Einar Henry Gerhardsen (Einar Gerhardtsen.ogg (help·info); 10 May 1897 – 19 September 1987) was a Norwegian politician from the Labour Party of Norway. He was the 22nd prime minister of Norway for three periods, 1945–1951, 1955–1963 and 1963–1965. With totally 16 years in office, he is the longest serving Prime Minister in Norway since the introduction of parliamentarism. Many Norwegians often refer to him as "Landsfaderen" (Father of the Nation); he is generally considered one of the main architects of the post-war rebuilding of Norway after World War II. He also served as the second President of the Nordic Council in 1954.
|22nd Prime Minister of Norway|
25 September 1963 – 12 October 1965
|Preceded by||John Lyng|
|Succeeded by||Per Borten|
22 January 1955 – 28 August 1963
|Preceded by||Oscar Torp|
|Succeeded by||John Lyng|
25 June 1945 – 19 November 1951
|Preceded by||Johan Nygaardsvold|
|Succeeded by||Oscar Torp|
|President of the Storting|
16 January 1954 – 22 January 1955
|Prime Minister||Oscar Torp|
|Preceded by||Gustav Natvig-Pedersen|
|Succeeded by||Oscar Torp|
|Leader of the Labour Party|
28 May 1945 – 27 May 1965
|Preceded by||Oscar Torp|
|Succeeded by||Trygve Bratteli|
|President of the Nordic Council|
1 January 1954 – 31 December 1954
|Preceded by||Hans Hedtoft|
|Succeeded by||Nils Herlitz|
|Member of the Norwegian Parliament|
4 December 1945 – 30 September 1969
|Deputy||Hjalmar Larsen |
Gunnar Alf Larsen
Einar Henry Gerhardsen
10 May 1897
Asker, Akershus, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
|Died||19 September 1987 (aged 90)|
|Resting place||Vestre Gravlund|
(m. 1932; died 1970)
|Children||3, including Rune|
|Profession||Civil servant |
Einar Gerhardsen was born in the municipality of Asker, in the county of Akershus. His parents were Gerhard Olsen (1867–1949) and Emma Hansen (1872–1949). His father was rodemester in Public Roads Administration and was foreman of a trade union committee, fanekomiteen for Veivesenets arbeiderforening, and during Gerhardsen's childhood the trade union's leader Carl Jørgensen frequently visited their home, and sometimes they would sing The Internationale and Seieren følger våre faner ("victory follows our banners").
In 1932, he married Werna Julie Koren Christie (1912–1970), daughter of agent Johan Werner Koren Christie and Klara Rønning. The couple had two sons, Truls and Rune and a daughter Torgunn. His brother was Rolf Gerhardsen and the pair also had a lifelong working relationship. From the age of seventeen, Gerhardsen attended meetings with the Labour Party's youth movement. In 1918, during the Finnish Civil War, Gerhardsen resigned his membership of the Church of Norway after the church sided with the "Whites" against the "Reds".
Political work, imprisonmentEdit
Originally a road worker, Gerhardsen became politically active in the socialist labour movement during the 1920s. He was convicted several times of taking part in subversive activities until he, along with the rest of the Labour Party, gradually moved from communism to democratic socialism. He participated in the Left Communist Youth League's military strike action of 1924. He was convicted for assisting in this crime and sentenced to 75 days in prison.
By the mid-1930s, Labour was a major force on the national political scene, becoming the party of government under Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold from 1935 until the Nazi invasion in 1940. Gerhardsen was elected to Oslo city council in 1932 and became deputy mayor in 1938. He was deputy leader of the Labour Party from 1939.
After the German occupation of Norway in 1940, Gerhardsen became acting Chairman of the Labour Party, as the chairman, Oscar Torp had gone into exile. Gerhardsen became Mayor of Oslo on 15 August 1940, but was forced to resign by the Germans on 26 August the same year. In September, the Nazi occupation government banned all parliamentary political parties, including the Labour Party.
