Johan Nygaardsvold
Johan Nygaardsvold 1934.jpeg
Nygaardsvold in 1934.
21st Prime Minister of Norway
In office
20 March 1935 – 25 June 1945
MonarchHaakon VII
Preceded byJohan Ludwig Mowinckel
Succeeded byEinar Gerhardsen
President of the Storting
In office
11 January 1934 – 20 March 1935
Prime MinisterJohan Ludwig Mowinckel
Vice PresidentC. J. Hambro
Preceded byC.J. Hambro
Succeeded byC. J. Hambro
Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party
In office
5 March 1932 – 20 March 1935
LeaderOscar Torp
Preceded byAlfred Madsen
Succeeded bySverre Støstad
Minister of Labour
In office
20 March 1935 – 2 October 1939
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byOle Monsen Mjelde
Succeeded byOlav Hindahl
Minister of Agriculture
In office
28 January 1928 – 15 February 1928
Prime MinisterChristopher Hornsrud
Preceded byOle Bærøe
Succeeded byHans Jørgensen Aarstad
Member of the Norwegian Parliament
In office
1 January 1916 – 31 December 1949
ConstituencySør-Trøndelag
Personal details
Born(1879-09-06)6 September 1879
Hommelvik, Sør-Trøndelag, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
Died13 March 1952(1952-03-13) (aged 72)
Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Albine Regine Brandslet (1878–1961)

Johan Nygaardsvold (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈnỳːɡoːʂvɔɫ]; 6 September 1879 – 13 March 1952) was a Norwegian politician from the Labour Party who served as the 21st prime minister of Norway from 1935 to 1945. From June 1940 until May 1945, he oversaw the Norwegian Government-in-exile from London as head of the Nygaardsvold cabinet during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany.[1][2]

Background

Nygaardsvold was born in Hommelvik, the main centre of the municipality of Malvik in the county of Sør-Trøndelag, Norway. His parents were Anders Nygaardsvold (1839–1897) and Andrea Ratvold (1845–1929). His father was a tenant farmer and a founding member of the first labour union in the area. Johan took his first job as a lumber mill worker when he was 12 years old. On 6 June 1901, he married Albine Regine Brandslet (1878–1961).

Nygaardsvold and his wife emigrated to Canada in 1902 where he took jobs in British Columbia, and in the US in Kalispell, Montana and Spokane, Washington. He and his wife returned to Norway in 1907 after he had followed a career including as an Industrial Workers of the World agitator. In 1909 he found a job at Hommelvik Sawmill.[3]

Political career

Main article: Cabinet Nygaardsvold

Nygaardsvold campaign poster
Nygaardsvold campaign poster

In 1910, Nygaardsvold was elected to the board of education for the Labour Party, and rose quickly through the ranks in local politics. In 1916, he was elected to the Norwegian parliament for the first time, serving continuously until 1949. He worked as a labourer in the Swedish lumber industry during the summers in the first few years. From 1920 to 1922 he served as the mayor for his home town of Malvik.[1]

In 1928, Nygaardsvold was appointed minister of agriculture in the short-lived Christopher Hornsrud cabinet. From 11 January 1934 to 20 March 1935 he served as President of the Storting. In 1935, Nygaardsvold was asked to form a government as Prime Minister of Norway. He was serving as Prime Minister when Nazi Germany attacked on Norway 9 April 1940. Following the German occupation of Norway, German officials demanded that the Government headed by Nygaardsvold capitulate and that the King appoint a government headed by Nazi sympathiser Vidkun Quisling. King Haakon VII stated that he could not comply with the German ultimatum and would rather abdicate than appoint Quisling prime minister. On 7 June 1940, the Norwegian Government-in-exile relocated to London. Nygaardsvold continued as prime minister in exile until the government returned to Norway on 31 May 1945. He resigned on 25 June 1945 when King Haakon appointed Einar Gerhardsen to head an interim government composed of all political parties.[4] [5]

