Johansen Fredrik Hjalmar 

Norwegian polar explorer, member of the expeditions of F. Nansen and R. Amundsen on the "Frame". 
Born in Skien. He became a student in 1886, then in 1891-1892. studied at a military school. He went to the reserve in the rank of lieutenant. His desire to get on Nansen's expedition was so great that, in the absence of another free position, he agreed to go to the Fram as a fireman. On the ship, most of the time was an assistant for meteorological observations. Nansen has mapped him to his companions for a sleigh trip to the pole, because, according to Nansen, "he is an excellent skier, endurance does not know his equal, and in addition a wonderful guy." This assessment of Nansen was fully confirmed during their unprecedented campaign, which demanded from the participants the unthinkable exertion of all physical and mental strength. An isolated team of two people is the most problematic in the sense of the relationship of its members. The incompatibility of characters can negate everything, even the most remarkable physical data.Both Nansen and Johannsen left their memories of this expedition, and neither one nor the other has any hint of the existence of any friction. Of course, the main merit in this belongs to Nansen, whose authority and greatness evoked veneration from Johannsen, but Nansen's assessment of the “wonderful guy” speaks for itself. 
On November 19, 1894, Nansen asked Johansen if he would agree to go with him to the pole and after receiving unconditional consent in the presence of O. Sverdrup set out his plan for him: at the end of February or the beginning of March of the following year, leave the ship and go to the pole, and from there to Svalbard or ZFI. Nansen described the seriousness and danger of the intended enterprise. 
They started on March 14, 1895, when the Fram was at the coordinates of 83° 59'N and 102° 27'E , taking with him 28 dogs, four sledges and two kayaks. 
Unfortunately, they failed to carry out their plans. Vast zones of hummocky ice covered with deep snow made it extremely difficult and slowed down. Nansen realized that, even if they reached the pole, they would not be able to go back due to food shortages, and made a difficult, but the only correct, salutary decision: to turn back. Johansen writes: “How terribly I wanted to go on! The only consolation was that we did everything we could, and that although we slightly lifted the veil that hid this area of ​​the globe from people's eyes. Now all the space where our gaze turned, turned out to be cluttered with such ice, through which we could travel the most insignificant distance with great difficulty, had to come to terms with the necessity and turn to the south. ” Turned on April 8, reaching a record point for those times - 86° 14′N. 
In one of the most difficult and exhausting passages they forgot to start chronometers, which were carried behind the bosom, keeping it from frost and jarring. Having lost the exact time, they lost the ability to determine longitude. From this point on, the main topic of their conversations was the question: “Where are we now?”. And in early August, when they reached the land, they did not know where they went - to Franz Joseph Land or Spitsbergen. They were going to find out in the process of movement, guided by the map of Yu. Payer, which was available from Nansen. In the case of Franz Josef Land, they would like to go south and find a wintering place for B. Lee-Smith, but reason suggested that it would not be possible to do this before the onset of winter and it was necessary to build a hut and prepare supplies. Optimism did not leave them: “It would be a mistake to assume that the upcoming wintering plunged us into despair and dark thoughts ... Hope for a better future did not leave us, especially since we were convinced that we can live very well with bear meat. But patience had to stock up. 
Our whole expedition was a school of patience from beginning to end”.


Wintering place of Nansen and Johansen

(photo from

And then dragged monotonous, sad third polar night. “Concerning, however, we settled down not badly; could be worse. What was worth one calm consciousness of their security in terms of food ... Ham, shovels and whole carcasses stuck in rows in the snow around the hut. We buried in the snow and the tiny remnants of our provisions from the Fram; we did not risk touching them before we set off again, and, moreover, they might need them if one of us did not take out monotonous meat food. But she went to us all the time, as well as possible”. 
Most of the time they spent in a bag and slept for almost a whole day - an enviable sample of mental and physical health. On the last day of 1895, Nansen proposed to Johansen to switch to “you". 
May 19, the Norwegians continued their journey. Each of their crossings, each stretch of path, be it on the ice, or on a glacier, or in kayaks on clear water, was accompanied by a deadly risk. Even the death or severe injury of one of them, even the loss of weapons or ammunition meant the end. The critical moment was during one of the crossings, when kayaks with all their belongings were blown away by the wind from the edge of the ice floe, on which they landed. Nansen threw off a piece of clothing, watches, and rushed into the icy water. "All our wealth, food, dress, war projectiles, guns — all means to continue the journey and life.” Nansen swam for kayaks, which went farther and farther away. “It was not known how long he would last in icy water ... I was terribly afraid that he would have seizures, and he would sink before my eyes.From time to time he lay on his back and rested. Nansen floated farther and farther away, but the sweeps of his hands became weaker and weaker ... ”. Finally he managed to reach the kayaks and with difficulty get into one of them. When he drove them to the edge of the ice and climbed up to Johansen, “he looked terrible; pale as death, with wet hair and a beard, foaming at the mouth, he could barely speak, could hardly stand, staggered and all was shaking from the cold.


