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Bertha von Suttner

Bertha von Suttner

The Nobel Peace Prize 1905

Generalissimo, Peace Movement. Author, 'Lay Down Your Arms'. Permanent International Peace Bureau. Vigorously opposed militaristic traditions. Eternal truth: happiness created, developed in peace. Eternal right: individual's right to live.

"Inform me, convince me, and then I will do something great for the movement", Alfred Nobel said to Bertha von Suttner."

By Lillian Hatch

Born in 1843 to an impoverished but aristocratic Austrian family, Bertha von Suttner was well educated, well-traveled, and fluent in many languages. She was influenced by the writings of Immanuel Kant, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Darwin and others.

She met her husband Baron Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner while working as a governess to his family. Prior to their marriage she worked briefly for Alfred Nobel in Paris in 1876. After many years of estrangement from her husband's family and living abroad in the Caucasus as writers, she and her husband returned to Austria in 1885. After writing many acclaimed books, one of her bestsellers provided them with enough money to move to Paris.

In Paris she met Nobel again who brought her and her husband into contact with the city's intellectual and social leaders. They learned about London's International Peace and Arbitration Society and were immediately drawn to that society's aims. This society was founded in 1880 by Hodgson Pratt and its goal was to use arbitration to settle disputes instead of armed conflict. Suttner decided to use her writing talents to further the causes of the society.

To that end, she wrote the novel Lay Down your Arms, her most famous work, which contained many anti-war themes. The book's success brought her to the attention of those in the anti-war movement. She was named President of the Austrian Peace Society, she started a monthly journal also named Lay Down Your Arms with the journalist Alfred Hermann Fried, and she was a featured speaker at the first Hague Peace Conference of 1899. This conference was attended by high-ranking officials from the US, Britain and France.

She continued her efforts after her husband's death in 1902, spreading her message of peace to the United States on a speaking tour. She continued attending peace conferences and writing for the cause of peace. In 1905 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace on behalf of her efforts. She was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in the Peace category.

She died on 21 June 1914, just a few months before the start of World War I.

Bertha von Suttner, Peace Pledge Union.

Works by or about Bertha von Suttner, Internet Archive

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Photo: nobelprize.org

Name: Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner
Birth: 9 June 1843, Prague, Austrian Empire (now Czech Republic)
Death: 21 June 1914, Vienna, Austria
Residence at the time of the award: Austria
Role: Author of Lay Down Your Arms, Honorary President of Permanent International Peace Bureau, Berne, Switzerland
Field: peace movement
Collected Papers
Honoring Suttner