Anna B. Eckstein

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Anna Bernhardine Eckstein
Anna Eckstein as a young woman maybe 1907.jpg
Bernhardine Anna Eckstein[1]

14 June 1868[1]
Died16 October 1947
Known forPeace activism

Anna Bernhardine Eckstein (14 June 1868 – 16 October 1947) was a German champion of world peace, who trained as a teacher and campaigned for peace across the world. She gathered six million signatures on a petition and, in 1913, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The outbreak of the First World War interrupted her plans but her ideas influenced the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928.

Early life[edit]

Eckstein was born on 14 June 1868 in Coburg to Johann Nikolaus Eckstein and Anna Barbara Eckstein, neé Götz.[1] Her father was a porter and assistant telegraphist at the Werra-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft, a railway company.[1] Eckstein had a younger brother named Ernst and an older sister named Antonie (Toni), who was born with a disability. Financial reasons limited her formal form of education to only attending a girl's school from 1874 to 1882. However, Eckstein's teacher Ottilie Frese supported her in learning English and French, which made her want to become a teacher herself. She was confirmed in the main church of Coburg in 1882.[2]

At the age of 16, in September 1884, Eckstein left Germany to visit relatives in New York. The reasons for this are unclear. Her parents might have wanted to prevent her from forming a relationship with an aristocrat who was out of her range, or it was to support her teaching career. For the first few years she worked as a maid or teacher at various places and then took on a job as a private teacher for the daughter (Mamie) of a Jewish merchant (Godfrey Mannheimer) immigrated from Germany. While working in this household from December 1887 to October 1893 she joined the Mannheimer family on three trips to Germany.

Peace activism[edit]

Dressed in white in Vienna in 1911[3]

Eckstein moved to Boston in 1894, at first living with the novelist Martha "Mattie" Griffith Browne and still working as a teacher. In response to her disappointment at the outcomes of the Hague Conventions she joined the American Peace Society, of which she became vice president between 1905 and 1911. She collected over one million signatures, signed by supporters from the US, UK, and Germany, for a proposal she had written prior to the second peace conference in The Hague. On 4 July 1907 she handed this document to Aleksandr Ivanovich Baryatinsky, who led the conference. Since Eckstein did not see the treaties of this second conference as a success, she organised her own version funded by her own money. She went on to collect six million signatures which she planned to present at the third Hague peace conference in 1914 but the outbreak of the First World War prevented this.[4] This setback caused her to suffer a breakdown but her ideas eventually influenced the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928.[4]

With the support of the American publisher Edwin Ginn Eckstein travelled through Canada and Europe to promote her ideas. In 1909 she moved back to her birthplace Coburg. From there she continued to travel to most European countries, and also Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China, where she gained increasing support for her cause. She used to wear white dresses as a symbol of peace. Amongst others, Eckstein worked with Bertha von Suttner, Alfred Hermann Fried, Ludwig Quidde, and Jean Jaurès. Especially in France and Germany she also had to deal with opposition and criticism, but was nevertheless nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913.[5][6][3]

World War I[edit]

During the First World War, Eckstein wrote articles for a magazine on international law, whose editor was the German expert for international law, Theodor Niemeyer. She also published the book Staatenschutzvertrag zur Sicherung des Weltfriedens[7] (which translates as: state protection treaty to preserve world peace).

Later life and death[edit]

Plaque in Coburg

After the end of World War I Eckstein worked with the Deutsche Liga für den Völkerbund (German League of Nations) and set up regional groups of it, e.g. in her home town Coburg. There she was very active in trying to keep the uprise of National Socialism at bay. Eckstein also helped establishing a local society of the German Democratic Party, an adult education centre, a community club, and a society for literature and music. In addition to that, Eckstein was active in the Protestant church.

Until their deaths in 1923 and 1926 Eckstein cared for her disabled sister Toni and her mother, respectively.

Eckstein stayed in Switzerland from March to September 1933, after which not much is known about her life. She died on 16 October 1947 at her home in Coburg.


The city of Coburg honoured Eckstein and her accomplishments by naming a green space after her in 1987.[8]

In 2013 a primary school in Meeder was renamed to Anna-B.-Eckstein-Schule.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Digitale Bibliothek - Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum". (in German). Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  2. ^ Rainer Lutz (12 June 2018), "Miss Eckstein aus Coburg und ihr Traum von Frieden", Coburger Tageblatt
  3. ^ a b Lammel, Wolfgang. "Vision Weltfrieden: Die Pazifistin Anna B. Eckstein | Sonntagsblatt - 360 Grad evangelisch". Sonntagsblatt (in German). Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  4. ^ a b Ted Gottfried (2006), The Fight for Peace: A History of Antiwar Movements in America, Twenty-First Century Books, p. 73, ISBN 9780761329329
  5. ^ "Nomination Archive". Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  6. ^ "Nahe am Nobelpreis – Region Coburg". 2013-12-26. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  7. ^ Eckstein, Anna Bernhardine (1919). Staatenschutzvertrag zur Sicherung des Weltfriedens. München: Duncker & Humblot. ISBN 978-3-428-16274-1.
  8. ^ Sandner, Harald (2002). Coburg im 20. Jahrhundert. Die Chronik über die Stadt Coburg und das Haus Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha vom 1. Januar 1900 bis zum 31. Dezember 1999 - von der "guten alten Zeit" bis zur Schwelle des 21. Jahrhunderts. Gegen das Vergessen. Coburg: Verlagsanstalt Neue Presse. p. 323. ISBN 3000067329. OCLC 643381875.