For decades the idyllic Norwegian island was the place where future leaders came to hone their skills.
As always at the Labour Party’s annual summer camp on Utøya, this year there was also time for volleyball and soccer, singing around the campfire and romance.
But in future the name Utøya will be linked to a massacre that shocked the world and shattered Norwegians’ idea of their country as a haven of peace, tolerance and goodwill.
The tragedy that struck a group of young people on a terrible Friday afternoon has changed everything.
At first the sight of tall, blond Anders Behring Breivik, neatly dressed in a police uniform, must have been reassuring to the campers. They’d just seen TV reports of a huge bomb blast in Oslo and he’d come to inform them about it, he told them.
“Come over here. I want everyone to gather together,” he apparently said – before he started blasting away at the youngsters with a machine gun and pistol.
The echoes of the last shots fired by the apparent psychopath, who is thought to have detonated the car bomb in Oslo shortly beforehand, faded only an hour and a half later.
The island massacre and bomb attack for which Norwegian police say Breivik (32) has admitted responsibility claimed the lives of 76 people, 68 of them ruthlessly mowed down on Utøya.
It’s by far the worst violent incident since World War 2 to hit Norway, a country of snow-covered peaks, deep, dark fjords, the midnight sun, the Nobel Peace Prize and just five million generally well-off people.
Read more about the events as they unfolded in YOU 4 August 2011.