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Al Raddi's Blog

06 Apr 2020

Bertha von Suttner and the Nobel Peace Prize

National Coin Week | Al Raddi

When he died in 1896, Alfred Nobel specified in his will that 94% of his assets - over 400 million in today's U.S. dollars - would be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Nobel left no explanation for choosing peaceas a prize category, so we're left to speculate. It would be simple to surmise that it was his way to compensate for being an armaments manufacturer and inventing dynamite. However, a more proximate reason may have been the influence of Bertha von Suttner.

Bertha Felicitas Sophie von Suttnerwas born in June 1843 in Prague. She was the posthumous daughter of a field marshal and raised in an aristocratic society with strong militaristic traditions. She was introduced to literature, philosophy, languages and music early in her life. When the family's funds dwindled (due, in large part to her mother's gambling) she took a position in Vienna as teacher-companion to the daughters of the Suttner household. In 1876 she answered a newspaper ad and left for Paris to becomeAlfred Nobel's secretary. She returned to Vienna after only a brief stay to marry the girls' older brother, but had developed a close friendship with Nobel.

Because the Suttners disapproved of the marriage, the young couple left immediately for the Caucasus where they made an uncertain living by giving lessons in languages, music and writing.Through a friend, they learned about the International Arbitration and Peace Association, an organization that promoted arbitration and peace rather than armed force to achieve peace. And, Bertha von Suttner published two anti-militaristic books that catapulted her into the leadership of the international peace movement. All the while, she kept in touch with Alfred Nobel discussing her work with him.

In 1905, she herself won the Nobel Peace Prize. And she is portrayed on the obverse of an Austria 2002 two-euro coin.

Comments

Longstrider

Level 6

I am amazed by these woman's work during this period in the world. Thanks

Mokie

Level 6

Another remarkable Woman in an age where Women were not given a place at the table of ideas. Nevertheless, she persisted. Bravo Ms. Von Suttner.

Golfer

Level 5

Thanks for the post. Very interesting story about the Nobel Peach Prize and it's history. Bertha von Suttner and the international peach movement sounds like a great story to learn more about. Would love to find one of her books or read some of what she wrote. thanks

Al Raddi

Level 4

"Lay Down Your Arms" is available on Amazon.

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