During World War II, Gerhardsen took part in the organised resistance against the German occupation of Norway, and was arrested on 11 September 1941. Having already been under suspicion for a long time, Gerhardsen had been detained and subjected to interrogations on 31 previous occasions since the summer of 1940. Initially he was sent to Grini concentration camp in Norway. In February 1942, he was accused of leading resistance work from his imprisonment, and removed from the camp for interrogation. Initially interrogated at the police station at Møllergata 19, he was soon transferred to the Gestapo headquarters at Victoria Terrasse. At Victoria Terrasse, he was tortured to reveal information on the resistance, but did not give in. In April 1942, he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany. In September 1944, he was transferred back to Grini, where he spent the rest of the war.
After the war, Gerhardsen formed the interim government which sat from the end of the occupation in May 1945 until the general election held in October the same year. The election gave Labour an absolute majority in Parliament, the Storting, which it retained until 1961. Gerhardsen served as President of the Storting from 10 January 1954 to 22 January 1955.
Domestic and foreign policy from 1945Edit
During and after his periods in office, he was greatly respected by the people; even those not sharing his social democratic views. The administrations he led forged an eclectic economic policy in which government regulation of commerce, industry and banking. Abject poverty and unemployment were sharply reduced by his government's policies of industrialisation and redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation, together with the creation of a comprehensive social security system.
The Norwegian State Housing Bank Law of March 1946 introduced relatively cheap loans for co-operative housing societies and individual private builders. The Child Allowances Law of October 1946 introduced allowances for second and subsequent children under the age of sixteen years, while also providing allowances for single-parent families for the birth of their first child. Under a July 1947 law, unemployment insurance coverage was extended to agricultural workers and certain other groups. In 1947, a loan fund for students was introduced. That same year, housing allowances were introduced for families with two or more children below the age of sixteen years, “who live in dwellings financed through Housing Bank and in municipalities which pay one-third of the allowance.” The Comprehensive Schooling Law of July 1954 established nine-year comprehensive schooling on a trial basis, while the Sickness Insurance Law of March 1956 introduced compulsory insurance for all residents. A law in January 1960 introduced an invalidity pension scheme and a law of June 1961 extended accident coverage to military personnel and conscripts. In 1957, universal basic pensions were introduced. In 1957 an orphans’ pension scheme was established, and in 1958 university occupational injury insurance was introduced. In 1957, housing allowances were made available for single-parent families with children, and that same year, and income and property means test was introduced while the Housing Allowances Law was made compulsory for all municipalities. In 1964, a national widow’s benefit was introduced.
In foreign policy, he aligned Norway with the Western powers at the end of the 1940s after some initial hesitation within the governing party, and Norway became a founding member of NATO. Documents from 1958 reveal that the Gerhardsen's government knew that Israel was going to use heavy water supplied by Noratom for plutonium production, making it possible for Israel to produce nuclear weapons.
In November 1962, an accident in which 21 miners died occurred in the Kings Bay coal mine on Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. In the aftermath, the Gerhardsen government was accused of not complying with laws enacted by parliament. In the summer of 1963 a vote of no confidence passed with the support of the Socialist People's Party and a centre-right minority coalition government was formed, under John Lyng. Although this new government lasted only three weeks, until the Socialist People's Party realigned itself with Labour, it formed the basis for an opposition victory under the leadership of Per Borten at the 1965 general election. Gerhardsen retired from national politics in 1969 but continued to influence public opinion through writing and speeches.
Gerhardsen's political legacy is still an important force in Norwegian politics, especially within his own party, although some of the social policies of his government have been revised. (See also Economy of Norway)
Soviet intelligence claimEdit
According to Vassily Mitrokhin, Gerhardsen became a Soviet intelligence operative during his visit to the USSR.
Later life and deathEdit
Gerhardsen spent the last years of his life in Oslo, where he died on 19 September 1987, at the age of 90, he was buried in the Vestre Gravlund.
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