by Øyvind Tønnesson
Nobelprize.org Peace Editor, 1998-2000
During the Second World War no Nobel Peace Prize was awarded. Under the German occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1945 normal political activity was banned, and there was little the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting could do except postpone the prize awards and defend its integrity. To say that the Committee was not popular with the Nazi regime would be an understatement. Indeed, the award of the prize to the anti-militarist Carl von Ossietzky in 1936 had so infuriated Hitler as to make him forbid all Germans to receive any Nobel prize. Yet, during the occupation none of the committee members were troubled as such by the Germans, and the Nobel Institute was not forced to close. «Our institution has happily avoided foreign interference during the five years of war», the director of the Nobel Institute wrote in June 1945. How could that be?
When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, Norway was among the neutral states of Europe. The strategic position of the country was considered important by the belligerent powers, however, and its position therefore soon became precarious. When, on 9 April 1940, Germany invaded the country, the Norwegian government, assisted by military units from Great Britain, France and Poland, tried to resist , but by early June, after about two months of fighting, almost the entire country was under German military control. By then, the Norwegian royal family, the government, and a number of political leaders had fled the country. Among them were three members of the Nobel Committee, Halvdan Koht, Martin Tranmæl and Carl Joachim Hambro – two leading Labour politicians and the Conservative president of the Storting.
|Under the German occupation of Norway in
1940-1945, the country was turned into a kind of fortress.
After the German capitulation, as many as 350, 000 soldiers
had to be returned to Germany. Above photo shows German
soldiers marching along Oslo's main street after having
arrived by ship on 10 April 1940. The Storting
(Parliament) in the background.
Copyright © Scanpix
Like many other European countries, Norway had a Fascist party, Nasjonal Samling (NS) – «National Union». Despite its very limited popular support, the Führer, Vidkun Quisling, desired to take power, effect a «revolution» and turn Norway into an «independent» ally of Nazi Germany. German occupation authorities were reluctant , but in September, when they failed to have the Storting depose the King and appoint a new government acceptable to Hitler, a new German-controlled NS government, without Quisling, was appointed and all political organisations except the NS were banned. In February 1942 Quisling got the title of Ministerpresident. Until the German surrender in 1945, he claimed to hold the powers of a Norwegian government and parliament, but the real power lay with the German Reichskommissariat. Indeed, the story of the Nobel Committee and Nobel Institute during the occupation illustrates the powerlessness of the Quisling government when it was not propped up by the Reichskommissariat.
Fully conscious of Hitler's ill will to the Nobel Committee, its members as well as the staff of the Oslo Nobel Institute may well have had reasons to fear possible retaliatory action when German soldiers marched into the Norwegian capital. Two weeks after the German invasion their first direct encounter with a German representative was reported to the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm by way of the Swedish envoy in Oslo.
A brief look into the files of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm suffices to see that there had been extensive correspondence between the Swedish foundation and the Norwegian Nobel Institute before 9 April. Then it stopped for a couple of weeks, and when correspondence was resumed by the end of the month, the letters were brought by Swedish diplomatic courier. The first letters concerned the need for money to keep up activities in Oslo, and the danger that the Germans might take over the Nobel Institute building, conveniently located in the centre of Oslo.
The chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Storting, professor Stang, in a phone call this afternoon, told me that he had just been visited by a German officer who – in company with some other Germans - had had a look at the premises of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. They expressed their intention to take over the building.» (The Swedish Envoy to Oslo, Friherre Beck-Friis, in a letter to the Foreign Office in Stockholm.)1
The German occupation authorities required offices and housing in Oslo, and took possession of several buildings, primarily buildings owned by the State or local authorities. Since the Norwegian Nobel Institute was directed by the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting and the Institute's director served as secretary to the Committee, the German officer who came to look at the building on 23 April may reasonably have regarded it as a public institution. However, when he visited the committee chairman, professor Stang, he was told that the Nobel Institute building belonged to the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, and consequently was Swedish property. German representatives did not subsequently contact the Swedish envoy to Oslo on the matter, and made no further attempts to take over the Nobel Institute, but the director of the Swedish Nobel Foundation, Ragnar Sohlman, supplied the envoy with all necessary proof that the building belonged to the foundation, and the latter promised «to defend this Swedish interest against encroachments with all possible means».2 At the request of professor Stang and Ragnvald Moe, director of the Nobel Institute, Sohlman and the Swedish envoy also arranged for the Nobel Committee to receive a rather large sum of money (50,000 kronor) in order to keep up the activities in Oslo.
|The Norwegian Nobel Institute,
conveniently located in the center of Oslo, but not available
to German authorities because in legal terms it was Swedish
Copyright © The Norwegian Nobel Institute
Throughout the war, the argument that the Nobel Institute and everything concerned with the Nobel Peace Prize belonged, in legal terms, to the Nobel Foundation, was used to guard the institution against interference from German or Norwegian Nazi authorities. We do not know whether, at any point, the German representatives in Norway actually considered closing down the Nobel Institute or deposing the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting. Such a course would no doubt in any case have required the explicit approval of Berlin. In May 1940, the Swedish envoy to Oslo wrote to his superiors in Stockholm that he considered it unlikely that the Germans would venture to provoke world opinion by such an action. Six months later, however, it became clear that there were people in the NS party who did want to take over the Nobel Committee and depose its present members elected by the pre-war Storting, against which the NS harboured much bitterness.
On 12 November 1940, the Norwegian jurist Herman Harris Aall, a prominent member of the NS, wrote a memorandum to the German Reichskommissar Joseph Terboven about the Nobel Committee. He argued that the latest appointment of committee members by the Storting in 1940 had not been in accordance with the statutes, and that the members who had left the country had lost their membership. Harris Aall, who only recently had been appointed professor of law by Vidkun Quisling, recommended that the Nobel Committee should be deposed and its tasks provisionally transferred to the Ministry of Church and Cultural affairs. If nothing was done within the next few days, he warned, one might risk that the remaining committee members would meet and thereby establish a precedent for continued operation. He believed that a more lasting solution for the Nobel Committee had to be reached through negotiations with the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, and that such negotiations should be carried out by the German envoy to the Swedish capital. Furthermore, he thought that one should consider taking control of the entire Nobel Foundation - as part of the future ideological reorganisation of Europe.3
In November 1940, German victory in the war seemed likely – to those who wished it, and also to those for whom it was a nightmare. To many people at the time, resisting a Nazi revolution seemed futile. But the Nobel Committee in Oslo and the board of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm had already made important decisions and taken a definite stand. Neither of them had any intention of negotiating with German representatives or the Quisling authorities. On 25 September, the chairman of the committee had informed the Nobel Foundation that the committee had decided not to make any award that year. The precedent that Harris Aall wanted to avoid had already taken place. More importantly, on the very day when the latter wrote his letter to the German Reichskommissar, Ragnar Sohlman, the director of the Nobel Foundation, arrived on a visit to Oslo. In a meeting with Fredrik Stang, Gunnar Jahn and Ragnvald Moe he confirmed that the foundation's board considered the committee's decisions valid as long as at least three members/deputy members supported them. Without knowing anything about Harris Aall's initiative, the four of them also discussed the possibility of the NS managing to convene some new type of Norwegian parliament and then demanding a replacement, by members loyal to the NS, of the committee members who had left the country. The three Norwegians made it clear that if this was going to happen, they would protest and, if necessary, resign from the committee. Sohlman then stated that, in his opinion, the board of the Nobel Foundation could scarcely accept such a replacement.4 The representatives of the Nobel Foundation and the Norwegian Nobel Committee were determined to stand firm if confronted by NS or German authorities and to trust each other.
Director Sohlman's November visit to Oslo was not the first since the war in Norway had started. In July, he had met with the Swedish envoy, the director of the Nobel Institute, two bank managers, and the President of the High Court of Justice, Mr. Paal Berg. The latter was at the time a member of Adminstrasjonsrådet (the interim Non-Nazi civil administration). At the Nobel Institute, Sohlman also met Mr. Gunnar Jahn, member of the Nobel Committee and acting «finance minister» of the Administrasjonsråd. Later, in a strictly confidential memorandum to the board of the Nobel Foundation – it was only presented orally – Sohlman stated that Jahn, during their conversation, gave «interesting information about the relationship between the Administrasjonsråd and the German occupation authorities, the German demand for the deposition of the King and the government etc.».5
It is quite clear, both from notes Sohlman took during his visits and from other sources, that he did not go to Oslo in 1940 only to discuss matters related to the Nobel Committee. «He was very concerned to rebuild a good relationship between Sweden and Norway. That was his mission here», Gunnar Jahn wrote in his diary of 13 November.6 From the Swedish Foreign Office Sohlman had received two copies of a confidential memorandum about alleged German transit through Sweden during the fighting in Norway (i.e. until June), which he handed over to Moe and Jahn. At the time there was much bitterness among Norwegians after insistent rumours (later verified) that the Swedish government had let German supplies and soldiers pass through Sweden. Having failed to convince Norwegians that the rumours were incorrect, Sohlman wrote that: «Among the Norwegians I met it seems that the «Quislings» are considered to be the nation's enemy No. 1 and the Germans No. 2. Then it looks as though many people are putting the Swedes in third place and the English as No. 4.»
