NANSEN Fridtjof - Autograph Letter Signed 1923 reporting on Red Cross aid during the Russian famine
Fridtjof NANSEN (1861-1930)Autograph Letter Signed (“Fridtjof Nansen”) to an unidentified acquaintance, thanking him for his hospitality in Kharkov and announcing that he had received news of funding from the Red Cross which would cover payments until the end of April.
2 pages 4to in Norwegian, Moscow, 31 January 1923.
Thanking his friend, Nansen writes that [trans:] “. . . I think back and those beautiful days in Kharkov are a . . . revelation. . . . I thank with all my heart for that time, which was far too short. It was like an oasis in a desert life, wonderfully pleasant from the first when a lovely . . . lady made me welcome . . . with a sunny smile. And the sunshine kept fresh & warm . . . until dusk, when I left in sad snow drives & the sun was gone. . . sometimes there comes a ray of sun - a single rare time it warms a few fleeting hours . . .
The first telegram I opened here upon our arrival said that the Danish Red Cross is willing to pay a salary for Eybye [?] and Miss Piedemand until April 30, and that was a pleasure. . . . I will meet Quisling in Berlin and will discuss the arrangement with him.”
In a postscript, Nansen adds that [trans:] “I cannot for the moment give any other address than “Lysaker Norway” as I do not know when I travel. . . . Say hello to the young girls who gave me the cake . . . and thank them from me. . . .”
At the end of the First World War, Nansen undertook the task of organizing the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war under the auspices of the League of Nations. Before this task had even neared completion, he was faced with further urgent situations in Russia, where crop failures and the internal chaos in the aftermath of the revolution led to famine, a problem exacerbated by the number of refugees displaced by the revolution. He created the “Nansen Passport” which allowed refugees, many of whom lacked any form of identity documentation, to travel to safety.
The famine proved harder to tackle, in part due to the Soviets’ reluctance to accept foreign aid with conditions attached, and in part because of foreign reluctance to deal with the new Soviet order.
In 1922, Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the repatriation of prisoners of war, assisting Russian refugees and efforts in relieving the Russian famine. He donated his prize money to the relief efforts.
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