Knut Hamsun, a Norwegian writer famous for writing Hunger and awarded the Nobel literature prize in the 1920s, sent Goebbels, Hitler's minister for Propaganda, his Nobel medal in 1943 as a gift, wrote a week after Hitler died:

He was a warrior, a warrior for mankind, and a prophet for the gospel of justice for all nations.

What did Knut Hamsun by this and was he aware of the holocaust when he wrote it? And did he write this because of it, or despite it, or from ignorance of it?

  • 1
    Are you aware of the national situation in Norway during WW2?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 17:21
  • Wikipedia has a section (with citations) which goes some way towards answering your question.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 17:22
  • @Rand al’Thor: No, not particularly. But I have just found out that Norway was occupied by Germany during the war and that makes his comments even more surprising. The article by Wikipedia doesn’t help much. Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


It depends who do you ask, but it seems simply that he was a Nazi sympathiser

While the official "Hamsun Online" site states that he wasn't a Nazi because his works don't express Nazi ideology (at the same time, I've found a neo-nazi site, that was saying something exactly opposite, but I don't feel comfortable providing links to it) and because "he had an argument with Hitler"*, you can't ignore the fact, that he gave his Nobel prize to Goebbels, he supported Germany in invasion of Soviet Union and war with Great Britain (he was a serious anglophobe) and (arguably) the occupation of Norway.

Yet indeed, he was acquitted after the war: he was found too old and too senile to be convicted and he pleaded ignorance regarding the Nazi war crimes.


* In this meeting, Hamsun was trying to convince Hitler to strengthen the power of head of the puppet government Vidkun Quisling, while Hitler was trying to use Hamsun to raise the morale of German elites. Indeed the meeting ended with furious Hitler and Hamsun in tears.

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