|Ragnar Sohlman, in his younger days
Alfred Nobel's assistant, later Director of the Nobel
Foundation, was strongly committed to the Nobel Foundation,
and being married to a Norwegian woman, he was concerned to
maintain a cordial relationship between Norway and
Photo: Knut Thyberg
Courtesy of Sohlman family
Gunnar Jahn, who was soon to become one of the leaders of the national resistance in Norway, gave Ragnar Sohlman some information about developments in Norway, e.g. regional differences in support of the NS, and examples of the German military's poor ability to adjust to Norwegian mentality. Sohlman also quoted Jahn as saying that «one had been in doubt whether or not to issue a warning to the right persons in Sweden about recent movements and concentration of German troops along the (Norwegian side of the) Swedish border».7 To the Swedish director, it must have seemed probable that Jahn was personally involved in Norwegian resistance on a very high level.
Ragnar Sohlman paid new visits to Oslo in 1941, 1942 and 1943, each time writing comprehensive reports to the board of the Nobel Foundation. We do not know whether he also reported to another body, e.g. to the Swedish government. Given the fact that the Nobel Foundation was dependent on assistance from the Swedish Foreign Office, it would not be surprising if he did.
One week after Sohlman's return from Oslo, the Swedish Foreign Office informed him about the content of Herman Harris Aall's memorandum, which had been shown to the Swedish vice consul in Oslo by someone whose name should not be revealed. The position of the Nobel Foundation was made clear by Sohlman in a letter to the vice consul a few days later: «The present members of the Nobel Committee have been elected in due form for a period up to 1942/some of them until 1945, and in the opinion of the Foundation's board they are entitled to act as members till the end of their term. (…) Should the Norwegian Nobel Committee be made incapable of fulfilling its duties, the board of the Nobel Foundation may feel obliged to entrust the management of its property in Norway to another body.»8 Harris Aall's memorandum led to no immediate action, but in early December a representative of the Reichskommissariat, Dr. Knab of the Gestapo, informally asked Gunnar Jahn for information about the Norwegian Nobel Committee and the Nobel Foundation's property in Oslo. The Swedish vice consul was informed, and in a subsequent report to Stockholm on the incident, he added that he, personally, had «the most friendly relations» with Dr. Knab – «a fact which should make it considerably easier if a conflict of interest should develop, in which the consulate would be occasioned to involve itself».9
In the following months, the Swedish consulate did not become further involved, although the Reichskommissariat actually seemed to have decided that matters related to the Nobel Institute should be handled by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. An assistant secretary of the Ministry of the Interior in the Quisling government presented himself at the Nobel Institute to inform Director Moe about this decision in March 1941, but he received no hearty welcome. «We did not hear more from him or any ministry again», Moe recalled in 1945.10
|Norwegian Nazis looked upon themselves as
real patriots, but were totally dependent on German military
power. Photo: Vidkun Quisling (second from right) is shown
arriving at Akershus castle for the ceremony in which he was
appointed Ministerpresident on February 1, 1942. In
front of him is Reichskommisar Joseph Terboven.
Copyright © Scanpix
In July 1941, the Ministry of the Interior asked the Ministry of Church and Education why nothing had been done about the Nobel Committee, and Professor Harris Aall drafted an answer on behalf of the latter ministry. He stated that the reason why nothing had been done was a perceived risk that such action might cause somebody to question the Norwegian people's right to retain the task of awarding Alfred Nobel's Peace Prize. «If the affairs of the Nobel Committee are not decided by Norway», he now wrote, «but by another state, a Great Power, and not by five persons selected by the Storting but instead by a government department instructed by the representative of the Great Power concerned, the question may arise as to whether the stipulations of the testament are observed, and if Norway's right to handle the matter can thus be disputed. It can scarcely be doubted that such an interpretation might appeal to certain quarters abroad [by which Harris Aall obviously referred to Sweden] and that it would constitute a degradation of Norway's international esteem if such a view should win the ground».
