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Fridtjof Nansen and the Plight of Stateless Refugees

Roy Knocke

Nansen’s lasting legacy in the history of modern humanitarianism.

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May 2022


Fridtjof Nansen and the Plight of Stateless Refugees

Fridtjof Nansen is best known for the eponymous passport which allowed hundreds of thousands stateless refugees, including survivors of the Armenian Genocide, the ability to resettle and start anew in the aftermath of World War I. Dr. Roy Knocke considers how the renowned scientist and Arctic explorer became a central figure in addressing the colossal refugee crisis in post-war Europe, overseeing the successful repatriation of hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war amidst escalating political tensions, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his humanitarian work. Nansen’s ideas for relief work were ahead of his time and have left a profound legacy in the history of modern humanitarianism.


Dr. Roy Knocke is the director of the Potsdam Lepsius House and associate lecturer at the University of Potsdam on the history of genocide, history of humanitarianism and the moral history of extreme political violence in the 20th century. He has published works on Franz Werfel and the Armenian Genocide, and on the origins, manifestations, and aftermath of political violence in the 20th century.


Topics: Biography/Memoir Genocide History