Victor Baumann

Victor Baumann (1870-1932), the son of a railway engineer, grew up in Kristiania [now Oslo] and Skedsmo. In the 1880s the family lived in Røros for a period of time, which is where Victor for the first time got a taste of the subarctic climate.
At the age of 16 he went to sea, as the first step in a naval career. In 1893 Baumann graduated from the naval academy, followed by studies at the college in Charlottenburg and the naval observatory in Wilhelmshafen. He rose quickly in the navy ranks, from First Lieutenant in 1894 to his final rank as Commander in 1911. He was the ship owner's inspector when Norway's first ironclad was built in the 1890s. But he left his naval career in 1908 to become a ship inspector with the shipping company Det Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab in Trondheim. From 1922 he was a deputy director with the same company.
The reason a street is named after him in the Byåsen district is connected to what he did from 1898 to 1902. He then served as the next in command for Otto Sverdrup during the second Fram expedition. Aboard the polar ship Fram the expedition mapped approximately 150 000 km2 of unknown terrain in the areas northwest of Greenland and on the Canadian north coast.
With the Fram, frozen in the ice, as their base, the expedition explored the area through four seasons. With his practical and theoretical schooling from the navy Baumann was a very useful man for the expedition. He was better prepared than most for the frequently extreme conditions in the Arctic, and among the most eager when it came to spending days in the field. Sverdrup also left Baumann in charge of the men, who with his military background required somewhat harsher discipline than what some of the crew were prepared and motivated for.
In spite of the lure of more polar exploration and plans for more expeditions, Baumann settled down as a family man in Trondheim. When Victor Baumann died at the age of 62 in 1932, his obituary said that "Behind his at times tough exterior, there was a man of great vivacity and bubbly humour."
Recommended reading: Per Egil Hegge: Otto Sverdrup: Aldri rådløs [Otto Sverdrup: Never at a loss]. Stenersen, 1996.

Author: Einar Rædergård