A number of progressive reforms were instituted during Nygaardsvold's time as prime minister. The Old Age Insurance Law of July 1936, for instance, introduced national pension insurance, while the Unemployment Insurance Law of June 1938 introduced compulsory unemployment insurance for all employees and workers outside the primary sector “who were compulsorily insured under the sickness insurance scheme; means-tested benefits; those with incomes above or below certain levels not entitled to benefits.”[6] A Workers' Protection Act, which was issued on the 19th June 1936 and came into operation on the 1st of January 1937, “provides for an 8-hour day and 48-hour week in industry and mines.” It also contained provisions “relating to the weekly rest and public holidays. It provides that work shall cease at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and the eves of public holidays and at 3 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Easter Eve, and the Saturday before Whit Sunday; work may not be resumed until 10 p.m. on the following Sunday or public holiday. Exceptions are allowed, for instance, for maintenance, repair, heating, etc., work, watchkeeping and supervision, shops, transport undertakings, postal, telegraph and telephone services, hospitals and similar establishments.” The same Act also provided for “periodical medical examinations in unhealthy industries and occupations,” and “increased the statutory leave before confinement from four to six weeks, and maintained the leave of six weeks after confinement. This leave may be extended for a further period of six weeks in the case of sickness consequent upon pregnancy or maternity.” The Act also forbids “the dismissal of the workers during this statutory leave and provides for assistance from public funds in cases of need; such assistance is not considered as poor relief.” The same Act “raises the age for admission to employment in industry, commerce, offices, and land transport from 14 to 15 years.” The Act also contained “provisions concerning labour inspection.” An Order of the 5th of December 1935 “defines the kinds of electrical apparatus that are liable to inspection,” while an Act of the 7th of May 1936 “contains instructions concerning the inspection of electrical equipment.” An Act of 10 July 1936 made sickness insurance compulsory for the crews of foreign-going vessels, while an Act of the 16th of July 1936 “instituted a general scheme of noncontributory old-age pensions immediately applicable to Norwegian citizens over 70 years of age who fulfil the requirements of the Act. The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Social Affairs, local administration being assigned to the old-age pension committees established in each commune. Pending the introduction of general invalidity insurance legislation, the Storting passed a provisional Act granting non-contributory pensions to the blind and to certain categories of crippled persons. Pensions are payable to the blind from the age of 19and to crippled persons from the age of 18, if the economic position of the claimant appears to justify the grant.” Chapter VI of the Workers' Protection Act of the 19th of June 1936 “contains provisions on the payment of wages. Wages fixed per hour, day or week are normally to be paid weekly. Salaries fixed monthly or yearly are to be paid twice monthly.” The Workers' Protection Act of the 19th of June 1936 “regulates dismissal from three points of view; it fixes periods of notice for all workers coming within the scope of the Act; it contains special measures for workers over a certain age whose length of service exceeds a fixed minimum limit; and it provides for a dismissal allowance.” Under the same Act “workshop rules of employment are compulsory in every industrial or commercial establishment employing more than 10 workers or in any case in which the labour inspector deems it necessary whatever the number of workers. The Ministry of Social Affairs is also authorised to prescribe the introduction of rules of employment in other undertakings.”[7]

