John Sanness

Last updated

John Christian Munthe Sanness (24 May 1913 – 6 November 1984) was a Norwegian historian and politician for the Labour Party. He is known as the director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs from 1960 to 1983, professor at the University of Oslo from 1966 to 1983 and chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee from 1979 to 1981.


Early career

He was born in Leipzig as a son of Stian Sanness (1880–1966) and Hanne Theodora Munthe (1882–1954). The family moved to Kristiania seven years later, and Sanness attended Kristiania Cathedral School. He joined the revolutionary group Mot Dag during this period, and was expelled from his school for protests against the 25-year anniversary of the monarchy in 1930. [1] He later declined an offer to be reentered, and finished his secondary education as a private candidate. [1] In 1940 he chaired the Norwegian Students' Society. [2]

In April 1940, Norway was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany. Sanness learned from a Norwegian official in the government that he was on a list of people who would be arrested by the Gestapo, so he escaped to neutral Sweden. He travelled to London in 1941. Here he worked as a secretary for Arne Ording. Both Sanness and Ording had been Mot Dag members, but were now more mainstream Labour Party members. In addition to working for Ording, Sanness was involved in BBC broadcasts to occupied Norway, [1] and he was a commentator in the illegal press. [3]

Post-war career

He worked as the foreign affairs editor in the newspaper Arbeiderbladet from 1946 to 1950. [2] He also taught at the University of Oslo, and took his doctorate in 1959 with the thesis Patrioter, intelligens og skandinaver. Norske reaksjoner på skandinavismen før 1848, a work on Scandinavism. [1] He was the director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) from 1960 to 1983, and a professor of history at the University of Oslo from 1966 to 1983. [2]

Notable releases include Verden blir én 1850–1914, volume five of Aschehougs verdenshistorie released in 1955. He also published studies on the Soviet Union (Sovjetsamveldet under Khrustsjov, Bergen 1960; Some Problems in the Study of Soviet Foreign Policy, 1978), Norwegian foreign policy (Norsk alliansefri politikk?, 1978) and historiography (Norske historikere og den kalde krigen, 1984). He edited the encyclopedia Tidens leksikon, released in 1975–1976, together with Einar Gerhardsen and Odd Højdahl. He also edited the periodical Samtiden from 1964 to 1967. [1]

He sat on the Norwegian Nobel Committee from 1970 to 1981 and was chair from 1979 to 1981. [2] Some of the Nobel Peace Prizes awarded during his time in the committee were controversial, especially the 1973 award to Lê Đức Thọ and Henry Kissinger, [1] which caused two committee members to resign. [4]

Sanness was fluent many foreign languages, including German, Russian, French and Spanish. He also spoke some Finnish. Since 1939 he was married to Dagny, née Goa. His wife outlived him as he died in November 1984 in Oslo. [1]

Related Research Articles

Kaare Fostervoll was a Norwegian educator and politician for the Labour Party. From 1949 to 1962 he was the director-general of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edvard Hambro</span> Norwegian politician

Edvard Isak Hambro was a Norwegian legal scholar, diplomat and politician for the Conservative Party. He was the 25th President of the United Nations General Assembly (1970–1971).

Erling Falk was a Norwegian politician, ideologist and writer. He was active in the Norwegian Students' Society, the Norwegian Labour Party and the Communist Party, but is best known as a leading figure in the group Mot Dag, who issued a periodical of the same name. He also translated Das Kapital.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Olav Dalgard</span>

Olav Dalgard was a Norwegian literary and art historian, filmmaker, author and educator.

Stein Mehren was a Norwegian poet, essayist and playwright. He made his literary debut as poet with Gjennom stillheten en natt (1960). He wrote more than fifty books, mainly poetry.

Jens Mogens Boyesen was a Norwegian diplomat and politician for the Labour Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hans Fredrik Dahl</span> Norwegian historian and journalist

Hans Fredrik Dahl is a Norwegian historian, journalist and media scholar, best known in the English-speaking world for his biography of Vidkun Quisling, a Nazi collaborationist and Minister President for Norway during the Second World War. His research is focused on media history, the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, and the Second World War. He served as culture editor of Dagbladet 1978–1985 and has been a board member of the paper since 1996. He was a professor at the University of Oslo 1988–2009, and is now a professor emeritus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Torolf Elster</span> Norwegian journalist (1911–2006)

Torolf Elster was a Norwegian newspaper and radio journalist, magazine editor, novelist, crime fiction writer and writer of short stories. He was Director-General of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) from 1972 to 1981.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edvard Bull Sr.</span> Norwegian historian and politician

Edvard Bull was a Norwegian historian and politician for the Labour Party. He took the doctorate in 1912 and became a professor at the University of Kristiania in 1917, and is known for writings on a broad range of subjects. In addition to his academic work, he is known for his work on Norsk biografisk leksikon. His Marxist leanings inspired him to take up a parallel political career, in the Labour Party. Situated on the radical wing in the 1910s, he was among the architects as the Labour Party denounced the Twenty-one Conditions in 1923 and reunited with the social democrats in 1927. He was the deputy party leader from 1923 to 1932, and served as Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs in Hornsrud's short-lived cabinet in 1928.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerhard Munthe</span> Norwegian painter and illustrator (1849–1929)

Gerhard Peter Frantz Munthe was a Norwegian painter and illustrator.

Hartvig Andreas Munthe was a Norwegian military officer, engineer and genealogist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johan Schreiner</span> Norwegian historian

Johan Christian Schreiner was a Norwegian historian. He was a professor at the University of Oslo, and his speciality was the Middle Ages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Karl Evang</span> Norwegian physician and civil servant

Karl Evang was a Norwegian physician and civil servant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bokken Lasson</span> Norwegian singer

Caroline "Bokken" Lasson was a Norwegian concert and cabaret singer. She is known for starting the Oslo cabaret Chat Noir in 1912, and also for introducing the children's song "Tuppen og Lillemor" to the Norwegian public.

Arne Ording was a Norwegian historian and politician for Mot Dag and the Labour Party.

Aake Anker Ording was a Norwegian civil servant and politician for Mot Dag and the Labour Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trygve Bull</span> Norwegian lecturer and politician

Trygve Friis Bull was a Norwegian lecturer and politician. He was a member of Mot Dag in the 1920s and 1930s, and contributed to the magazines Mot Dag, Clarté and Kontakt. During World War II he was imprisoned by the Germans, and incarcerated at the Grini and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He was a politician for the Labour Party, a deputy representative to the Storting from 1957 to 1969, and later a politician for the Socialist Left Party. He was a member of the committee Norsk Språknemnd from its establishment in 1952 until 1972, and Norsk språkråd from 1972 to 1981.

Preben Hempel Munthe was a Norwegian economist.

Johan Herman Vogt was a Norwegian social economist, author and journal editor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bernt Heiberg</span> Norwegian architect

Johan Bernt Krohg Heiberg was a Norwegian architect.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Fonn, Birgitte Kjos. "John Sanness". In Helle, Knut (ed.). Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Henriksen, Petter, ed. (2007). "John Christian Munthe Sanness". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  3. Dahl, Hans Fredrik (1978). "Dette er London". NRK i krig 1940–1945 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. p. 251. ISBN   82-02-03929-0.
  4. Tønnesson, Øyvind (29 June 2000). "Controversies and Criticisms". Retrieved 27 February 2010.
Cultural offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Succeeded by