Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Posts tagged “Norway

Fridtjof Nansen

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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 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 “Nansen passport” for stateless persons, a certificate 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. Nansen was honoured by many nations, and his name is commemorated in numerous geographical features, particularly in the polar regions.

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The capture of Henry Rinnan, notorious Norwegian Gestapo agent, mass murderer, torturer and war criminal. Verdallsfjellen, near the Norwegian border to Sweden; May 14th, 1945

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Henry Oliver Rinnan (14 May 1915 – 1 February 1947) was a notorious Norwegian Gestapo agent in the area around Trondheim, Norway during World War II.

Rinnan led a group called Sonderabteilung Lola. This group, known as Rinnanbanden among Norwegians, had fifty known members. Among them were Karl Dolmen, Arild Hjulstad-Østby and Ivar and Kitty Grande.

Born in Levanger on 14 May 1915, Rinnan was the eldest of eight children in an impoverished family. Unusually short (1.61 metres – 5 ft 3 in), he was a loner during his childhood. He worked briefly for his uncle, but was sacked for theft.

During the Winter War, Rinnan tried to enlist with the Finns to fight against the Soviet Union, but was rejected due to his poor physique.

During the Norwegian Campaign in 1940, he drove a truck for the Norwegian Army. According to Rinnan, he was recruited by the Gestapo in June 1940. His parents were members of Nasjonal Samling, but it is uncertain if he ever was a member himself. After the war, former members of Nasjonal Samling attempted to disassociate themselves from the group, which was seen as a pro-German unit.

Beginning in September 1943, the Rinnanbanden had its headquarters in Jonsvannsveien 46 in Trondheim, known as Bandeklosteret (“gang monastery”). Rinnan worked closely with the German Sicherheitspolizei in Trondheim, where his main contacts were Gerhard Flesch and Walter Gemmecke. During this decade the private residence of the Rinnan family was in the captured house of Landstads Vei 1, located approximately one kilometre from the gang’s headquarters.

The members of the independent Gestapo unit Sonderabteilung Lola infiltrated the resistance movement by engaging people in conversation in buses, trains, cafés, etc., encouraging them to talk about their attitudes toward the Nazi occupation. Having identified people who they thought were in the resistance, Rinnan’s agents worked to build trust with them and penetrate their networks. The Rinnan gang was responsible for the death of at least a hundred people in the Norwegian resistance and the British Special Operations Executive, for torturing hundreds of prisoners, for more than a thousand arrests, for compromising several hundred resistance groups, and in some cases, for deceiving people into carrying out missions for the Germans. Rinnan operated with impunity and little interference from his German taskmasters, often using murder and torture as sanctioned means.

During the war Rinnan was appointed “SS-Untersturmführer der Reserve”, and received the Iron Cross 2nd grade in 1944.

After Germany’s capitulation in May 1945, Rinnan and a band of followers tried to escape into Sweden, but were caught. On 24 December he escaped from prison again, gathered some followers, but they were again apprehended after a few days.

In the course of two trials after the war, forty-one members of the Rinnan group were convicted and sentenced. Twelve received sentences of execution by firing squad from the court of Frostating on 20 September 1946. Ten of those death sentences were carried out. Eleven other defendants were sentenced to lifelong forced labour (later pardoned), while the rest were given long prison sentences.

Rinnan was sentenced for personally murdering thirteen people, but the real number may be higher.

Four hours after midnight on 1 February 1947, Rinnan was taken from his cell in Kristiansten Fortress. A guard blindfolded him and led him outside, where he was tied to a pole. He showed no fear at his fate. At 04:05, Rinnan was executed by firing squad. He was cremated, and later unofficially buried at the Levanger Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

Forty percent of the people executed as a result of Norwegian war crimes trials after the Second World War were connected to Sonderabteilung Lola.

(Source)


Norway receives one of its first shipments of bananas; ca. 1905

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This is at least one of the first batches of banana that was imported into Norway. One of the persons in this picture is Christian Mathiessen, the founder of Norway’s biggest fruit importer, Bama. Norway was the second country to import bananas into Europe, after the UK.


 

Although bananas may only look like a fruit, they represent a wide variety of environmental, economic, social, and political problems. The banana trade symbolizes economic imperialism, injustices in the global trade market, and the globalization of the agricultural economy. Bananas are also number four on the list of staple crops in the world and one of the biggest profit makers in supermarkets, making them critical for economic and global food security. As one of the first tropical fruits to be exported, bananas were a cheap way to bring “the tropics” to North America and Europe. Bananas have become such a common, inexpensive grocery item that we often forget where they come from and how they got here.

(Rebecca Cohen, Global Issues for Breakfast: The Banana Industry and its Problems, The Science Creative Quarterly, Issue 3, 2008)


Nine European Kings; May 20th, 1910.

This photo was taken at the funeral of British King Edward VII, May 20, 1910.

"So...what do you all think about having a little tussle with the French in a couple years?" "Only if the Russians join in..."

“So…what do you all think about having a little tussle with the French in a couple years?”
“Only if the Russians join in…”

Standing from Left –

Haakon VII, King of Norway
Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria 
Manuel II, King of Portugal
Wilhelm II, German Emperor 
George I, King of Greece 
Albert I, King of the Belgians

Seated from the Left –

Alfonso XIII, King of Spain
George V, King of Great Britain
Frederick VIII, King of Denmark

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A Sami child riding on a reindeer in Norway; ca. 1900.

