Sven Hedin

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Sven Hedin

Dr. phil. Dr. h. c. mult. Sven Hedin
Born Sven Anders Hedin
19 February 1865(1865-02-19)
Stockholm, Sweden
Died 26 November 1952 (aged 87)
Stockholm, Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Awards Vega Medal (1898)
Livingstone Medal (1902)
Victoria Medal (1903)
Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (1909)
Olympia Honour Badge, 1st Class (1936)
City of Berlin Plaque of Honor (1938)
Order of the German Eagle (1940)
Gold Medal from the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (1943)
Eight honorary doctorates

Sven Anders Hedin (19 February 1865 – 26 November 1952) was a Swedish geographer, explorer, photographer, travel writer and illustrator of his own works.


Sven Hedin III.png
Sven Hedin II.jpg
Sven Hedin and Adolf Hitler in Berlin during the Summer Olympic Games 1936

During four expeditions to Central Asia, he made the Transhimalaya known in the West and located sources of the Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej Rivers. In his book Från pol till pol (From Pole to Pole), Hedin describes a journey through Asia and Europe between the late 1880s and the early 1900s. While traveling, Hedin visited Turkey, the Caucasus, Tehran, Iraq, lands of the Kyrgyz people and the Russian Far East, India, China and Japan.

Hedin and National Socialist Germany

Adolf Hitler had been an early admirer of Hedin, who was in turn impressed with Hitler's work. He saw the German leader's rise to power as a revival of German fortunes, and welcomed its challenge against Soviet Communism. He was not an entirely uncritical supporter of the National Socialists, however.

Hedin met Adolf Hitler and other leading National Socialists repeatedly and was in regular correspondence with them.

In 1942, Hitler read Hedin's critical book entitled, Amerika im Kampf der Kontinente (America in the Battle of the Continents). In a letter to Hedin, Hitler wrote, "I thank you warmly for the attention you have shown me. I have already read the book and welcome in particular that you so explicitly detailed the offers I made to Poland at the beginning of the War".


Amerika im Kampf der Kontinente


Scientific documentation

  • Sven Hedin: Die geographisch-wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse meiner Reisen in Zentralasien 1894–97. Supplementary volume 28 to Petermanns Mitteilungen. Gotha 1900.
  • Sven Hedin: Scientific results of a journey in Central-Asia. 10 text and 2 map volumes. Stockholm 1904–1907. Volume 4
  • Sven Hedin: Trans-Himalaya: Discoveries and Adventures in Tibet, Volume 1 1909 VOL. II
  • Sven Hedin: Southern Tibet. 11 text and 3 map volumes. Stockholm 1917–1922. VOL. VIII
  • Reports from the scientific expedition to the north-western provinces of China under leadership of Dr. Sven Hedin. The sino-Swedish expedition. Over 50 volumes to date, contains primary and secondary literature. Stockholm 1937 ff.
  • Sven Hedin: Central Asia atlas. Maps, Statens etnografiska museum. Stockholm 1966. (appeared in the series Reports from the scientific expedition to the north-western provinces of China under the leadership of Dr. Sven Hedin. The sino-Swedish expedition; Ausgabe 47. 1. Geography; 1)
  • Sven Anders Hedin, Folke Bergman (1944). History of the expedition in Asia, 1927–1935, Part 3. Stockholm: Göteborg, Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag. 
  • Central Asia and Tibet: Towards the Holy City of Lassa, Volume 1
  • Through Asia
  • Through Asia, Volume 1

German editions

a) Biography

  • Verwehte Spuren. Orientfahrten des Reise-Bengt und anderer Reisenden im 17. Jahrhundert, Leipzig 1923.