The difference between Harris Aall's way of arguing in November 1940 and July 1941, reveals the dilemma in which many Norwegian Nazis found themselves: They wanted a Nazi revolution supplanting the institutions of liberal democracy, but at the same time they saw themselves as genuine Norwegian patriots and defenders of the national pride and prestige.
Committee chairman Fredrik Stang died in late 1941, and Gunnar Jahn became his successor. Only three members/deputy members - the minimum required for taking valid decisions - were left in Norway. Although the committee members and the institute director had heard no more from the NS authorities or the Reichskommissariat, the continued function of the committee or the institute was far from secure.
As mentioned earlier, Ragnar Sohlman came back to Oslo in 1941, 1942 and 1943. He did so partly to solve purely financial matters, but also to be able to speak to Ragnvald Moe, Gunnar Jahn and other Norwegians with whom he met during his visits. Before each visit he asked director Moe for «permission» – he was anxious that he might cause trouble for his Norwegian friends, who, however, showed little fear. In a memorandum on a visit 5-13 November 1942, for instance, Sohlman commented on a dinner in Ragnvald Moe's home outside Oslo: «All the Norwegians present were unmistakably Norwegian patriots - Jøssinger. According to one of them they were all included on the list, which allegedly has been made by the Quisling authorities, comprising a total number of 185 persons who shall be taken into custody as hostages in order to save the lives of those now in power in case of a German breakdown.»11
By the end of 1942, the membership term for some of the members of the Nobel Committee formally expired. During the dinner at Moe's, director Sohlman had a discussion with Moe, Jahn and three jurists – the President of the High Court, Paal Berg, was one of them – about what should be done to avoid failure of the committee to reach the required quorum. They concluded that the board of the Nobel Foundation should ask the members to stay on for one more year. So it did, and the committee members declared that they felt obliged to comply with the request. Once again, their task was first of all to decide not to give any award in 1943.12
But at this point Ragnar Sohlman was becoming increasingly afraid that the Quisling authorities might take action to depose the committee and take over the Institute building. It was doubtful that they would accept the procedure followed when the committee members' term was prolonged. Sohlman knew that the Swedish General Consulate needed more space, and in March 1943, he suggested to Moe that the Institute should let the consulate have one or two of its rooms. Moe agreed, and soon after, the staff from the consulate moved in, thereby showing a stronger Swedish presence.
The activity at the Nobel Institute in Oslo was limited. The Institute's library was open and people from around the country could order books from most parts of its collection. However, observing restrictions laid down by the Quisling authorities, the staff had removed certain types of literature from the shelves. More importantly, the library was unable to acquire new literature from abroad. In the spring of 1943, Moe, Sohlman and the Swedish consulate agreed to do something about it. Through the rest of the war, with only a temporary break in early 1944, Moe got lists of new literature from a Swedish bookstore. He then wrote to Sohlman, and the latter ordered and paid for the books which were subsequently sent by Swedish courier to the Swedish consulate and then handed over to the library. In 1944 and 1945 Sohlman also arranged for other goods – food, clothes, shoes – to be sent by courier to the staff of the Institute. From the files, it would seem that he spent a considerable part of his working time helping his Norwegian colleagues and defending the property of the Nobel Foundation against encroachments by the occupation authorities or the NS.
On 13 December 1943, at the request of the Nobel Foundation, Ragnvald Moe wrote to the members of the Nobel Committee asking them to stay on the committee for another year. They all agreed, but now Ministerpresident Quisling had decided to take action against the committee. On 15 December he made the following decision:
Since the membership terms have expired for all members and deputy members of the Nobel Committee except Mr. C.J. Hambro and Mr. Martin Tranmæl, and because the membership of the two last ones are considered to have ended when they fled the country, I hereby appoint (…) deputy secretary, consul Finn Støren as ombudsman (commissioner) with the task of provisionally exercising the functions of the Nobel Committee from 1 January 1944.
On 3 January 1944 Finn Støren wrote to the Swedish Consul General, Claes Westring, informing him about Quisling's decision. When, on 5 January, the consulate received the letter, the Swedish Foreign Office, the Nobel Foundation, the Nobel Institute in Oslo and Gunnar Jahn were all immediately informed. At the Nobel Institute all «prohibited» literature were moved into the two rooms used by the consulate, and sensitive archival material was taken to the consulate's main offices a few blocks away. The following day, Westring met with Jahn and Moe at the institute to discuss what could be done. Jahn made it clear that he would not risk being arrested by refusing to resign from the committee, and he recommended that the Nobel Foundation should ask the Swedish consulate to formally take over the management of the Nobel Institute. By the end of the month, Jahn and his two fellow committee members wrote personal statements to the Nobel Foundation in which they declared that in the present situation, they could no longer stay on the committee, and the foundation accepted their resignations.