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A whaling ship surrounded by several dead whales lying in the sea at Spitsbergen, Norway; ca. 1905.

This picture makes me sad but it’s fascinating nonetheless to see such a grand, morbid sight.

 Prior to the invention of the modern petrochemical industry, whale oil was prized for illumination since it burned very cleanly in oil lamps. It was also used for lots of specialized lubrication applications such as clockworks and transmission gearboxes. In the US, whale oil was used until the signing of the 1972 Endangered Species Act.


The first snowplow in Norway; ca. 1923

Snow plows have not changed one bit since 1923.

Snow plows have not changed one bit since 1923.

Based on an Opel truck, the plow was made by Hans and Even Overaasen.


A happy Roald Amundsen just passed a dangerous ridge of ice up towards the South Pole Plateau, which he called Hell’s Gate, November 30, 1911.

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National AArchives of Norway flickr commons


Lofoten – Arctic Circle Anomaly

The archipelago of Lofoten in Norway is north of the Arctic Circle.  Yet throughout the year it has temperatures which belie its position.

This is because of the largest positive temperature anomaly in the world relative to latitude.

It makes Lofoten an unexpected delight – its early settlers must have thought they had stumbled across an arctic paradise.

Prepare to have your breath taken away.

What they found there was a sea teeming with life and the largest deep water coral reef in the word.  There are literally millions of sea birds with many species represented, such as the sea eagle, the cormorant and the puffin.  Otter are common in the area and on the larger islands of the archipelago there are moose.

The settlers gave one of the islands (now known as Vestvågøya) the name Lofoten which is Norse for the foot of the lynx.  Another island (now Flakstadøya) meant the foot of the wolf and indeed the islands do resemble in their shape the tracks of these animals.  Now, however, the whole archipelago if known as Lofoten and it makes up a district in the Norwegian county of Nordland.

The first settlers must have arrived here centuries before but the archipelago, because of its climate, has been the center of huge cod fisheries for over a millennia.  Vågan is the first recorded town in the area of northern Norway and was certainly thriving in Viking times. The village of Kabelvåg is close to where it was.

People were drawn to the area mostly because of the sea life.  Cod, migrating south from the Barents Sea gather in Lofoten to spawn and the fishing industry has long capitalized on that.  For centuries Norway was the place from which large amounts of cod were exported to most of Northern Europe.

As time went on Lofoten became the name for the whole chain of islands.  Its pointed peaks certainly do look like a lynx foot when seen from the mainland.  It is sometimes also referred to as Lofotveggen or the Lofoten Wall as, when seen from the highest points on the islands, it does resemble a wall enclosing and sheltering those behind it.

In fact the line up of the islands means that a 1100 meter high wall of mountains and cliffs on the north side of the Vestfjord protect the area.  Yet what really creates the anomaly is the Gulf Streams, together with its extensions the Norwegian Current and the North Atlantic Current. The sight of gently flowing rivers is enough to make you wonder if you are indeed in the arctic cirlce.

Lofoten is well known in Norway for its outstanding natural beauty but its reputation does not seem to have really become global.  Lofoten has the potential to become a wonderful location for tourism and is as idyllic asCancun Mexico or Jamaica vacations. Located at the 68th and 69th parallels north of the Arctic Circle it must surely be one of the most incredibly beautiful natural places on the planet not to mention tranquil.

The islands of the archipelago are noted most for their mountains with their elongated peaks which look almost like something out of a fantasy novel.  One would hardly be surprised if the inhabitants of the houses turned out to be some hobbit-like race of beings.

They are also famous for the stretches of sea shore with sandy beaches which lie on the sheltered inlets.  Yet there is danger.  The infamous Malstrøm system of tidal eddies is in western Lofoten.  No guesses which word we get from that.  Yet close to the shore of the archipelago the seas are generally calm and clear.

The archipelago is the most northerly place in the world where the average temperature is above zero all year.    January is on average -1.5 C and the summer months have an average of 13C – for the whole twenty four hours of the day. The warmest temperature ever recorded there was 30.4C.  So it is not desperately warm but when you consider where it is…

The place is so far north that here you can experience the midnight sun.  From May 26 – July 17 the sun in above the horizon for twenty four hours a day.  Yet in the winter you must expect no sunlight at all from December 9 to January 4.  Neither condition is ideal for human habitation or happiness, so there is a downside to the place.

For tourists, however, the midnight sun gives ample and extra opportunities such as climbing and canoeing (or sea kayaking).  There are also cycle paths which connect many of the local communities and road traffic is generally light. In fact there is an annual Lofoten Insomnia Race for cyclists which takes place along the whole archipelago to take advantage of the midnight sun.

The three local airports each year serve only just over 100 thousand people (locals and tourists included in the figures) meaning that the archipelago is little spoiled by the trappings of tourism.  It is little wonder that the place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site or that National Geographic Traveler called the Lofoten archiplegalo the third most appealing islands in the world.

Perhaps the place’s lack of fame outside of Norway is something deliberate. After all, would you want to share this place with the rest of the world?


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FUTURE HOME:

My dream home is a fishermen’s cottage in some yet to be determined Scandinavian country.