Bertha von Suttner


Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner (Baroness Bertha von Suttner), (9 June 1843 in Prague, [then in Austrian Empire] – 21 June 1914 in Vienna, [then in Austria-Hungary]), born as Grafin (Countess) Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, was an Austrian novelist, radical pacifist, and was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Suttner was the daughter of an impoverished Austrian Field Marshal, Franz-Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau (October 12, 1768-January 4, 1843), and wife, married on July 26, 1834, Sophie Korner (January 11, 1815-March 26, 1884), and governess to the wealthy Suttner family from 1873. She had an older brother, Arthur Franz Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau (April 17, 1837-May 29, 1906), who died unmarried and childless.

She became engaged to engineer and novelist Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner (died December 10, 1902), but her 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 June 12, 1876.

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 for her book, from 1892 to 1899. Her pacifism was influenced by the writings of H. T. Buckle, Herbert Spencer, and Charles Darwin. 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. The film Die Waffen nieder by Holger Madsen and Carl Theodor Dreyer was made by Nordisk Films Kompagni in 1914. She is depicted on the Austrian 2 euro coin. She was pictured on the old Austrian 1000 schilling bank note.

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