Nansen caught up with gone kayaks


On June 17, during one of the stops, Nansen heard dogs barking and went exploring. There he held his famous meeting with F. Jackson . One of the companions of Jackson J. Childe went to Johansen. “When he saw our sleigh, kayaks, our pitiful tent, the brewing apparatus filled with lard and meat, he turned his beautiful dark eyes on me, then again on things, and his face showed amazement”. Then came Bargis, Fisher, Blomkvist, Ketlitz and Armitage. Somehow through Ketlitsa they spoke German. Armitage took out a travel flask, poured a glass of port wine and offered it to Johansen. Everyone took off their hats and, looking at the flag, declared “hurray” in honor of Norway.“Never before have I realized with such force that I form a whole with my homeland”. 
The British gave the warmest welcome to the Norwegian heroes and did everything possible for them until their very departure on the ship of the Jackson expedition Windward, which arrived on July 27. 
Upon his return, Johansen participated in research on Svalbard as part of the Prince of Monaco expedition, U.S. Bruce, G. Isaksen. 
Possessing great physical strength, Johannsen was not by nature a leader. All subsequent life, a model for him, the benchmark by which he evaluated other people, was Nansen. And, oddly enough, it played a fatal role in his fate. On the recommendation, perhaps insisting, Nansen Johansen was included on the expedition of R. Amundsen on the Fram, which was planned for the Arctic, but, to the amazement of the whole world, from the middle of the road turned to Antarctica. His relationship with the head of the expedition did not develop initially. Amundsen always personally chose his companions and was dissatisfied with the interference of others, although he could not refuse Nansen. The natural desire of Amundsen, like any other head of such an expedition, was to ensure a healthy psychological climate in the team. But if Nansen achieved this by his democracy, respect for the person and his opinion, then for Amundsen the main demand was the loyalty of the subordinate to him personally and the inadmissibility of criticism of the boss. For example, Amundsen never took people with higher education, as he was afraid that they could put him in the eyes of others in an unfavorable light.Johannsen involuntarily compared Amundsen with Nansen, and the comparison was not in favor of the first. This can be judged by the lines of his diary: “Military orders reign on board, acting very annoyingly. It is necessary to change. And it will be changed. " Or another, later entry: “I often involuntarily compare this trip with the first voyage of the Fram.” Very much a big difference between them. There are too many formalities, there is no cohesion between us, camaraderie, not to mention such a high feeling as friendship ... Of course, everything will gradually get better with time ”. Johannsen did not keep his assessments secret and often expressed out loud, which led to an even more dramatic deterioration in relations. For the sake of justice, it should be noted that the negative phenomena that Johansen noted at the beginning of the expedition were largely related to the severe mental state of Amundsen. After all, he had to hide his true intentions from almost the entire team. He was afraid of the moment when it would be necessary to reveal the cards, since changing the goals of the expedition gave every participant the legal right to terminate the contract.Amundsen could be at the broken trough. After it became aware of the movement to the south and the desire to conquer the South Pole to the glory of Norway, after the expedition members enthusiastically unanimously approved this decision, the relations in the team improved dramatically. Apparently, they also improved between Amundsen and Johannsen. On the anniversary of the start of the expedition, Amundsen made a speech in which he spoke about the cohesion of the team and thanked the participants. Johansen made a toast to the health of the chief and said that it was easy for everyone to work, because he was led by such a skilful, sensitive and amiable boss. It is significant that, despite the friction, Johannsen was included in the pole game. 
Autumn was approaching, the moment of launch, Amundsen’s nervous tension was growing, caused by the expectation of fierce competition from the English group R. Scott, who was also preparing to roll south. He insisted on a speedy performance, although there was no complete readiness, and there were severe frosts. Experienced Johannsen objected to forcing events, but this only irritated the boss. At the insistence of Amundsen, they spoke on September 8, but the attempt, as predicted by Johannsen, was unsuccessful. The frosts exceeded 50° , all the compasses froze, the dogs pulled badly, their feet were bleeding, the sleighs were breaking, the harness was torn, people also could not cope with the loads. Finally, Amundsen admitted his mistake and ordered to turn north from 80 ° . On the way back, he did not wait for the lagging comrades who, out of their last strength, arrived at the base very late. Sharp and direct, Johannsen accused him of violating the duty of his superior, and this was the last straw.Amundsen removed him from the march and assigned him to an auxiliary reconnaissance group. The march to the pole took place without him, which turned out to be a heavy moral blow for Johansen. However, this was not all. Not forgetting the offense Amundsen wrote off Johansen from a vessel in Tasmania and sent it off to Norway by cargo ship. This is what this story looks like from the point of view of Amundsen. In a letter to Nansen after the words of gratitude for support, he writes: “... Unfortunately, my letter will bring you not only good news. I was forced to write off ashore Johannsen. His behavior on board from the first moment was unpleasant to everyone else. During wintering, he refused to obey for any reason, and I had to remove him from participating in the campaign to the South Pole. It only added fuel to the fire. Upon our arrival here, he got drunk, started a quarrel with his friends, making it difficult for them to work. To establish consent on board, I was forced to take extreme measures ...". Considering that Johansen will be at home earlier, and, fearing his exposition of events, Amundsen, with the help of the Norwegian Geographical Society, succeeded in removing Johannsen from all official events and banning the publication of his expedition notes. After the expedition, Amundsen was accused of unethical behavior towards Scott; the story of Johansen also did not improve his reputation. For Johannsen, this was a real life tragedy. 
Thanks to Nansen, Johannsen took part in celebrations on the occasion of the conquest of the South Pole, and never once did he allow himself unflattering remarks about Amundsen. Moreover, he spoke about him and the expedition only good. However, his spirit was broken. Friends tried to take him on an expedition to Svalbard, but in vain.He burned his life and died on January 3, 1913, far from his relatives and friends. The great Nansen spoke of his friend with the following words: “I loved him very much.There is no end to my sorrow”.


Johannes Cemetery


He was buried at Johannes Cemetery in Skien, Telemark Norway.

Cape in the west of the island Georg Land Archipelago Franz-Josef Land. Opened and named in 1897 by the expedition of F. Jackson.

Cape on the island of Nansen archipelago of Nordenskiöld. Named Russian Polar Expedition in 1900-1901.

Mountain in the central part of. Prince Karl Vorland. The coordinates are 78° 28.0'N   11° 25.5'E.

A glacier emerging from the Negri Glacier, in the extreme northeast of Sabina Land. The coordinates are 78° 33'N   18° 30'E.



Return to the main page