Odd Nansen

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Odd Nansen (6 December 1901 – 27 June 1973) was a Norwegian architect, author, and humanitarian, credited with his humanitarian efforts on behalf of Jews in the early years of World War II and for being a founder of UNICEF.


Odd Nansen was the son of the scientist and explorer Fridtjof Nansen and was raised at Lysaker outside of Oslo. After his mother, Eva Nansen, died in 1907, he was raised in the home of shipowner Klaveness.

Educated an architect and apprenticed to Arnstein Arneberg, he formed Nansenhjelpen in 1939 to provide relief for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in central Europe, focusing his efforts on the situation in Czechoslovakia. His wife Kari Nansen, he, and Tove Filseth established a field office in Prague and traveled extensively in Europe in 1939 to get attention and help for refugees facing imminent destruction.[1]

After returning to Norway, he joined the nascent Norwegian resistance and was himself arrested and detained by the Gestapo, and ultimately deported to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.[2] He was also a forced laborer at the Veidal Prison Camp.[3] Nansen maintained a diary during his imprisonment that he hid and preserved. These diaries were published after the war and provide an in-depth, first hand account of life and death in Nazi concentration camps.[4]

He survived captivity in the camps and returned to Norway where he resumed his architectural career, while also initiating several humanitarian efforts. He was the president of One World from 1947 to 1956 and is considered a co-founder of UNICEF. He was also a co-founder of the Nansen Academy in Norway. He led restoration work for his childhood home at Polhøgda.[5]

Among Nansen's architectural works are the main terminal building at the (now decommissioned) Fornebo airport from 1963. His son is the architect, athlete, and humanist Eigil Nansen, and his daughter is writer Marit Greve.


  1. ^ Cohen, Maynard M. (1997). A Stand Against Tyranny: Norway's Physicians and the Nazis. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0814326039. 63-82. 
  2. ^ "Buried Alive". Time. 1949-01-31. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  3. ^ Forty, George. 2002. Fortress Europe: Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Hersham, UK: Ian Allan, p. 33
  4. ^ "Nansen, Odd" (in Norwegian). NorgesLexi.com. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Liseter, Ivar (1949-01-31). "Polhøgda - from the home of Fridtjof Nansen to the Fridtjof Nansen Institute" (PDF). Lysaker: The Fridtjof Nansen Institute. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 


  • Nansen, Odd (1965) [1946]. Fra dag til dag (in Norwegian). Oslo: Dreyer. 
  • Nansen, Odd (1949). From Day to Day. G. P. Putnam's Sons. ASIN B0007DQ3BU.  is the English translation of Fra dag til dag
  • Nansen, Odd (1970). Tommy - en sannferdig fortelling (in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyldendal. ASIN B0007B4E40.  - a book about Thomas Buergenthal
  • Nansen, Odd (2016) (Timothy J. Boyce, Editor). From Day to Day: One Man's Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps. Vanderbilt University Press[1]
  1. ^ From Day to Day: One Man's Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/university-press/book/9780826521002