The Little-Known Passport That Protected 450,000 Refugees

The current refugee crisis is the largest the world has ever seen—but it’s far from unprecedented. Back in the 1920s, civil war in Russia and genocide in the Ottoman Empire left millions of families stateless, seeking asylum in countries already stretched thin by the ravages of war. Charged with preventing catastrophe, an idealistic explorer named Fridtjof Nansen changed hundreds of thousands of lives with a piece of paper: the Nansen Passport.

Key Takeaways:

  • On January 27, President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order that, among other provisions, barred all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days (and banned Syrian refugees indefinitely).
  • The current refugee crisis is the largest the world has ever seen—but it’s far from unprecedented.
  • A zoologist by training, he made a name for himself as a polar explorer—in 1888, he led the first team to cross Greenland by foot, and four years later, he traversed the Arctic Ocean by purposefully freezing his ship into an ice floe.

“The current refugee crisis is the largest the world has ever seen—but it’s far from unprecedented.”

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/nansen-passport-refugees