Basso   Johannes Gerkens

(23.04.1878 - 30.07.1962)

Norwegian lawyer and civil servant, the first governor of Svalbard, who took office in October 1925. Later he was governor of Troms and Vestfold counties.

Born in the town of Röde, he graduated from the university with a degree in law in 1901. He had a minor legal practice in Stavanger, Ålesund, Tromsø, Gövik, before being hired as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Shipping and Industry in 1905. In 1913 this ministry was restructured, and Basso went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Assistant Secretary in 1914, but left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1916, when the Ministry of Commerce was restored.  

On September 4, 1925, after Svalbard came under the jurisdiction of Norway, Basso was appointed the first permanent governor of Norway in Svalbard and held this position until 1933. When he arrived at Svalbard in October 1925, the Norwegian archipelago administration was barely developed. The governor was not given even his own office building, as well as a private house. He spent the winter on the radio station of Barentsburg. Svalbard's Marine Superintendent, Hans Mercoll, spent the winter in mainland Norway, leaving only Bassø as official representative. Most of the local infrastructure was provided by the mining company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani.

Basso was also the governor of Tromsø County from 1928 to 1938 and the governor of Vestfold county since 1938. During the German occupation of Norway, which lasted from 1940 to 1945, Basso was ultimately declared unacceptable by the Nazi authorities. He was replaced by Halvor P. Hektoyen in 1942, and two years later Christopher A. Lange took part. After the liberation of Norway on May 8, 1945, Basso was restored. He retired in 1948.

Died and buried in Oslo.

The two-headed mountain is 1074 m and 946 m. The coordinates are 77° 42.0'N  16° 04.0'E.


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