Nobel Women

Bertha von Suttner

Bertha von Suttner, 1905 Winner of Nobel Peace Prize

October 14, 2009
by Sarah Amandolare
Bertha von Suttner grew up loving music, languages and travel, and eventually discovered a thirst for peace. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.

On a trip to Paris in 1887, Suttner first learned about the London-based International Peace and Arbitration Association, which aimed to establish an international court of arbitration. The artistic and extremely well-read young woman immediately joined the group and established herself as a spokeswoman. She devoted herself to spreading the word about the concept of an international court, and to learning more about the realities of war.

During her research, which involved discussions with army surgeons and officers in the field, Suttner gathered material for “Lay Down Your Arms,” an anti-war novel published in 1891 that both stunned and thrilled audiences. Her manifesto, published the same year, led to the creation of the Austrian Peace Society. She also became involved in establishing other peace organizations in Switzerland, Germany and Hungary.

Suttner’s connection to the Nobel Prize began much earlier, when she worked briefly as Alfred Nobel’s secretary in 1876 at the age of 30. With A.H. Fried, Von Suttner started a “peace journal” called “Die Waffen Nieder” in 1892. That same year, she made a promise to Nobel to provide him with consistent updates on the peace movement with hopes of convincing him “of its effectiveness,” according to Nobel Foundation Web site

Most Recent Features