Baroness Bertha von Suttner
It is all the more remarkable that Baroness von Suttner won an international reputation at the beginning of the twentieth century. On a lecture tour of the United States in 1904 she was even received at the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Not the least of her achievements was her break with the military and aristocratic traditions of her family, first by deciding to earn her living as a governess and later by writing the anti-war novel Die Waffen Nieder (“Lay Down Your Arms”), which brought her into the peace movement. Eloping with the brother of the young ladies she was tutoring and going off with him to the Caucasus to become a writer was also not quite what a well-bred countess was expected to do.
The Baroness was not able to come to Norway when her prize was announced in 1905 on the traditional day, December 10, and there was no presentation speech. The following April, she was introduced by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson who spoke of her “real influence on the growth of the peace movement and how in one of the most militaristic countries of Europe she had continued to cry, “Down with arms.” Although laughed at first, her words received a hearing because they were uttered by a person of noble character and because they proclaimed humanity’s greatest cause.