On 11 January, Finn Støren came to see both consul general Westring and director Moe. The consul presented his earlier arguments: Buildings and other valuables related to the Nobel Committee belonged to the Nobel Foundation and were therefore Swedish property. He asked Støren not to take any steps regarding the Norwegian Nobel Committee and institute until the consul had received further instructions from Stockholm.
The director of the Nobel Institute must have known that his meeting with Støren would be a tough challenge. The night before he wrote a personal statement which he wanted to present to Quisling's representative. In the morning he made the content of the statement* known to his staff and got their unanimous approval. Shortly after Støren had arrived in his office, Moe asked him to listen to the statement, in which he made it clear that his position as director of the Institute and secretary of the Nobel Committee rested upon the testament of Alfred Nobel, and that he was only responsible to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting and the Nobel Foundation. According to a report to Sohlman, which Moe wrote a few weeks later, the meeting between himself and Støren had been civilized, but there was no possibility of a cordial relationship: «During the conversation he (Støren) suddenly asked, more or less as a matter of fact: You do not acknowledge me, do you? I then answered firmly: No! I can't possibly do that.»13
From reports written by consul general Westring to his superiors at the Foreign Office in Stockholm and correspondence between the Nobel Institute and the Nobel Foundation, we can see that the dispute over the destiny of the Nobel Committee and institute continued until March 1944. Støren was furious after his meeting with Moe, and so was Quisling when Støren informed him about it. They wanted «to send two of their men» to the Nobel Institute to look over the archives on 12 January, but the Swedish consul general managed to make Støren postpone these measures. After having received instructions from Stockholm, Westring kept a very firm position against the representative of the NS government. Støren and Quisling actually sent a policeman to interrogate Moe and committee members Gunnar Jahn and Birger Braadland, but no further action was taken against them.
|No member of the Nobel Committee was
troubled as such during the war. However, the old committee
chairman, Fredrik Stang, was taken into custody by the police
for a few hours shortly before he died in 1941, and his
predecessor, Gunnar Jahn, war arrested in 1944 and spent the
rest of the war at Grini, a large prison camp outside Oslo.
Photo above shows some of the prisoners at Grini photographed
through the the gate of the prison camp.
Copyright © Scanpix
Did Quisling and his government finally accept that everything related to the Nobel prize was Swedish property? Was that the reason why they did not put force behind the decision of the Ministerpresident? No, it was not. The clue to the matter lies in the relationship between the NS government and the German Reichskommissariat. The NS authorities in fact possessed a report written by one Norwegian jurist who concluded that international law gave the authorities the right to expropriate the Nobel Institute. They seem to have been convinced that this was correct. The Swedish consul general, however, objected that the matter should be regarded as covered by private law. And he went on : «If it is still your intention to carry out inspections or other kinds of action against the Nobel Institute, I shall have to ask the Reichskommisariat to protect it as Swedish property.»14
The prospect of German involvement was not at all pleasant to Finn Støren, who definitely wanted to avoid any direct Swedish-German discussion over the Norwegian Nobel Institution. Even though he was not prepared to give up his efforts – Støren's correspondence with the consul general continued for weeks – the Swedes were getting the upper hand. And in the end, Westring did not even have to ask the Germans for help. It came unasked for. On March 16, 1944, the Swedish consul general met with Oberregierungsrat Dr. Faust of the Reichskommissariat on another matter, and the latter asked him for information about the Swedish position in the dispute with the Quisling government. Having heard the Swedish arguments, the German representative stated that the matter was of such minor importance that, in the midst of a war, one could not let it develop into a conflict. At this stage, with German reversals on all fronts, Sweden's diplomatic position was of course much stronger than at the time when Hitler's Reich was on the offensive. «Thus it seems that the Reichskommissariat has suppressed the fighting spirit of Quisling and Støren», Westring concluded in a letter to Stockholm.15 No doubt he was right. During the rest of the war the staff of the Nobel Institute, with no more interference from the Quislings, could concentrate on keeping up some activity and repairing minor war damages to the building.
