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Biography

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Overview (4)

Born in Asker, Norway
Died in Oslo, Norway  (natural causes)
Birth NameEinar Henry Gerhardsen
Nickname Landsfaderen

Mini Bio (1)

Einar Henry Gerhardsen was born in Asker, outside Oslo, Norway in 1897. Allready at age 10 he started working as a busboy, a job he kept for 8 years. From 1915 to 1922 he was an employee of Oslo Veivesen (Oslo Road). In 1919 he became leader of the Veivesen's workers union. This was to be the start of a rising career in union politics that in 1923 would lead to the position of political secretary in the Norwegian Labour Party, and from 1926 to 1936 in Oslo's Labour Party. He became vice chairman of the Party in 1939, and following world war 2 he was chairman and leader of the Norwegian Labour Party from 1945 to 1965. From 1932 Gerhardsen was also a member of the city council of Oslo, Norway's capital. He was deputy mayor from 1938 to 1940, and functioning mayor of the city for a few hours on april 9th 1940, just before Adolf Hitler's troops invaded Norway and sieged power. The German occupants refused to accept Gerhardsen as mayor of Oslo and he fled the city together with the government, for exile in neighbouring Sweden. In June 1940, Gerhardsen decided to return to Norway to safeguard the interests of the Norwegian labour unions. Realizing he would most certainly be arrested if returning to Norway he still left his safe-haven in Sweden and came back to Oslo. In Norway he subsequently became an active opposition worker against the Germans. In September 1941 Gerhardsen was arrested by the Nazi government and sent off to the concentration camp Sachsenhausen in Germany. Gerhardsen himself later wrote: "The prisoners died of hunger, cold, hard labour, the lack of sleep and of mistreatment. Blokkeldste reported the deaths before we entered the barracks at night. We took of our hats and stood there, in rags, filthy, hungry, frozen stiff, and remembered our dead comrades."

After three grueling years in Sachsenhausen he was shipped back and placed in the large prison camp of Grini, just outside Oslo. A historian later ment this happened as a gesture from a Gestapo officer, after an influential Norwegian pulled some strings. One of Gerhardsen's sons, Truls, 50 years later said his father said this happened because the Germans wanted a prominent POW in Norway, in case the German troops in the country needed bargaining chips to get away, should Hitler loose the war. Gerhardsen stayed imprisoned at Grini for a year, until the liberation of Norway on May 8th 1945.

When the first government of liberated Norway was to be put together the job offer went to Paal Berg, leader of the Norwegian Homefront during the war. He finally gave up trying and the offer was then given to Einar Gerhardsen, who had just been elected the new chairman of the Norwegian Labour Party. On June 25th, Gerhardsen, then largely unknown in the general public, created a coalition government with himself as prime-minister. After the first elections that autumn Gerhardsen put together his second government, this time a pure Labour Party cabinet. In the elections of 1949 the Labour Party won a landslide victory and got more than half of the seats in the Norwegian parliament (Stortinget) creating an even firmer basis for Gerhardsen's government.

On November 10th 1951, Gerhardsen resigned from the post of prime-minister and gave it to fellow party member Oscar Torp. Gerhardsen then took over Torp's position as the Labour Party's groupleader in parliament. In 1954, Gerhardsen was elected the new President of Parliament (Stortingspresident), all though a position of very little real power (compared to the post of prime-minister) the position is still regarded as the second highest chain of command in Norway, behind his Majesty the King. On January 22th 1955, Gerhardsen returned to the post of prime-minister, forming his third cabinet (Oscar Torp took over the role of President of Parliament). The third Gerhardsen government helped concrete the Labour Party as the most important political party in Norwegian history, for many years outnumbering all the other parties combined in parliament. This Gerhardsen government sat for 8 years, until the 28th of August when they fell because of the Kings Bay case (regarding a report revealing poor safety at a mining complex on Spitsbergen, where 21 miners died in a 1962-explosion). The darkest chapter in the saga of the much loved politician. September 20th the same year Gerhardsen again was set to form a new government, his fourth. This, his last cabinet, steered the country for two years until the opposing coalition parties got the majority of parliament in the 1965 elections. October 12th 1965 was Einar Gerhardsen's last day as prime-minister of Norway. He returned to parliament where he was elected in 1945, and held his post until 1969, when he retired from active politics.

A few years later he became a widower when his wife through several years, Werna, suddenly passed away. At the time of his death in 1987, Einar Gerhardsen was considered the greatest and most influential statesman in modern Norwegian history. For many Norwegians he was just known as 'Landsfaderen'("the nation's father"). An impressive feat for someone who in the 1920s seemed more like a revolutionary punk, receiving several sentences for his political acts. He followed the Labour Party's transformation to reformism in the 1930s, was imensely colored by the feeling of brother - and sisterhood between patriotic Norwegians during the German occupation, and came out as a man of cooperation in the plight of rebuilding Norway after World War II. For 17 years he was the head of government, for 20 years his party's chairman, and at the same time received a huge amount of trust and respect from his opposing colleagues. He will probably always remain the symbol of the first 20 years of the Norwegian post-war era, a period of prosperity, relatively good political harmony, NATO-membership and a strong growing connection with the rest of the world, most importantly the United States. One of his sons, Rune Gerhardsen, later followed in his footsteps and become a prominent politician in the same party.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Geir J. Olsen

Spouse (1)

Werna Gerhardsen (? - ?) ( her death)

Trivia (2)

Prime-minister in Norway for a total of 17 years (Norwegian record). From 1945 to 1951, 1955 to August 28th 1963, and from September 20th 1963 to October 12th 1965.
A member of the Norwegian Labour Party.

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