An Act of the 18th of June 1938 “empowers the Government to issue regulations dealing with the length of working hours and with medical inspection of workers exposed to X-rays, radium and the radio-active substances. In addition, under an Order of the 18th of November 1938, “the enforcement of the Workers' Protection Act on the State railways has been brought within the competence of the ordinary labour inspectorate.” An Act of the 8th of April 1938 provides that “any company or private undertaking with a share capital or net assets amounting to 100,000 crowns must make appropriations to a Labour Fund. Certain types of undertakings, particularly in agriculture, forestry and fishing, are however exempt from this obligation. Contributions are compulsory only when the net profits of the undertaking exceed a certain percentage of its invested capital; the rate varies with the financial results of each business year. The moneys of the Labour Fund are to be used for payment of old-age and invalidity pensions or for relief of unemployment due to the suspension, transformation or restriction of the work of the undertaking.”[8] Detailed regulations concerning all kinds of electrical installations were issued on the 29th of December 1939, while regulations concerning cinemas and films were promulgated on the 20th of February 1939. Instructions issued on the 31st of March 1938 for officials of the State Labour Inspectorate prescribed “in considerable detail the duties and powers of the Chief Labour Inspector, the general and special Labour Inspectors, the Assistant Labour Inspectors and the Labour Boards with respect to the enforcement of the Workers' Protection Act. The instructions specify that the inspector is to be impartial and is to try to convince both employers and workers of the value of the provisions of the Act. He is to act as an adviser to both parties in all matters connected with the Act.” An Act of the 10th of March and a decree of 24th March 1939 “regulate inspection on board ship.” An Act of the 20th of May 1939 amended the compulsory sickness insurance scheme “by permitting sickness funds which do not enter into a contract with doctors to pay directly to the practitioners the amounts due for medical treatment given to insured persons. This new rule dispenses the insured persons from the need for advancing the doctors' fees and enables the funds to exercise more effective supervision than in the past over the treatment given by the doctors.” Also, in “the event of an accident due to the war and involving permanent incapacity or death seamen are now entitled to pensions and allowances in accordance with the provisions laid down by the Act of 12 March 1937 and the Royal Order of 21 May 1937. This means that the maximum rates of wages taken as a basis for calculating pensions and allowances are doubled. In addition, any seaman who is totally incapacitated as a result of a war injury receives a lump sum of 10,000 Kr. In the event of death his dependants (widow and children under 15 years) receive, in addition to their pensions, a lump sum of the same amount as for permanent incapacity.” Under a Royal Order of the 22nd of December 1939 issued in pursuance of a decision of the Storting of the 15th of September 1939 the State “makes itself responsible for the risks of persons engaged in sea fishing, including seal hunting and also, to some extent, whaling. In case of an accident due to an act of war the protection resulting from this provision is similar to that granted to seamen. If the ship is lost the fishermen concerned also receive allowances at specified rates for the resulting unemployment and for the loss of their belongings.” A State Holiday Council (Statens Ferierad) was set up, and an Act of the 15th of February 1918 “was amended by an Act of 20 May 1939 to secure better supervision of home work. The Act provides for this purpose that the records kept by employers or sub-contractors must henceforward contain, as well as the workers' names and addresses, information on the nature of the work performed and the minimum wages paid. The powers of the labour inspectorate in particular have also been increased as regards home work.”[9]

Nygaardsvold was elected to the Storting for the last time in the autumn of 1945. At the end of the Storting term in 1949, he retired from politics. That same year, he was awarded the Medal for Outstanding Civic Service (Borgerdådsmedaljen). He returned to Hommelvik and died of cancer in Trondheim in 1952. He was buried at Hommelvik Church in Malvik.[10] [11]

Historical legacy

During his time in office, Nygaardsvold had immense popular appeal and was given credit for the Labour Party's election results in 1933. Nygaardsvold was the prime minister in the second Labour Party cabinet in Norway, after he helped formulate the so-called "crisis accord" with the Farmers' Party. His government's domestic policy was largely dedicated to recovering from the Great Depression but is most noted for its foreign and military policy in the years leading up to the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany and his administration in exile from 1940 to 1945. The investigative commission that issued a report after the liberation of Norway found that he could not be absolved from responsibility for the lack of operational readiness for the German invasion but gave him credit for his management of a unity government in exile. He was awarded an honorary salary for his service in exile but refused to accept it.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c Harald Berntsen. "Johan Nygaardsvold". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "World War II". Det Norske Kongehus. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Knut Dørum. "Johan Nygaardsvold". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  4. ^ Harald Kjølås. "Johan Nygaardsvold". Allkunne. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "Norwegian Government-in-exile". London Remembers. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Growth to limits: the Western European welfare states since World War 2: Volume 4 by Peter Flora
  7. ^ THE I.L.O YEAR-BOOK 1936-37
  8. ^ THE I.L.O YEAR-BOOK 1938-39
  9. ^ THE I.L.O YEAR-BOOK 1939-40
  10. ^ "Johan Nygaardsvold, Statsminister 1935-1945". Regjeringen. 27 December 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  11. ^ "Medaljen for borgerdåd". Det Norske Kongehus. Retrieved April 1, 2018.

Other sources

Related reading

Political offices Preceded byJohan Ludwig Mowinckel Prime Minister of Norway 1935–1945 Succeeded byEinar Gerhardsen