Bertha von Suttner wins the Nobel Peace Prize: 18 April 1906

On 18 April 1906, Baroness Bertha von Suttner becomes the first woman to collect the Nobel Peace Prize. She had been instrumental in Albert Nobel creating a prize for peace at all.

Von Suttner was an international leader in the peace movement, and continued to campaign until her death, a few weeks before Franz Ferdinand’s assassination triggered the first World War she had sought to prevent.

Born as the Countess Kinsky in Prague, she married Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner and became a writer, exploring the idea of what a society could create if it could achieve peace. In the 1880s, they became aware of the International Arbitration and Peace Association and other European organizations who were making the case for arbitration and peace in place of armed force.

sketch of Bertha von Suttner from the 1890s
Sketch of von Suttner in the 1890s

Von Suttner wrote both a non-fiction book, Das Maschinenzeitalter (The Machine Age) and a fictional novel of the impact of war on women, Die Waffen Nieder (Lay Down Your Arms). Both were published in 1889. Die Waffen Nieder was based on research and was translated into 12 languages.

Overnight, von Suttner became one of the international leaders of the peace movement. By the 1890s, she was corresponding with Albert Nobel on her work, and he told her he was considering adding a Peace Prize to the others he was planning to create in his will.

She pushed for an International Court of Justice, where conflict could be resolved through arbitration. She attended the first Hague peace conference in 1899, which agreed to setting up a Permanent Court of Arbitration. This was established in 1900, began operating in 1902 and is still in operation. It is co-located with the International Court of Justice in the Peace Palace in Hague.

  • Follow us on Twitter to get daily posts about the women who made – and are making – history every day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *