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mercredi, 04 mars 2015

Sven Hedin : explorateur des immensités centre-asiatiques

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Helge Morgengrauen :

Sven Hedin : explorateur des immensités centre-asiatiques

A l’occasion du 150ème anniversaire de sa naissance

Sven-Hedin_1652.jpegSven Hedin est né le dimanche 19 février 1865 au sein d’une  famille bien en vue de la bourgeoisie de Stockholm, descendant de lignées paysannes du centre de la Suède mais qui comptait aussi, parmi ses ancêtres, un rabbin de Francfort-sur-l’Oder. Le père de Sven Hedin était un architecte très actif, qui a connu le succès tout au long de sa carrière. La famille « vivait simplement, sans prétention, en ses foyers régnaient calme et tranquillité, confort et bonheur », écrira plus tard son célèbre fils.

Ce fils exceptionnel a reçu les prénoms de Sven Anders et, très tôt, il savait déjà qu’il deviendrait un explorateur. Tout au début de son rêve, il admirait les explorateurs polaires, surtout son compatriote Nordenskiöld qui fut le premier à maîtriser le passage du Nord-Est, soit la voie maritime dans l’Océan Glacial Arctique qui longe les côtes septentrionales de l’Europe et de l’Asie. C’est Nordenskiöld que le jeune Sven Hedin voulait imiter.

Plus tard, dans les années 1880, le jeune homme, à l’approche de ses vingt ans, part pour la première fois en Asie. Il est d’abord, pendant quelques mois, précepteur dans une famille suédoise. Il avait déjà appris le russe, la langue persane et celle des Tatars. Quand sa tâche de précepteur prit fin, il utilisa l’argent gagné pour faire un long voyage à travers la Perse, la Mésopotamie et le Caucase. Cet enfant, né un dimanche, avait parcouru plus de 3000 km dans des déserts, des montagnes enneigées, avait traversé lacs, mers et fleuves, avait utilisé soixante chevaux sur les chemins les plus dangereux sans subir le moindre dommage, sans avoir été dépouillé par des bandits, sans être tombé malade. Sven Hedin, en effet, avait une constitution de fer : le succès de son voyage le prouvait ; plus tard, cette santé n’allait jamais le trahir. Revenu en Suède, il relate ses voyages dans un livre, qui parait en 1887 et compte 461 pages : encore aujourd’hui, la lecture de cet ouvrage demeure captivante. Sven Hedin avait une santé de fer, bien d’autres dons, mais aussi et surtout celui d’écrire.

Quelques années plus tard, il participe, au titre de vice-consul, à une mission diplomatique suédoise, que le Roi Oscar II envoie au Shah de Perse. Cette mission ne dure qu’un an mais, au cours de cette année en Perse, Hedin escalade le Demawend, la plus haute montagne de Perse (5610 m). Dès son retour, il rédige une thèse sur ce massif montagneux iranien et obtient ainsi le titre de docteur en 1892 à l’Université de Halle an der Saale en Allemagne. Ensuite, un livre tout public, intitulé « Durch Khorassan und Turkestan » (« A travers le Khorassan et le Turkestan »), rend compte de ce voyage.

Sven Hedin avait trouvé sa voie. Dans les années qui suivirent cette première mission en Perse, il organise quatre expéditions en Asie centrale qui, chacune, dureront parfois plusieurs années et lui procureront une gloire internationale. La première de ces expéditions, de 1893 à 1897, parcourt l’Asie centrale : Hedin explore la chaîne du Pamir, dans la région frontalière actuelle qui sépare l’Afghanistan, la Chine, le Kirghizistan et le Tadjikistan. Il ne parvient toutefois pas à escalader jusqu’au sommet une montagne de cette chaîne qui dépasse les 7000 m. Il traverse aussi le désert du Taklamakan, où il est presque mort de soif : il relatera ultérieurement cette expédition dans un livre très poignant, « Abenteuer in Tibet » (« Aventure au Tibet »). De fait, Hedin s’était avancé très profondément dans le territoire tibétain, encore inconnu des Européens.

