von Suttner (born Countess Bertha Kinsky) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905
- she was the first woman to receive it, and also the inspiration for the creation
of the Nobel Prize. She met Alfred Nobel, a rich millionaire who developed dynamite,
by answering his newspaper ad for a secretary. Although she only worked for him
for a few weeks to elope with Baron von Suttner, she remained good friends with
Alfred Nobel for the next 20 years. When she became involved the peace movement
in Europe, she promised to keep Nobel updated on its progress. When Alfred Nobel
died in 1896, his will included the establishment of a peace prize, thanks to
Bertha von Suttner's influence. Bertha von Suttner was born a Countess in an aristocratic
military family, but she spent the second half of her life working for peace.
She wrote books, attended peace conferences, gave lectures and helped organize
peace societies in Austria, Germany and Hungary, as well as the International
Peace Bureau in Switzerland. Her 1891 novel, Lay Down Your Arms, was one
of the most influential anti-war books of all time, and helped to make her a leader
of the peace movement in Europe. Bertha von Suttner worked so hard for peace because
she believed that a terrible war would break out in Europe if nations didn't work
hard to establish lasting peace institutions. She made many major accomplishments
for a more peaceful world, but two months after she died, World War I broke out.
A hundred years after she won the Nobel Peace Prize, nations still seem to view
war as an option to work out their problems. But like Bertha von Suttner did,
many today are working hard around the world to help strengthen peace institutions
and spread the idea that it is time to put an end to war.