NANSEN, Fridtjof. Exercise 1934. Rapport annual illustré de 'Office International "Nansen" por les Refugies. Représentations en Syrie & au Liban. Beyrouth [cover title in blue crayon]. Oblong large 4to. Flexible slate board wrappers, cord-bound; 22 flexible boards with just over 100 tipped in photographs, carbon-copied descriptive text tipped in, edges of wrappers a little frayed, about four photos with folds, otherwise in very good condition, with no photos removed, a few text leaves with folds.
An extremely rare documentation of the humanitarian aid carried out by the international organization set up by the polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen. 'The Nansen Office was set up in 1930 in accordance with a League of Nations resolution to keep up the relief work that had been launched by Fridtjof Nansen, the first high commissioner for refugees. Early in the 1930s, the Office was busy in helping Armenians who had been driven out of Turkey, and it was an important driving force behind the drawing up of the League of Nations Refugee Convention. Later in the 1930s, the organization cared mainly for refugees located in Central and South-eastern Europe, France, Syria and China. The Office ran refugee camps, issued passports to the stateless (Nansen passports), and helped to provide visas, jobs, medicine and food. The Nansen Office was closed in 1938, but its activities have been carried on by a new Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees which has its seat in London' (nobelprize.org, online).
The album opens with the description and photos of the settlements for c. 40,000 Armenians in and near Aleppo, Beirut, Alexandrette (Iskenderun, then part of the French mandate), and Damascus. Other recipients of aid were Assyrians. Nansen himself had been instrumental in kick-starting the humanitarian campaign in 1926. He died four yars later in Oslo and did not see the full impact of the refugee aid in the Levant. The text and photos give very detailed information about the number of settlers, their dwellings, animals, occupation in various villages and in the suburbs, such as Nor Adana, now part of Beirut. The first eleven boards with descriptive text and photos are devoted to Beirut alone, followed by housing projects for refugees in Aleppo, and Iskenederun. One village, named Soouk-Sou is located on an ancient tell, and probably more inland in Syria. There is another unidentified settlement occupying a tell.