Free Man

De Figueiredo, Ivo: Fri mann. Johan Bernhard hjort - en dannelseshistorie Winner of the 2002 Brage Prize for Non-Fiction

Full title: Free Man. Johan Bernhard Hjort - an Educational Tale

A fascist and an anti-Semite in the 30s; first collaborator, then resistance fighter during World War II. After the war – an advocate for legal protection and the division of power, a defender of homosexuals, and spokesman for the individual’s right to free self-expression, free choice of language and freedom from authoritarian encroachments. Supreme Court lawyer Johan B. Hjort’s (1895-1969) multidimensional life makes him a peculiar entity in modern Norwegian history. A right-wing activist in the 1930s, he was – together with Quisling – the prime mover in the nationalist party Nasjonal Samling until he pulled out in 1937. After the German invasion of Norway in 1940 he played a central part in the opposition against Quisling’s politics, while at the same time seeking cooperation with the occupying power. In 1941 he was arrested and sent to a German internment camp, where he put all his efforts into registering Norwegian prisoners in the concentration camps. After the war, he affirmed himself as one of the country’s top barristers, and also got involved in cultural politics.

The paradoxes of Hjort’s life are many and striking. He was one of those who had the greatest difficulties adjusting at first, but who, once the war had ended, became one of the most passionate advocates of democracy and the liberal constitutional state. But every life is a prism of its time, and Hjort’s history reflects the creation of a modern, democratic Norway in a most remarkable way.

“I believe it has been many years since a historian has written such an engaged biography. Warmly recommended”
(Aftenposten)

“thoroughly well-written and utterly well-documented”
(Dagbladet)

First published: 2002, Aschehoug Non-Fiction
Ivo de Figueiredo: Biography and bibliography

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