Fridtjof Nansen 10 October 1861 – 13 May 1930) was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth he was a champion skier and ice skater. He led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, traversing the island on cross-country skis. He won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86°14′ during his North Pole expedition of 1893–96. Although he retired from exploration after his return to Norway, his techniques of polar travel and his innovations in equipment and clothing influenced a generation of subsequent Arctic and Antarctic expeditions.
Nansen studied zoology at the Royal Frederick University in Christiania (renamed Oslo in 1925), and later worked as a curator at the Bergen Museum where his research on the central nervous system of lower marine creatures earned him a doctorate and helped establish modern theories of neurology. After 1896 his main scientific interest switched to oceanography; in the course of his research he made many scientific cruises, mainly in the North Atlantic, and contributed to the development of modern oceanographic equipment. As one of his country’s leading citizens, in 1905 Nansen spoke out for the ending of
href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway%27s_union_with_Sweden”>Norway’s union with Sweden
, and was instrumental in persuading Prince Carl of Denmark to accept the throne of the newly independent Norway. Between 1906 and 1908 he served as the Norwegian representative in London, where he helped negotiate the Integrity Treaty that guaranteed Norway’s independent status.
In the final decade of his life, Nansen devoted himself primarily to the League of Nations, following his appointment in 1921 as the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees. In 1922 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the displaced victims of the First World War and related conflicts. Among the initiatives he introduced was the “
” for stateless persons, a certificate that used to be recognised by more than 50 countries. He worked on behalf of refugees until his sudden death in 1930, after which the League established the Nansen International Office for Refugees to ensure that his work continued. This office received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1938. His name is commemorated in numerous geographical features, particularly in the polar regions.
According to THE HINDU
This 1922 Nobel Peace Prize laureate led one of the most interesting lives in the 19th-20th centuries.
Fridtjof Nansen (pronounced FRID-choff NAN-sən) wore many caps in his lifetime — scientist, explorer, adventurer, trekker, zoologist, humanitarian, diplomat, a champion skiier who could ski 50 miles a day.
This 1922 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate led one of the most interesting lives in the 19th-20th centuries. He studied the polar ice caps, dabbled in oceanography, repatriated prisoners of war, rescued refugees and was part of a group that was the first to cross Greenland.
Today’s Google Doodle, in honour of his 156th birthday, features a neat gif of the adventurer skiing across the frozen tundras of the North. The doodle also features the legendary ‘Nansen passport’.
Nansen was born on October 10, 1861 near Oslo. Even as a child, he had a finger in several pies — swimming, skiing, the sciences and, oddly enough, drawing as well. According to the Nobel Foundation, it was his proficiency in skiing that enabled him to explore as much as he did.
He also has the honour of being one of the earliest to study the North Pole. “Nansen and one companion, with 30 days’ rations for 28 dogs, three sledges, two kayaks, and a 100 days’ rations for themselves, set out in March of 1895 on a 400-mile dash to the Pole. In 23 days, they traveled 140 miles over oceans of tumbled ice, getting closer to the Pole than anyone had previously been,” the Nobel Foundation wrote.
Nansen became closely involved with humanitarian aid during the World Wars. He helped repatriate prisoners from WW1, helped with famine relief in Russia, but most of all, gave relief to refugees from across the world — Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Assyria and more — as head of the High Commission for Refugees, set up by the League of Nations. His efforts ensured that survivors of the Armenian genocide lived. “The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of those few that survived,” a columnist in the Burlington Free Press would go on to claim.
His efforts fetched him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. The Nansen International Office for Refugees also received the Prize in 1938.
Nansen’s work and influence, especially his work with refugees, are starkly relevant even today. His ‘Nansen Passport’ gave recognition to hundreds of thousands of stateless refugees. The passport, which was in use till 1942, ended up being recognised by 52 countries and is said to have repatriated nearly 450,000 refugees. Several experts have even suggested the reintroduction of the passport as a solution to the ongoing refugee crisis.
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