wenche Breivik broke off cooperation with Christensen just before her death, saying she did not want the book published. Publishers Aschehoug went ahead, arguing it was in the public interest.
At the release of her book, Christensen told reporters it was unclear what caused Anders Breivik to become a killer. She said it was probably a blend of factors including genetics, family background, and social and political influences.
Before the attacks, Wenche Breivik believed her son’s explanation that he had become interested in hunting when she questioned why he had a rifle and a shotgun in his bedroom.
A year after the killings she considered – but did not make – an appeal, to say: “Dear fellow citizens, he who caused the tragedy also struck me. If I go out, someone will shoot me! I am the saddest mother in the world today.”
“(I) have been terribly sad and cried a lot. In addition to the grief of losing a son the sense of guilt weighs heavily on me. It would be easier to bear if he was dead … his punishment is also my punishment.”