 

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Deux ans après cette première expédition, en 1899, Sven Hedin s’embarque pour un nouveau long voyage qui durera jusqu’en 1902. Dans le cadre de cette nouvelle expédition, il voyage 2000 km sur fleuve le long de la chaîne du Tarim et découvre le secret naturel de la « mer mouvante », le Lop Nor. Il essaie en vain d’atteindre la capitale Lhassa. De 1905 à 1909, une troisième expédition le mènera dans plusieurs régions encore inconnues de l’Asie centrale. Il traverse le désert du Kevir et parcourt, en tout et pour tout, huit fois les pistes transhimalayennes dans une région montagneuse qui recevra plus tard son nom. Il explore également les régions aux sources des fleuves Bhramapoutre et Indus.

Lorsque Sven Hedin entreprend en 1926 sa dernière expédition, la plus longue de sa carrière, il a presque 61 ans : l’enthousiasme, le désir de découvrir et d’œuvrer au bénéfice des sciences géographiques, ne l’a toujours pas quitté. Cette dernière expédition va durer neuf ans ! Dans le cadre de ce très long voyage, il doit vérifier, pour le compte de la Lufthansa allemande, quelles pourraient être les voies aériennes pour accéder à l’Extrême Orient.

Dans la foulée, Hedin dirige ce que l’on appelait à l’époque, l’ « Université itinérante » (« Die wandernde Universität ») et recherche également, pour un Américain, une lamasserie pour qu’on puisse la reproduire pour une exposition universelle devant se dérouler à Chicago. De plus, pour le compte du gouvernement chinois, il examine les possibilités de tracer des voies de communication terrestres dans le Sin-Kiang.

Tous ses voyages ont été relatés dans de nombreux ouvrages. Sven Hedin a également été l’auteur de livres populaires, que les non scientifiques aujourd’hui, liront encore avec beaucoup de plaisir. Parmi ces ouvrages à destination du grand public, nous en trouvons plusieurs rédigés pour les jeunesses suédoise et allemande, parmi lesquels « Abenteuer in Tibet », « Von Pol zu Pol » (« D’un Pôle à l’autre ») et « Meine erste Reise » (« Mon premier voyage »).

Tout au long de sa vie, Hedin a été honoré, a reçu plusieurs titres de docteur (dont ceux que lui ont octroyés les universités d’Oxford et de Cambridge). Il a rencontré personnellement de nombreuses têtes couronnées et des chefs d’Etat, ce qu’il raconte par ailleurs dans « Grosse Männer, denen ich begegnete » (« Les grands hommes que j’ai rencontrés »).

Sven_Hedin's_gravestone_at_Adolf_Fredriks_kyrkogård,_Stockholm,_Sweden.jpgHedin était germanophile et ne s’en est jamais caché. Cette sympathie pour le Reich, il la conservera même après l’effondrement dans l’horreur que l’Allemagne a connu en 1945. On lui reprochera cette attitude, aussi en Suède et, évidemment, dans les pays victorieux. La rééducation, en Allemagne, fera que ce germanophile impénitent sera également ostracisé, en dépit de ses origines partiellement juives et de son esprit universel. Cet ostracisme durera longtemps, perdure même jusqu’à nos jours. Pourtant Hedin, qui avait la plume si facile, s’est justifié avec brio, en écrivant « Ohne Auftrag in Berlin » (« A Berlin sans ordre de mission »). Ses démonstrations n’ont servi à rien. Sven Hedin meurt, isolé, à Stockholm le 26 novembre 1952.

Helge Morgengrauen.

(article paru dans « zur Zeit », Vienne, n°8/2015 ; http://www.zurzeit.at ).

Sven Hedin's 1928 Expedition through the Gobi Desert of China

Sven Hedin's 1928 Expedition through the Gobi Desert of China

A silent documentary made in 1928 of Swedish explore Sven Hedin's expedition through the Gobi desert of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. Towns visited include Baotou (Paotou), Hami (Kumul) and Urumchi (Urumqi). At the very end of the film Sven Hedin meets Xinjiang's warlord governor Yang Zengxin (who was assassinated a few months later).
FULL VERSION:
http://www.archive.org/details/swedis...

