Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fridtjof Nansen -- Son of Norway

News of Norway, issue 7, 1999

Fridtjof Nansen went where no man had gone before - both as an explorer and a humanitarian. For these achievements, the readers of Norway's second largest newspaper Aftenposten voted him the most prominent Norwegian of the century.
Humanitarian achievements

Fridtjof Nansen's humanitarian achievements were fueled by his simple creed: Charity means practical politics.

Nansen got involved in the relocation of 450,000 refugees of war from 26 countries in 1920. The famous Nansen Passport saved an innumerable amount of people in 1921, when 30 million Russians were saved from starvation. During the Greek-Turkish war, Nansen helped many minority groups return to their native countries. In 1924, he helped bring peace to the region. The Armenian tragedy, in which approximately 900,000 people were killed by the Turks, was an emotional and poignant event for Nansen. For his efforts, he was named the first ever UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and in 1922 he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Nansen is remembered not only in Norway. In 1995, he was celebrated in Russia on a 50 ruble gold coin, and in 1996, Armenia put Nansen's picture on a stamp.

Fridtjof Nansen died on May 13, 1930 at 68 years of age.

"Kindness achieves more than cruelty"

In his Nobel address, Nansen did not spare those he held responsible for the famine in Russia in 1921. "In all probability their motives were political. They epitomize sterile self-importance and the lack of will to understand people who think differently...They call us romantics, weak, stupid, sentimental idealists, perhaps because we have some faith in the good which exists even in our opponents and because we believe that kindness achieves more than cruelty."

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


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