b) Popular works

  • Durch Asiens Wüsten. Drei Jahre auf neuen Wegen in Pamir, Lop-nor, Tibet und China, 2 vol., Leipzig 1899; neue Ausgabe Wiesbaden 1981.
  • Im Herzen von Asien. Zehntausend Kilometer auf unbekannten Pfaden, 2 vol., Leipzig 1903.
  • Abenteuer in Tibet, Leipzig 1904; new edition Wiesbaden 1980.
  • Transhimalaja. Entdeckungen und Abenteuer in Tibet, Leipzig 1909–1912; new edition Wiesbaden 1985.
  • Zu Land nach Indien durch Persien. Seistan und Bclutschistan, 2 vol., Leipzig 1910.
  • Von Pol zu Pol, 3 vol., Leipzig 1911–1912; new edition Wiesbaden 1980.
  • Bagdad – Babylon – Ninive, Leipzig 1918
  • Jerusalem, Leipzig 1918.
  • General Prschewalskij in Innerasien, Leipzig 1922.
  • Meine erste Reise, Leipzig 1922.
  • An der Schwelle Innerasiens, Leipzig 1923.
  • Mount Everest, Leipzig 1923.
  • Persien und Mesopotamien, zwei asiatische Probleme, Leipzig 1923.
  • Von Peking nach Moskau, Leipzig 1924.
  • Gran Canon. Mein Besuch im amerikanischen Wunderland, Leipzig 1926.
  • Auf großer Fahrt. Meine Expedition mit Schweden, Deutschen und Chinesen durch die Wüste Gobi 1927– 1928, Leipzig 1929.
  • Rätsel der Gobi. Die Fortsetzung der Großen Fahrt durch Innerasien in den Jahren 1928–1930, Leipzig 1931.
  • Jehol, die Kaiserstadt, Leipzig 1932.
  • Die Flucht des Großen Pferdes, Leipzig 1935.
  • Die Seidenstraße, Leipzig 1936.
  • Der wandernde See, Leipzig 1937.
  • Im Verbotenen Land, Leipzig 1937
c) Political works
  • Ein Warnungsruf, Leipzig 1912.
  • Ein Volk in Waffen, Leipzig 1915.
  • Nach Osten!, Leipzig 1916.
  • Deutschland und der Weltfriede, Leipzig 1937 (unlike its translations, the original German edition of this title was printed but never delivered; only five copies were bound, one of which is in the possession of the F. A. Brockhaus Verlag, Wiesbaden).
  • Amerika im Kampf der Kontinente, Leipzig 1942
d) Autobiographical works
  • Mein Leben als Entdecker, Leipzig 1926.
  • Eroberungszüge in Tibet, Leipzig 1940.
  • Ohne Auftrag in Berlin, Buenos Aires 1949; Tübingen-Stuttgart 1950.
  • Große Männer, denen ich begegnete, 2 volumes, Wiesbaden 1951.
  • Meine Hunde in Asien, Wiesbaden 1953.
  • Mein Leben als Zeichner, published by Gösta Montell in commemoration of Hedin's 100th birthday, Wiesbaden 1965.
e) Fiction
  • Tsangpo Lamas Wallfahrt, 2 vol., Leipzig 1921–1923.

Most German publications on Hedin were translated by F.A. Brockhaus Verlag from Swedish into German. To this extent Swedish editions are the original text. Often after the first edition appeared, F.A. Brockhaus Verlag published abridged versions with the same title. Hedin had not only an important business relationship with the publisher Albert Brockhaus, but also a close friendship. Their correspondence can be found in the Riksarkivet in Stockholm. There is a publication on this subject:

  • Sven Hedin, Albert Brockhaus: Sven Hedin und Albert Brockhaus. Eine Freundschaft in Briefen zwischen Autor und Verleger. F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1942.


  • Willy Hess: Die Werke Sven Hedins. Versuch eines vollständigen Verzeichnisses. Sven Hedin – Leben und Briefe, Vol. I. Stockholm 1962. likewise.: First Supplement. Stockholm 1965
  • Manfred Kleiner: Sven Anders Hedin 1865–1952 – eine Bibliografie der Sekundärliteratur. Self-published Manfred Kleinert, Princeton 2001.


  • Detlef Brennecke: Sven Hedin mit Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1986, 1991.
  • Johannes Paul: Abenteuerliche Lebensreise – Sieben biografische Essays. including: Sven Hedin. Der letzte Entdeckungsreisende. Wilhelm Köhler Verlag, Minden 1954, pp. 317–378.
  • Alma Hedin: Mein Bruder Sven. Nach Briefen und Erinnerungen. Brockhaus Verlag, Leipzig 1925.
  • Eric Wennerholm: Sven Hedin 1865–1952. F. A. Brockhaus Verlag, Wiesbaden 1978.
  • Axel Odelberg: Äventyr på Riktigt Berättelsen om Upptäckaren Sven Hedin. Norstedts, Stockholm 2008 (new biography in Swedish, 600 pages).