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Sven Hedin's journeys in Iran

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Sven Hedin's journeys in Iran

Ex: http://svenhedin.com

Sven Hedin is Sweden’s greatest explorer and adventurer of all time. He was born in Stockholm 1865 and decided to follow this path in his early teens. The first step in his career came when he in 1885, as a 20-year-old, had the opportunity to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, to work as a private tutor for the son of a Swedish engineer in the Nobel-owned oil industry. When Hedin had fulfilled his duties as a tutor, he set out on a three month journey through Persia – today’s Iran (Hedin 1887). This was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with Iran’s rich nature, history and culture and he was to return twice (Wahlquist 2007).

svenhedinuuuu.jpgHedin’s (1891) second visit to Iran was as a member of the Swedish King Oscar II’s diplomatic mission to the Persian king Nasr-ed-din Shah in 1890. After the formal assignment Hedin followed the Shah to the Elburz Mountains and made a successful attempt to ascend Mount Damāvand – a snow capped volcano reaching 5,671 meters above sea level and also the highest mountain in the Middle East. This achievement constituted the basis for Hedin’s (1892a) doctoral dissertation two years later. Before returning to Sweden Hedin set off on a reconnaissance trip from Tehran towards Central Asia that took him all the way to Kashgar in westernmost China. Along this route he got a first glimpse of Iran’s central salt desert, the Dasht-e Kavir (Hedin 1892b). The following decade Hedin conducted two extended scientific expeditions focusing on the deserts of Xinjiang and the high plateau of Tibet.

Hedin’s (1910) third expedition, 1905-1908, had like the previous two, the Tibetan plateau as primary goal, but he decided to take an approach route through the deserts of eastern Persia – overland to India. This resulted in a two volume scientific work with a detailed series of maps of Iran based on his 232 sheets of original map sketches (Hedin 1918). Hedin was interested in long term environmental changes and on the Tibetan plateau he had found how lakes dry up, lose their outlets and become salty. The vast deserts and drainage-less basins of Iran provided him with an area for comparative research (Wahlquist 2007). Hedin was a relentless field researcher and recorded all information he could get in the form of diaries, photographs, drawings and water colors. He developed a method of capturing the landscape by making panorama drawings at all his camps that were incredibly accurate (Dahlgren, Rosén, and W:son Ahlmann 1918).

The main objective for our expedition in April-May 2013 was to follow Hedin’s 1906 route through the deserts of eastern Persia and follow up on his geographic and ethnographic observations, with the purpose of revealing changes that have taken place during the last century. In particular this would be done by locating Hedin’s historical camera positions and make repeated photographs that exactly match the originals. A second objective was to repeat Hedin’s most spectacular adventures in Iran – the crossing of Iran’s central salt desert and his ascent of Mount Damāvand in 1890.

For anyone interested in further readings about Sven Hedin’s journey’s through Persia, the works referenced in this article and listed below are the most important sources.

References

Dahlgren, Erik W., Karl D. P. Rosén, and Hans W:son Ahlmann. 1918. “Sven Hedins Forskningar I Södra Tibet 1906-1908: En Granskande Öfversikt.” In Ymer, 38:101–186. Stockholm, Sweden: Svenska sällskapet för antropologi och geografi.

Hedin, Sven. 1887. Genom Persien, Mesopotamien Och Kaukasien: Reseminnen. Stockholm, Sweden: Albert Bonniers.
———. 1891. Konung Oscars Beskickning till Schahen Af Persien. Stockholm: Samson & Wallin.
———. 1892a. “Der Demavend, Nach Eigener Beobachtung”. Inaugural dissertation, Halle, Germany: University of Halle.
———. 1892b. Genom Khorasan Och Turkestan. 2 vols. Stockholm, Sweden: Samson & Wallin.
———. 1910. Öfver Land till Indien: Genom Persien, Seistan Och Belutjistan. 2 vols. Stockholm, Sweden: Albert Bonniers.
———. 1918. Eine Routenaufnahme durch Ostpersien. 2 vols. Stockholm, Sweden: Generalstabens litografiska anstalt.

Wahlquist, Håkan. 2007. From Damavand to Kevir: Sven Hedin and Iran 1886-1906. Tehran, Iran: Embassy of Sweden.

