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Fridtjof Nansen

The Nobel Peace Prize 1922

Zoologist - Neuroscientist, Polar Explorer, Oceanographer, Humanitarian. 'Nansen Passports' for stateless refugees. Despite Russia then being suspect in Western nations, relief for 7,000,000 to 22,000,000 Russians dying of famine.

Ministered to refugees - methods became classic: custodial care, repatriation, rehabilitation, resettlement, emigration, integration.

Love of mankind is politics in practice.



  1. It is better to go skiing and think of God, than to go to church and think of sport.
  2. Have you not succeeded? Continue! Have you succeeded? Continue!


  1. The whole plan of extermination was nothing less than a cold blooded, calculated political measure, having for its object the annihilation of a superior element in the population, which might prove troublesome, and to this must be added the motive of greed.
  2. War will cease when men refuse to fight.
  3. Love of mankind is politics in practice.
  4. You are one with your skis and nature. This is something that develops not only the body but the soul as well, and it has a deeper meaning for a people than most of us perceive.
  5. The first great thing is to find yourself, and for that you need solitude and contemplation: at least sometimes. I tell you, deliverance will not come from the rushing, noisy centres of civilization. It will come from the lonely places.
  6. Alas! Alas! Life is full of disappointments; as one reaches one ridge there is always another and a higher one beyond which blocks the view.
  7. That palace of theory which I reared, in pride and self-confidence, high above all silly objections has fallen like a house of cards at the first breath of wind. Build up the most ingenious theories and you may be sure of one thing-that fact will defy them all. Was I so very sure? Yes, at times; but that was self-deception, intoxication. A secret doubt lurked behind all the reasoning. It seemed as though the longer I defended my theory, the nearer I came to doubting it. But no, there is not getting over the evidence of that Siberian drift-wood. But if, after all, we are on the wrong track, what then? Only disappointed human hopes, nothing more. And even if we perish, what will it matter in the endless cycles of eternity?
  8. I have always thought that the much-praised "line of retreat" is a snare for people who wish to reach their goal.... Always looking back, they end by getting nowhere. The traveller of the right mettle may consider well, but then he takes one road and sticks to that.
  9. Beware of obstinacy and foolhardiness. For a strong man there is a great danger in resistance and contradiction. It takes a superior man to allow himself to be convinced in the heat of argument by the logic of another.
  10. We are just as little desirous of inflicting humiliation as we are of suffering it. Such desires, aside from being bad politics, are the mark of inferior breeding. It is, therefore, reasonable and politic for us to try to help Sweden by concessions and liberality, so that the dissolution of the Union may be carried through without the Swedish people's feeling humiliated."
  11. If nations could overcome the mutual fear and distrust whose sombre shadow is now thrown over the world, and could meet with confidence and good will to settle their possible differences, they would easily be able to establish a lasting peace.
  12. Man wants to know, and when he ceases to do so, he is no longer a man."
  13. The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.
  14. I demolish my bridges behind me...then there is no choice but to move forward
  15. Never keep a line of retreat: it is a wretched invention.
  16. Love is life's snow. It falls deepest and softest into the gashes left by the fight - whiter and purer than snow itself.

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Fridtjof Nansen
Painting Tim Tompkins - PaintHistory.com

Name: Fridtjof Nansen
Birth: 10 October 1861, Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway
Death: 13 May 1930, Oslo, Norway
Institution: Norway
Award: Originator of "Nansen passports" (for refugees), Norwegian Delegate, Société des Nations, Explorer, Scientist
Subject: humanitarian work
History of Discovery
Honoring Nansen
External Resources Text/Video