Bertha von Suttner

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For the asteroid, see 12799 von Suttner.
Bertha von Suttner
Bertha von Suttner nobel.jpg
Bertha von Suttner c. 1906
Born (1843-06-09)9 June 1843
Prague, Austrian Empire
Died 21 June 1914(1914-06-21) (aged 71)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Occupation novelist
Awards Nobel Peace Prize, 1905
A German postage stamp commemorating Bertha von Suttner.

Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner (Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Gräfin (Countess) Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau; 9 June 1843 – 21 June 1914) was an Austrian novelist, pacifist, and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the second person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in any category.[1]

Early life[edit]

Suttner was born in Prague, Bohemia, the daughter of an impoverished[2] Austrian lieutenant general (Feldmarschall-Leutnant), Franz de Paula Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, and wife Sophie von Körner,[3] and governess to the wealthy Suttner family from 1873. She had an older brother, Arthur Franz Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. Suttner's father died at the age of 75, before she was born. As a child, Suttner learnt several languages, was interested in music, and travelled a lot.

She became engaged to engineer and novelist Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner (who died on 10 December 1902), but his family opposed the match, and she answered an advertisement from Alfred Nobel in 1876 to become his secretary-housekeeper at his Paris residence. She only remained a week before returning to Vienna and secretly marrying Arthur on 12 June 1876.

Bertha von Suttner Monument in Wagga Wagga, Australia.


Suttner became a leading figure in the peace movement with the publication of her novel, Die Waffen nieder! ("Lay Down Your Arms!") in 1889 and founded an Austrian pacifist organization in 1891. She gained international repute as editor of the international pacifist journal Die Waffen nieder!, named after her book, from 1892 to 1899. In 1911 she became a member of the advisory council of the Carnegie Peace Foundation.[4]

Her pacifism was influenced by the writings of Immanuel Kant, Henry Thomas Buckle, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin and Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy praised Die Waffen nieder!). [5] Suttner was also a journalist, with one historian stating her work revealed her as "a most perceptive and adept political commentator, for a woman".[5]

Influence on Alfred Nobel[edit]

Though her personal contact with Alfred Nobel had been brief, she corresponded with him until his death in 1896, and it is believed that she was a major influence in his decision to include a peace prize among those prizes provided in his will, which she won in 1905.

Commemoration on coins and stamps[edit]

  • Bertha von Suttner was selected as a main motif for a high value collectors' coin: the 2008 Europe Taler. The reverse shows important people in the history of Europe, including Bertha von Suttner. Also depicted in the coin are Martin Luther (symbolising the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern period); Antonio Vivaldi (exemplifying the importance of European cultural life); and James Watt (representing the industrialization of Europe, inventor of the first steam engine in the 18th century).
  • She is depicted on the Austrian 2 euro coin, and was pictured on the old Austrian 1000 schilling bank note.
  • She was commemorated on a 2005 German postage stamp.

On film[edit]

  • Die Waffen nieder, by Holger Madsen and Carl Theodor Dreyer. Released by Nordisk Films Kompagni in 1914.[6][7]
  • "No Greater Love" (German: Herz der Welt), a 1952 film[8] has Bertha as the main character.

Works in English translation[edit]

  • Memoirs of Bertha von Suttner; The Records of an Eventful Life, Pub. for the International School of Peace, Ginn and company, 1910.
  • When Thoughts Will Soar; A Romance of the Immediate Future, by Baroness Bertha von Suttner ... tr. by Nathan Haskell Dole. Boston, New York, Houghton Mifflin company, 1914.
  • Lay Down Your Arms; The Autobiography of Martha von Tilling, by Bertha von Suttner. Authorised translation by T. Holmes, rev. by the author. 2d ed. New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1906.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ and the second woman to be a Nobel Prize laureate
  2. ^ Biography on Timeline of Nobel Prize Winners
  3. ^ Smith, Digby; Kudrna, Leopold (2008). "Biographical Dictionary of All Austrian Generals During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792-1815: Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, Franz de Paula Joseph Graf". 
  4. ^ Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Suttner, Bertha". Encyclopædia Britannica 32 (12th ed.). London & New York. p. 628. 
  5. ^ a b Bertha von Suttner by Irwin Adams. The World Encyclopedia of Peace. Edited by Ervin László, Linus Pauling and Jong Youl Yoo. Oxford : Pergamon, 1986. ISBN 0-08-032685-4, (vol. 3, pp. 201–4).
  6. ^ Kelly, A. (1991). "Film As Antiwar Propaganda". Peace & Change 16: 97–112. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0130.1991.tb00567.x.  edit
  7. ^ Ned Med Vaabnene (1914) – IMDb
  8. ^ Herz der Welt (1952) – IMDb

External links[edit]