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mardi, 26 février 2013

Remembering Sven Hedin

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Remembering Sven Hedin

By Savitri Devi

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Editor’s Note: 

We are presenting the following excerpts from Savitri Devi’s And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews [2] in honor of the birthday of the great Swedish explorer Sven Anders Hedin (February 19, 1865–November 26, 1952). For a brief account of his life and work, see his Wikipedia [3] article. 

Hedin’s feats of exploration and his magnificent books recommend him to the attention of all mankind. What recommends him to the North American New Right is his devotion to the survival and flourishing of European man and civilization, which he believed was endangered by both communism and Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

As a Swede and a European, Hedin saw the Second German Reich as the best vehicle for the preservation of European civilization, and when Germany revived under the Third Reich, he reposed his hopes there, enjoying the friendship and admiration of Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, and other leading National Socialists.

As this text also makes clear, Hedin had more than a nodding knowledge of the traditional religions and spirituality of Asia.  

. . . I came back to England from Iceland at the end of ’47, and there I had to struggle a long time too. Until it was possible for Mr. Mukherji to send me a little money. He was himself in difficulty at the time. He had no job after the war. His past injured him a lot from the point of view of jobs. In fact, he couldn’t send me anything until ’48. But I already had a job. I got a job in the dancing company of Ram Gopal as a dresser.[1] I had to take care of the costumes of the girls and all that. It was not badly paid: £5 a week in England, £10 a week abroad. I was taken to France. I was taken to Norway. I was taken to Sweden. We stayed two-and-a-half months in Sweden, and that took me to June ’48.

Of course, I didn’t like the surroundings very much, and I don’t mean the surroundings in Sweden. I mean the surroundings in the company. The stage manager, Mr. Ben Topf, was a Jew. A Jew who said in the train he would like to see the larders full and the arsenals empty in Germany, naturally. And I hated him for it. [. . .]

In Sweden on the 6th of June, 1948 I met somebody extraor­dinary. I met Sven Hedin.[2] I wanted to meet him. I knew he was one of our people. But they told me, “Sven Hedin meets nobody after ’45. He doesn’t want to meet anybody. You can try.” So I wrote a letter to him, and he said, “Yes, you can come on Sun­day. You can come at 2:00.” I came there at 2:00, and I told him, “You see, we are going to Germany on the 14th.” I had been spending two or three nights, up all night, writing papers.[3] I had intended to spend all my salary in Sweden buying chocolate, sardines, butter, cigarettes, putting a paper in each box and throwing them from the windows of the Nord Express. We were going to pass through Germany. “And I’d like to know, can we have any hope?”

He said, “Why do you say, ‘Can we have any hope?’ Do you have no hope?” I said, “Well, I’m doing this just as an act of defiance, but what to do? Those of Nuremberg, they have killed them.” Sven Hedin said, “Don’t fear. Germany has more such men.” I said, “Yes, but when will they appear?” “They’ll appear in time.” And I said to him, “What about the Führer? Is he dead or alive?” He said, “Whether he’s dead or alive, he’s eternal. What does it matter to you?” I said, “I’ll never see him if he’s really not alive.” “Well, even if you do see him, what difference would it make? The war is lost anyhow. And his ideas are true anyhow, even with a lost war.” I said, “You are right. You are right.”

And with this sort of talk and with the encouragement he gave me, he said, “You can distribute your papers if you like, all through Germany. If you get into trouble . . .” I said, “I don’t care. I don’t care if I spend my life in an Allied concentration camp.” “In that case, carry on.” I felt my wings, my old wings were growing again. He wanted to give me supper, if you please. I never expected it. “It is 7:00 now, you can have supper with me.” I said, “At 7:00 I must be at the theater. It’s a night show. I have to be there. It’s my job.” He said, “All right.” So I went.

The first person I met in the theater was Ben Topf. He looked at me and said, “Mrs. Mukherji, what happened to you?” I said, “Nothing happened to me.” “You look 20 years younger.” I said, “Do I?” I said, “I met a great man.” “What kind of great man?” I said, “Sven Hedin, the great explorer of Central Asia. The one who found out the real way that Lop Nor and other Central Asian lakes go around and round and round. They fol­low the same route.” He said, “For that you are so pleased to meet that man?” And I said, “Yes I am. I am interested in arche­ology and explorations. What can you expect?” He didn’t believe me, of course. He found it queer. He wouldn’t have found it queer for long.

