Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart

Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart
Van Heuven Goedhart (Regent's Park London, 1944)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
In office
January 1, 1951  July 8, 1956
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Auguste R. Lindt
In office
October 22, 1947  January 1, 1951
Monarch Wilhelmina
Minister of Justice
In office
July 12, 1944  February 23, 1945
Preceded by Johannes Regnerus Maria van Angeren
Succeeded by Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy
Personal details
Born Gerrit Jan Goedhart
(1901-03-19)March 19, 1901
Bussum, Netherlands
Died July 8, 1956(1956-07-08) (aged 55)
Geneva, Switzerland
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party
Spouse(s) Francis Becht (1924-1931)
Erna Hauan (1932-1956)
Alma mater Leiden University (Dr.)
Occupation Politician
Awards Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion (1949)
1954 Nobel Peace Prize (1954; as UNHCR)
Wateler Peace Prize (1956)

Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart (March 19, 1901 July 8, 1956) was a Dutch politician and diplomat. He was the first United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1951–1956).

Van Heuven Goedhart studied Law at Leiden University and graduated in 1926. The year before, he had already become a reporter for newspaper De Telegraaf. On January 1, 1930, at the age of 28, he was promoted to editor in chief. He was fired on June 1, 1933, because he refused to publish an article that called the newly elected German leader Adolf Hitler "a great statesman". He became editor in chief of regional newspaper Utrechts Nieuwsblad, where he would stay in office until the German invasion of the Netherlands.

During the Second World War, Van Heuven Goedhart worked as a reporter and editor in chief for the illegal resistance newspaper Het Parool. In 1944 he fled to London, where he was appointed Minister of Justice in the government in exile.

After the Second World War, Van Heuven Goedhart returned to Het Parool, where he once again become editor in chief. In 1947, he also became Senator for the Labour Party. In 1951, he gave up both occupations to become the first High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations. Under Van Heuven Goedhart, the UNHCR was awarded the 1954 Nobel Peace Prize.

Van Heuven Goedhart was also the first chairman of the "state committee for the coordination of government information" (Dutch: Staatscommissie over de coördinatie van de overheidsvoorlichting), the predecessor of the Netherlands Government Information Service (Dutch: Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst).


Personal life

Van Heuven Goedhart was born on March 19, 1901 in Bussum, North Holland. His father, Gijsbert Willem Goedhart, was a Protestant vicar. His mother was Francina Dingena Helena van Heuven. Van Heuven Goedhart was initially called Goedhart, but in 1933 he received permission to add his mother's maiden name to his surname.

Van Heuven Goedhart married Francis Becht (1899–1987) in 1924. The marriage was dissolved in 1931. In 1932, Van Heuven Goedhart married Norwegian Erna Hauan (1899–1991). Van Heuven Goedhart had two children from his second marriage, Karin Sophie and Bergliot Halldis.[1][2]

Van Heuven Goedhart died in Geneva on July 8, 1956, while being United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

See also


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