Halvdan Koht, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Date of Death


Halvdan Koht

Norwegian historian and politician

Date of Birth: 07-Jul-1873

Place of Birth: Tromsø municipality, Northern Norway, Norway

Date of Death: 12-Dec-1965

Profession: politician, historian, biographer, university teacher, literary critic, literary historian

Nationality: Norway

Zodiac Sign: Cancer

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About Halvdan Koht

  • Halvdan Koht (7 July 1873 – 12 December 1965) was a Norwegian historian and politician representing the Labour Party. Born in the north of Norway to a fairly distinguished family, he soon became interested in politics and history.
  • Starting his political career in the Liberal Party, he switched to the Labour Party around the turn of the 20th century.
  • He represented that party in the Bærum municipal council for parts of the interwar period.
  • He was never elected a member of Parliament, but served nonetheless as Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1935 to 1941, as part of the government-in-exile following Germany's invasion of Norway.
  • In the latter capacity he sought to preserve Norway's neutrality in the Second World War, an action that garnered him political infamy.
  • Growing discontentment with Koht's political decisions ultimately led to his exit from the cabinet.
  • After the war, however, he returned to an academic career track and wrote major works in the 1950s and 1960s. As an academic he was a professor of history at the Royal Frederick University (now the University of Oslo) from 1910 to 1935, having become a research fellow in 1900 and docent in 1908.
  • Among many honors, he held an honorary degree at the University of Oxford.
  • He was a prolific writer, and touched on numerous subjects during his long academic career.
  • He wrote several biographies; his works on Johan Sverdrup and Henrik Ibsen spanned several volumes each.
  • He became known for syntheses on Norwegian history, and emphasised the roles of peasants and wage labourers as historical agents who found their place in an expanding notion of the Norwegian nation.
  • He was also interested in the United States and its history, and was a pioneer in Norway in this respect. Koht's views on the Norwegian language also garnered him nationwide academic recognition.
  • He championed the Samnorsk language reform, the declared aim of which was to consolidate the two standards of written Norwegian.
  • A reform pushing the formal written language in this direction was indeed implemented in 1938, but historical events led to the failure of this policy.
  • A pertinacious and unyielding advocate of international peace, Koht was a founding member of the Norwegian Peace Association and an ordinary member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
  • As an activist and politician he was described as a strong-willed and individualistic, and nurturing a strong belief in taking an academic and legal perspective on political problems.

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