And Time Rolls On, pp. 54–56

In October ’46, I was staying at 104 Grosvenor Road, in a very quiet room. It was a building for nurses, a kind of hostel for nurses. They used to sleep in the daytime. At night they were on duty. So it was perfectly quiet in the daytime and at night. And that’s what I wanted. I liked physical peace. So I was there on the night of the 15th to 16th of October ’46. And I never read the papers. I didn’t want to read them. I didn’t want to see the evolution of the trial at Nuremberg. I hated it. But I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I couldn’t detach my mind from the fact that I knew, without reading the papers—every­body knew it—that the 11 were to be killed on that night.

I was thinking about it. I was thinking about it. And then sud­denly, I was not asleep, but I felt exactly as I used to feel after my exercises at Hatha yoga ten years before.[4] I was no longer in that room. I don’t know how I went through the walls. I was in Göring’s cell. And I saw Göring just as I see you. He was seated with his hands like this.[5] And suddenly he did like that. As though he saw me and was rather astonished. I had some­thing in my right hand, a tiny little piece of I don’t know what, something I held. And I said to him, “No fear”—“keine Angst.” “No fear. I’m not an enemy. I’m one of your people. I wish I could save you all from this ignominy, but unfortu­nately the heavenly powers gave me permission to save one, and one only, up to my choice, and I chose you because of your kindness to creatures. Because of your solicitude to ani­mals.”

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Göring had been a hunter in his youth. He had given it up. And he liked animals, that’s true. But some hunters do at the same time they’re hunters. He had a leopard for a pet. The leopard used to lie at his feet and purr, like a big cat. I knew that. What I knew also was that he contributed with the Führer to the setting up of the Reichsjagdgesetz,[6] a book thick like that. It is much more than a regulation of hunting. It’s a protection of nature. Traps are forbidden. One man hunting by himself is forbidden. It must be two. If an animal is wounded the other one will shoot it. Mustn’t kill fe­males. Mustn’t, mustn’t, mustn’t, mustn’t. The Führer could not forbid hunting altogether. He did what he could to lessen the effect, and Göring had a part of that.

That I knew before I got into this kind of queer state. I said to him, “Take this,” and gave him what I had in my right hand. I said, “Take this, and don’t allow these people to kill you as a criminal. You are not one. Anything but. Now I must go. Good-bye. Heil Hitler!” And I vanished. And I didn’t see any­thing of the kind. I fell completely unconscious after that. I saw Göring, and I was unconscious. I gave him whatever I had to give him. I was unconscious.

I woke up. It was 10:00 in the morning. I never wake up at 10:00. I wake up at 6:00. I never sleep like that. I opened my eyes. I said, “What a queer experience I had. Where did I go last night?” Anyhow, I bathed quickly, and I went downstairs. It was a rainy day, drizzly. I never bought a paper as I told you. I wasn’t going to buy the paper on the 16th of October, anything but. But I couldn’t help seeing the headlines on the papers. There was a newspaper kiosk just opposite. Headlines like that. Eight centimeters high. “Göring found dead in his cell, half past two in the morning. Nobody knows who gave him the poison. Potassium cyanide.”

I’ll never forget it. And I felt cold all over my body. It seemed to me that I saw the Nataraja, the dancing Shiva, as he is presented in Hindu tem­ples, dancing in the clouds. And I said, “If this has been done through me, use me in greater things still. If it’s me, that’s the best thing I did in my life.” I don’t know what really happened, to this day. I know what experience I had. I know what I felt. I know what I saw. I don’t know anything more. Is it a genuine experience? What is it? I just don’t know. I don’t pretend to know, and I don’t like to speak of what I don’t know.

