• Eric Gomes de Sousa

The world’s most interesting man

What you do you want to be remembered for? What’s your story?

I want you to really think about this question because life is short. Sounds cliché but it is. You don’t need an answer because I do not think the person I’m writing about had one either, well at least not from the beginning of their life.


30 books, seven arctic expeditions, an Oscar-winning award, actor and film producer, anthropologist, cartographer, zoologist, company director, three wives, a gold medal holder and much more, the 6’7” peg-legged Nordic Viking has quite a life résumé under his belt. Allow me to introduce the world’s most interesting man, Peter Freuchen.


Peter Freuchen, 1886 - 1957

Born in 1886, Lorenz Peter Elfred Freuchen was a Danish anthropologist, author, journalist and explorer, having participated in seven arctic expeditions from the young age of 20, after dropping out from medical school. The overachiever worked with Knud Rasmussen, another very well-known explorer in the Nordic and Canadian Inuit culture and spent many years living with the Polar Inuits; throughout his expeditions, Freuchen nearly covered the north and south Poles as well as Siberia. During one of his expeditions, Freuchen lost his left leg to frostbite and had to have it amputated.


Freuchen spent his 30s and early 40s living on his own island, where he wrote a ridiculous number of books and articles. He also received and entertained his guests there. Following his literary success, Freuchen became the leader of a film production company that specialized in Arctic scripts and starred in the 1933 film Eskimo as the main villain, which won an Oscar for best film editing.


Peter Freuchen lived through the holocaust period. Upon his return to Denmark after his arctic expeditions, he joined the social democrats and fought in the war as a member of the Danish resistance against the German National Socialists. He was caught however, imprisoned and sentenced to death as he was Jewish, but he was able to escape to neighbouring Sweden.


Peter with his first wife Navarana Meqopaluk

Freuchen married three times, had three children with his first wife with whom he travelled with during his first few expeditions. She later died of the Spanish Flu. His second marriage was to Magdalene Lauridsen, the daughter of an extremely wealthy businessman and then-director of Danmarks Nationalbank. When that marriage didn’t work, the two divorced and Freuchen once again found love, marrying Dagmar Cohn, fashion illustrator known for her work in Vogue magazine’s April 1947 edition which introduced Christian Dior.


The man continued to impress people, when he answered the $64,000 question of the American TV show The $64,000 question, a question that had remained unanswered until Freuchen answered it. The following year he was awarded the Gold Medal of the International Benjamin Franklin Society for his service to mankind in opening new frontiers. Freuchen died of a heart attack in 1957 aged 71 in Alaska, USA, and was cremated. His ashes were scattered around former Thule, Greenland (now Qaanaaq), the birthplace of his purpose in life.

Peter with Dagmar Cohn and his family

I wanted to write about this man because the pandemic has had a huge impact in my career choices, life purpose and given me time and space for deep introspective. I have always been driven and ambitious, but I never felt I had a purpose. I feel like I have found my purpose in life, and that is to bring more fun to the world. It’s always been that; it’s showed in my personality, my job choices, my hobbies, my holiday destinations, my friends. My aim is to scale my purpose on a global scale and reach you, wherever you are reading this from.







Sources

https://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/3425/the-remarkable-life-of-peter-freuchen

https://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/arctic-relations/2019/10/22/peter-freuchen-the-colonial-adventurer-and-his-legacy/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Freuchen

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