Life: April 20, 1919 – October 14, 2009
Why you should know him: Hans Christen Mamen was a Norwegian pastor, politician, and member of his country's resistance against the Nazis during World War II, saving many Jews while putting his own life at risk.
Born in 1919, Mamen grew up on a farm in Asker, Norway. It was from his family's farm that he would help many Jews escape the Nazis. The Mamen family gave food to many Jews who were in hiding, and hid many more on their farm.
Hans ventured on many dangerous missions to escort these Jews to the safety of Sweden, guiding groups through the woods and across the border. In one case, while leading the Bermann family to freedom, he carried their three-year-old son Ivar on his shoulders as they crossed into Sweden.
Hans was also a courier for the Norwegian resistance, as well as a pilot who also flew many Jews to safety. Because of the Mamen family's selfless actions, however, there were consequences. Hans eventually had to escape to Sweden, himself, in fear of his life. His sister was imprisoned by the Nazis for many years. His parents also lost the family farm – confiscated by the Nazis – only getting it back after the war. It was after the war that Hans Christen Mamen continued his leadership – becoming a pastor, a politician, and being involved in scouting.
But it was for his brave actions during the war – actions that saved countless Jews from certain death – that Hans Christen Mamen was named Righteous Among the Nations in 1979.