Less than two years later, on June 6th, 1948, I met Sven Hedin, who is a scholar of Tibetology and has roamed all over Central Asia and seen things in Ladakh and Tibet. I asked him, “What would people in Ladakh or Tibet think of this?” He said, “My dear, they would find that the most natural thing in the world. That is no problem for a Tibetan or for a Ladakhi, for a Buddhist Lama. No problem at all. You went into the astral plane. You gave Göring some astral potassium cyanide, and it materialized in his hand. He took it and died, instead of being hanged.” I said, “I wish I could’ve done it for the 11.” “Well, you could for one. Be thankful that you could for one.” That’s what Sven Hedin told me. I don’t know any more than that. I never had a psychic experience in my life. That’s the only one.

And Time Rolls On, pp. 48–50

Notes

1. Ram Gopal (1912–2003) was one of the leaders of the revival of classical Indian dance and one of the most celebrated and widely traveled dancers of the 20th century. See his Rhythm in the Heavens: The Autobiography of Ram Gopal (London: Secker and Warburg, 1957).

2. On Hedin and Savitri’s first propaganda trip through occupied Germany, see Gold in the Furnace, ch. 4, “The Unfor­gettable Night.”

3. Savitri supplies a translation of the flyer in Gold in the Furnace: “In the midst of untold hardships and suffering, hold fast to our glorious National Socialist faith, and resist! Defy our persecutors! Defy the people, defy the forces that are working to ‘de-Nazify’ the German nation and the world at large! Nothing can destroy that which is built in truth. We are the pure gold put to test in the furnace. Let the furnace blaze and roar! Nothing can destroy us. One day we shall rise and triumph again. Hope and wait! Heil Hitler!” (Gold in the Furnace, 34).

4. See ch. 3, §9 below.

5. According to Sven Hedin (1865–1952), diary entry of 6 June 1948, Savitri told him that, “Han satt med huvudet i händerna” (“He [Göring] sat with his head in his hands”) (The papers of Sven Hedin, box 41, National Archives of Sweden).

6. Reich Hunting Law.


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/remembering-sven-hedin/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Sven-Hedin.jpg

[2] And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews: http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/and-time-rolls-on-now-in-kindle-and-nook/

[3] Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sven_Hedin

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vendredi, 02 mars 2012

Sven Hedin, la vita avventurosa del "Marco Polo" che veniva dal freddo

Ex: http://robertoalfattiappetiti.blogspot.com/

Sven Hedin, la vita avventurosa del "Marco Polo" che veniva dal freddo

 

Articolo di Luigi G. de Anna

Dal Secolo d'Italia del 24 febbraio 2012

Sessanta anni fa, il 26 novembre del 1952, moriva Sven Hedin (era nato il 19 febbraio del 1865), l'esploratore svedese ultimo grande rappresentante della "scoperta" occidentale in Asia. Diventato famoso per aver individuato le fonti dell'Indo e del Bramaputra, soffrì negli ultimi anni della sua vita dell'ostracismo conseguenza delle simpatie da lui nutrite per il nazionalsocialismo. Al contrario di altri suoi connazionali come August Andrée o N.E. Nordenskiöld (sarà proprio la vista del trionfo a Stoccolma di Nordenskiöld a spingerlo, aveva solo quindici anni, alla ferma determinazione di esplorare una parte del mondo), resterà affascinato non dai deserti dell'Artico ma da quelli dell'Asia. 

 
Nel 1889 termina gli studi intrapresi a Uppsala e a Berlino, dove era stato allievo del grande geografo Ferdinand von Richthofen. Nel 1890, dopo essere stato nominato attaché presso l'ambasciata di Svezia a Teheran, prende congedo per esplorare il Khurasan e il Turkestan cinese. Le prime, importanti spedizioni sono intraprese tra il 1893 e il 1909. Hedin raggiunge l'Asia centrale, l'Ural, il Pamir, il Tibet e la Cina, raccogliendo una immensa mole di dati geografici e cartografici (già in occasione del primo viaggio aveva disegnato ben 552 carte), ma anche geopolitici, che saranno di grande utilità per le potenze occidentali che in questi anni stanno attuando la loro penetrazione nell'Asia continentale. Il viaggio del 1893-1897 è quello che lo vide affrontare la "marcia della morte" fatta nel deserto di Taklimakan, dove la temperatura toccava i 63,5 gradi e dove due delle sue guide e tutti i cammelli morirono di sete. Riuscì a raggiungere un lago e a portare l'acqua alla sua guida oramai agonizzante, trasportandola nello stivale. Fu il primo occidentale a tornare da questo deserto.