In Stockholm, director Sohlman was concerned that the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded as soon as possible. The statutes of the Foundation stipulated that the prize must be awarded at least once in a five-year period. Counting from 1901, the running period would elapse in 1945, and Sohlman feared that members of the Nobel family would take the matter to court if the statutes were disregarded. As one of the executors of Alfred Nobel's will after 1896, the Director had been engaged in Nobel work for nearly fifty years. Juridical conflict, he wrote, «would indeed be a pitiful conclusion to my whole activity for the Nobel Foundation».16 In January 1944, while the game of the committees' fate was played in Oslo, and again in 1945, Sohlman saw to it that the Red Cross was nominated by two Swedes. But after the German capitulation in May, the initiative reverted to Norwegian politicians. On 10 December 1945, the Nobel Peace Prize for 1944 was awarded to the Red Cross, while the 1945 Prize fell to Cordell Hull, as «the Father» of the United Nations.
1. Transcript dated 27 April 1940, of a letter to Utrikesrådet Söderblom from the Swedish Envoy to Oslo, Friherre Beck-Friis, dated 23 April 1940. Archive of the Nobel Foundation, «Norske dossierer» No 1. The transcript was delivered to the director of the Nobel Foundation, Ragnar Sohlman.
3. «Ferner dass es überlegt wird, in wie fern nicht das Ziel der Nobelstiftung zweckmässiger dadurch erreicht wird, dass die ganze Stiftung als ein Glied der ideologischen Neuordning Europas, die notwendig wird, und mit der unter den vorliegenden Umständen tatsächlich gerechnet werden muss, eingeordnet wird.» Source: P.M. Betreffs des norwegischen Nobel-Komités und des Nobel-Instituts, dated November 12, 1940, handed over from the University of Oslo to the Nobel Committee in the autumn of 1945. NNI, outgoing correspondence, blue box no. 20, cover 1-57.
12. From the protocol of the Nobel Committee, it is clear that it made few controversial formal decisions during the war years. On the agenda were first of all, administrative and economic matters. However, the committee also granted money for certain purposes. In February 1940, NOK 2000 was granted to Ludwig Quidde, the German Peace Prize Laureate who had been living in exile in Switzerland since 1933. He had been granted similar amounts earlier for his work on a book about the German peace movement during World War I. The committee also gave annual grants of NOK 5,000 to Nordisk tidsskrift for international ret ("Nordic Journal of International Law"), Copenhagen.
16. Letter to Director Moe, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, dated 22 May 1945. Copy in archive of the Nobel Foundation, «Norske dossierer». In this letter, Sohlman strongly warned against any delay concerning the reappointment of the Nobel Committee and the distribution of the Peace Prize
* Nobel Institute Director Ragnvald Moe's
Statement of 11 January 1944
"My position here rests upon the testament of Nobel. Firstly, I am placed under the immediate authority of the Nobel Committee, which has been appointed by Norway’s Storting on the basis of the Storting’s recognition of Nobel’s testament. At the same time, the institute to which I belong, as well as the entire institution of the Peace Prize, is part of the Swedish Nobel Foundation, which administratively and financially is one unit, and which owns the building including its library and everything which we, the employees, utilize in our work. After the expiry, in 1942, of the mandate of those members who have remained in Norway, the board of the Nobel Foundation, which is entrusted with maintaining the activities of the Institute, has asked the members to stay on the committee, a request which the members felt obliged to accept.
This is the true basis on which my position is founded and which I consider to be my only guidance. As regards the question of your representing the Nobel Committee I can only ask you to be good enough to approach the Swedish consul general in order to have the opinion of the Nobel Foundation."
"Min stilling her hviler på Nobels testamente. Jeg hører da for det første umiddelbart under den myndighet, Nobelkomiteen, som er valgt av Norges Storting på basis av Stortingets antagelse av Nobels testamente. Samtidig er det institut som jeg tilhører, likesom den hele fredsprisinstitusjon, en del av den svenske Nobelstiftelse, som i administrativ og økonomisk henseende er en enhet og som eier bygningen med biblioteket og alt forøvrig som vi funktionærer her arbeider med. Efter at de i Norge gjenværende komitémedlemmers mandat er utløpet i 1942 har den svenske Nobelstiftelsens styre, som har til opgave å holde Stiftelsens arbeide oppe, henstillet til medlemmene å fungere videre, en opfordring som medlemmene har anset det for sin plikt at følge.
Dette er da det grunnlag for min stilling som alene kan være bestemmende for mig. Med hensyn til det spørsmål at De skal representere Nobelkomitéen kan jeg kun bede Dem være så venlig at henvende Dem til den svenske generalkonsul for at erfare Nobelstiftelsens standpunkt".
First published 21 August 2001