Nansen of the Fram

Scientist and, later, international statesman, Nansen embarked upon his great polar voyage in 1893, writes Michael Langley.

In 1921, when the shattered countries of Europe were still recoiling from war, they turned in their anguish to seek the help of a remarkable man—Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. He devoted himself successively to the tasks of repatriating tens of thousands of prisoners of war and millions of civilian refugees.

And thereafter, throughout the 1920’s, he became the servant of the League of Nations; a man of the world who was so dispassionate in his attitude to the mighty international problems that he was accused by the Communists of being Fascist, and by the Fascists of being Communist. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize, it was the last of many coveted awards he had won in many fields of activity.

His name is immediately associated with polar exploration, but as an outstanding scientist he had been Professor of Zoology at Christiana University. At this time, Norway was struggling for secession from Sweden; and when this was eventually obtained, many of his compatriots tried to persuade Nansen, a Norwegian of international renown, to become their first Prime Minister.

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