Nansenhjelpen (formally called Expired Nansen Hjelp , variously called Expired the Nansen Relief in English and in German Nansenhilfe) Was a Norwegian humanitarian organization founded by Odd Nansen in 1936 to Provide safe haven and support in Norway for Jewish Refugees from areas in Europe under Nazi control. It was formally disbanded in 1945, but effectively ceased operations in late 1942, after all Jews in Norway had been deported, murdered, or had fled into Sweden.


Although a few Norwegian individuals had made efforts to save Jews from Nazi persecution in Europe, the Norwegian Humanitarian Organizations, such as it was founded by Landsorganisasjonen and the Communist Party . It was a professor of German at the University of Oslo , Fredrik Paasche , who approached architect Odd Nansen, the son of famed scientific explorer and Nobel Peace laureate Fridtjof Nansen to lend his name to an organization dedicated to rescuing Jews. When another Nobel Peace Laurence, Christian Lange and foreign minister Halvdan Koht added their voices to Paasche’s, Nansen agreed to form the organization.

The organization was small from the onset: Tove Filseth est devenu icts full-time secretary, Sigrid Helliesen Lund Was named board member and field operative, attorney Fredrik Winsnes Helweg , and professors Georg Morgenstierne and Edgar Schieldrop aussi est devenu board members.

More than most organizations, the organization needs significant funds to be successful. The Norwegian government insisted that it should not be a burden to the state, and that it should not be allowed to pay. The labor unions similarly Some refugees nevertheless found unauthorized and secret employment.

Campaign in Prague

Already in January 1939, Nansen feels Ms. Soneth and his own wife Kari to establish a field office in Prague . The head of the Norwegian passport office, Leif Ragnvald Konstad , assisting and excluding visas for the organization of sponsorship, excluding “weak and sick” individuals from consideration. Meanwhile, Nansen and Paasche continued their fund-raising activities, where they had to overcome both Depression-era frugality and considerable anti-Semitism. Several donors agreed that their contribution would not benefit Jews. Nansen traveled to Prague with Konstad, once again, and quickly filled the quota provided by the raised funds.

Konstad once again returned to Norway, but Nansen remained in Prague to pre-process applications and help in any other way he could. In addition to their office, the Hotel Esplanade . During this time, Czech army physician Leo Eitinger volunteered to become a refugee. The Nansens and Filseth also built contacts throughout the city, including the Red Cross and Quaker relief organizations.

In March 1939, the three Norwegians Responded to a call from contacts in Bratislava That antisemitic attacks in Slovakia HAD escalated with the independence from the central government and Czech ascent of Monsignor Jozef Tiso . On the day of their arrival, the Nansens and Sonsh witnessed first hand against the hands of the Hlinka Guard, and Odd Nansen managed to arrange a meeting with Tiso, whom Nansen characterized as “a fat thickset priest, in a floor length cassock, with a holy cross in gold dangling a gold chain on his chest – and with a pair of staring dark eyes behind gold framed glasses. ” Impressed by Nansen’s pedigree, Tiso assured him that the detention of Jews in concentration camp was merely a protective measure against “the agitated masses.”

Nansen was unconvinced but traveled to Vienna and back, all the while registering rampant riots, plundering and systematic persecution of Jews in the wake of Nazi supremacy. In transit through Bratislava, Nansen has been exempted from the rule of law and entered into the city where he witnessed firsthand that German, Austrian soldiers and paramilitary forces would cross over to Austria and join Hlinka Guard members to ransack and pillage the Jewish section. of the city. Nansen tried in vain to register to the tiso and the chief of police, eventually giving up and returning to where he would have hoped.

While he was traveling, he had returned to Norway to help refugees settle in there. Kari Nansen had joined forces with, among others, the American and British Quaker organizations, to help Jewish refugees get across the border to Poland .

Czechoslovakia on March 15, the Nansens joined forces with Red Cross and the high commissioner for refugees in Prague, Dr. Podajski in appealing to European governments to accept emergency refugees and emergency relief funds to effect their departure. In cooperation with Vladislav Klumpbar , the Czech Ministry of Social Welfare and Health, the group worked through the night between March 14 and 15 to identify and secure the escape of the 8,000 – 9,000 refugees most in danger when and if the Nazis took over.

Having been told by Rudolf Kac , the leader of the Communist Refugee Group, he managed to reach the Klumpbar and Podajski in the early morning. Podajski told Nansen about the phone that the rumors were overblown, but Nansen actually saw German soldiers marching through the streets as the two were talking.

The Nansens had secured visas for about 80 refugees who were waiting outside the hotel that morning, awaiting their promised departure. Nansen made inquiries at several foreign missions in Prague before the Norwegian consul, Hribek, issued visas to all those whose passports were left with him. The Nansens were themselves evicted from the hotel to make room for Gestapo officials. They were able to find room in the Alcron Hotel , where they found one of their fellow guests was Erich Hoepner , a Germany army general. The Nansens sought out the world of children and adults, apparently behind the backs of the Gestapo. The Nansens helped the remaining male refugees across the border to Poland.

Tove Filseth returned to Prague, and the organization resumed efforts to secure visas and both legal and illegal departures from Czech territories. Funds quickly ran out, though, as much of the travel had to be paid for with snatches. The refugee flow through Poland HAD Become more Organized, with the Norwegian ambassador Niels Christian Ditleff supplier providing food, clothing, and transportation to Gdynia , Where They Could travel by sea to Norway.

On March 26, 1939, the Nansens Traveled by train to Berlin and separated at Tempelhof airport, Odd Nansen flying to London to seek help from the Lord Herbert Emerson , the League of Nations high commissioner for refugees. Emerson had been ignored by Nansen’s previous telegrams but was more receptive in person. He agreed to send an email to Warsaw to assess the situation. Nansen took his cause to the British parliament and the Sovietambassador to St. James, Ivan Maisky , where he was rebuffed, though the ambassador expressed his deep appreciation for Nansen’s father’s efforts to alleviate the Ukrainian famine .

Activities in Norway

On returning to Norway, Nansen approached Norwegian politicians to persuade his government to provide financial support for refugees. Trygve Lie , the minister of justice at the time, agreed to supporting Nansen’s request for financial backing if he has persuaded Could majorité of the Norwegian parliament to vote for the measure. Nansen persuaded every party in parliament to vote for such a grant, with the exception of the Agrarian party, which at least promised to abstain. This resulted in an infusion of NOK 500,000 to the cause, though Nansenhjelpen had to share it with the Labor Justice Fund. [1]

Saving children

The organization was last evacuated to a number of Jewish children in Bratislava, Prague, and Brno . After securing their visas, they agreed in Berlin , where they stayed at a synagogue and traveled by train via Sweden to Norway. See Jewish Children’s Home in Oslo .


After Norway was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany starting on April 9, 1940, there could be no more attempts to rescue Jews from the continent. On January 13, 1942, Nansen was arrested by the Gestapo in Norway. He was kept in captivity at Møllergata 19 , Grini concentration camp , and finally at Sachsenhausen , from where he returned in May 1945. [2]


  1. Jump up^ Cohen, Maynard M. (1997). Stand Against Tyranny: Norway’s Physicians and the Nazis . Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN  978-0814329344 . 63-82.
  2. Jump up^ “Buried Alive” . Time . 1949-01-31 . Retrieved 2008-02-10 .

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