Esplorò la regione del Pamir e dello Xinjiang fino a Lop Nur. Questo viaggio lo rese famoso, tanto che il britannico Geographical Journal lo definì il più grande esploratore dell'Asia dopo Marco Polo. Due anni più tardi, nel 1899, riparte con lo scopo di percorrere aree dell'Asia centrale ancora non tracciate nelle carte geografiche e di visitare il Tibet, fedele all'imperativo che si era dato "vai là dove nessuno è mai stato prima". Cercò di entrare a Lhasa travestito da mercante mongolo, camuffamento che però non ingannò le guardie della città che gli imposero di tornarsene se non voleva che gli tagliassero la testa. Raggiunse nuovamente Lop Nur, dove investigò la vera natura del "Lago errante", che doveva il suo nome al fatto che nel corso dei secoli aveva cambiato di sede, un fenomeno che Hedin scoprì essere dovuto alla sabbia accumulata che lo faceva traboccare nel terreno sottostante.
Il suo resoconto venne pubblicato nel 1941 in italiano da Einaudi. In occasione di questo viaggio scoprì anche le rovine dell'antica città di Loulan, abbandonata nel IV secolo d.C. Nel 1905 ritenta la spedizione tibetana, questa volta con successo nonostante venisse ostacolato dalle autorità inglesi, evidentemente timorose che potesse aprire nuovi canali diplomatici con il Paese himalayano. Fu il primo occidentale a entrare nell'allora città proibita di Lhasa, dove riuscì a stringere un vera amicizia con il giovane Dalai Lama, il che gli permise di visitare quasi l'intero Tibet. Fu infatti instancabile viaggiatore, tanto da superare per otto volte la catena dell'Himalaya e da accumulare una distanza percorsa di 26.000 chilometri, e cioè superiore a quella che separa i due poli.

Tornato in patria nel 1908 lo aspetta una lunga pausa, fino al 1927, quando venne incaricato di dirigere una spedizione internazionale nel Xinjiang e nella Mongolia esterna. Questa volta il pericolo maggiore è rappresentato dalla guerra civile che divampa in Cina, tanto che ebbe a scrivere: «Mi sento essere un pastore che deve proteggere il suo gregge dai lupi, dai banditi e soprattutto dai governatori». Chang Kai-shek lo incaricò di studiare la possibilità di costruire una strada carrozzabile che ripercorresse l'itinerario della Via della Seta.

L'appoggio del generalissimo cinese fu peraltro essenziale per il successo della missione, terminata nel 1935. Fu il suo ultimo viaggio. Nel 1904 Sven Hedin ebbe l'onore di essere l'ultimo cittadino svedese a essere nobilitato, infatti dopo di lui il re di Svezia cesserà di concedere titoli nobiliari. Fu scrittore e saggista molto prolifico, con i suoi 65 volumi e le 25.000 lettere mandate a colleghi, amici e semplici corrispondenti. Il timore di una espansione prima zarista e poi bolscevica lo portò a simpatizzare per la Germania. Sono peraltro gli anni in cui una parte della cultura svedese riscopre le proprie radici "nordiche" e lo scandinavismo diventa la controparte del teutonismo germanico. È interessante ricordare che Hedin sarà in seguito emarginato per le sue simpatie filo-naziste, ma il suo libro del '37 non fu mai pubblicato in Germania perché aveva egli stesso radici ebraiche e aveva criticato le persecuzioni nei confronti degli ebrei. Hedin comunque non rinnegherà mai la posizione filo-tedesca da lui assunta, anche con i suoi scritti, non ultimo il pamphlet anti-Roosvelt del 1942 (Amerika im Kampf der Kontinente, pubblicato a Lipsia). Su Hedin agì in maniera fondamentale il legame con Karl Haushofer, il fondatore della geopolitica moderna. E come Haushofer, anche Hedin merita di essere "riscoperto" e di riaffiorare alla cultura europea. Proprio come fece il suo lago errante.

Luigi G. De Anna