Baronka Bertha Sophia Felicita Freifrau von Suttner
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Peace Monuments for Baroness Bertha von Suttner


    Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner (Baroness Bertha von Suttner) [1843-1914] was an Austrian novelist, radical (organizational) pacifist & the first woman to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

    See summary biographies at the end of this web page. | Click here for Alfred Hermann Fried. | Click here for international peace conferences.

June 9, 1843 - Born in Prague, Bohemia, the daughter of an impoverished Austrian Field Marshal, Franz-Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, and wife Sophie von Körner, and governess to the wealthy Suttner family from 1873. She had an older brother, Arthur Franz Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau.

"Franz Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau was born on 6 December 1739 in Prague; he entered Austrian military service in 1759 and by 1769 was Oberst and CO of an infantry regiment. He raised a cadet school in his regiment at his own expense. This was the first institution of its type in the Austrian army. On 1 May 1773, he was promoted to Generalmajor and on 19 March 1785 to Feldmarschalleutnant. In the War of the Bavarian Succession in 1778 he commanded a column in the raid on Habelschwerdt. In 1779, count Kinsky became Colonel-Proprietor of the Infantry Regiment N°47 and was then appointed Director of the Wiener Neustadt Military Academy, a post which he hold until his death. In early 1794, he commanded an infantry division of the brigades of Heister and Mittrowsky, under Sachsen-Coburg in the Netherlands. That year Kinsky received his promotion to Feldzeugmeister. In 1805 he fell ill and died in Vienna, on 9 June. "

After her father died her guardian was her father's best friend Landgraf Friedrich Michael von Fürstenberg-Weitra......She used to spend time with her cousin Count Christian Kinsky and his wife Therese, Countess Wrbna at castle Matzen...Apart from that she had companion in her mother's niece Elvira whose father also died and her guardian was again her father's best friend Count Huyn... She with her cousin had a first "crush" on Friedrich von Hadeln...

Before her marriage Countess Berha Kinsky had several options for marriage...When she was 13 she was proposed by Prince Philipp zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg but her mother declined due to her young age...After that she was engaged to an old milllionair but couldn't do it and returned his gifts and broke off her engagement...after that she was proposed by an elderly Napolitanian Prince who was chief steward of Queen Maria of Naples, but she declined due to his age (he already had twenty-five-year-old son)...Countess Bertha was a close friend of Princess Ekaterina Dadiani, Princess of Mingrelia and through her she met her cousin Prince Heraclius Bagration, son of the last King of Georgia,but that became more or less just a summer crush and after he was engaged with Princess Tamara Chavchavadze...after that she was proposed by a fraud, false millionair...She was finally happy when she met her REAL PRINCE and they became engaged...His name was Prince Adolf zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein [bottom image]...they shared passion for music and he had some arrangements in New York...they postponed their wedding after his trip,but while traveling to US Prince Adolf died and was burried at sea...


1873 - At age 30, hired by Baron Karl von Suttner as governess to his four daughters. She meets the Baron's 23-year old son, Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner [1850-1902], they fall in love and wish to marry, but both families oppose the match, and Bertha is forced to find other work.

SUMMARY BIOGRAPHY FROM WICKIPEDIA

Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner (Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Gräfin (Countess) Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau), 9 June 1843 - 21 June 1914, was an Austrian novelist, radical (organizational) pacifist, and the first woman to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

She was born in Prague, Bohemia, the daughter of an impoverished Austrian Field Marshal, Franz-Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau, and wife Sophie von Körner, and governess to the wealthy Suttner family from 1873. She had an older brother, Arthur Franz Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. She became engaged to engineer and novelist Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner (who died on December 10, 1902), but his 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 after her book, from 1892 to 1899. Her pacifism was influenced by the writings of Henry Thomas 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.

SUMMARY BIOGRAPHY FROM SWARTHMORE COLLEGE PEACE COLLECTION

Bertha von Suttner was born Bertha Sophia Felicita Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau in 1843 in Prague. Her father was Count Franz Joseph Kinsky, a field marshall and chamberlain to Austria's Emperor Franz Joseph I, who died shortly before Bertha was born. Though the family was impoverished, she was well-read, educated at home by governesses, proficient in languages, was taught the social graces, an exceptional pianist, and studied voice in Paris, Baden-Baden and Milan.

However, by the time she was in her early 30s, Bertha decided to find a job to support herself and she was hired in 1873 by Baron Karl von Suttner as governess to his four daughters. It was there that she met the Baron's son, Arthur Gundaccar. They fell in love and wished to marry, but both families opposed it, and Bertha was forced to find other work. She answered an advertisement from Alfred Nobel in Paris, who, in the autumn of 1875, was looking for a secretary and manager of his household. Nobel was a multi-millionaire from his discovery and manufacture of dynamite, but he was also a humanitarian who promoted many good causes.

Suttner's position with Nobel lasted less than two weeks as she decided that she could not live without Arthur. They were married secretly on June 12, 1876 and moved to the Caucasus. Over the next years they eked out a living at various jobs, at the same time enriching their intellectual life by reading widely in science, philosophy and history. During this time the Suttners wrote and had published six novels, as well as a number of articles. In 1885, Arthur and Bertha were reconciled with his family and were offered a permanent suite in the von Suttner castle in Vienna.

It was during a visit to Paris in 1887, that Bertha learned for the first time of the International Peace and Arbitration Association, based in London, whose goal was the establishment of an international court of arbitration. She promptly joined the Association and became its leading spokesperson. In the hopes of reaching a wider audience, she researched the war, talking to army surgeons, field officers and others who graphically described the grim realities of war. She used this material in her 1891 novel Lay Down Your Arms. It's definite anti-war flavor shocked her contemporaries, but it also received wide popular acclaim in many countries. Bertha published a manifesto in 1891 which attracted the attention of many peace sympathizers, and led to the formation of the Austrian Peace Society. She also helped establish the German Peace Association, the International Peace Bureau in Geneva in 1893, and the Hungarian Peace Society in 1896. She is credited with being the first woman political journalist in the German language. Also, in 1899 she held a salon in conjunction with the First Hague Peace Conference (Netherlands), in which she and other peace advocates convinced delegates to make establishing a structure for resolving international conflict their primary concern. This was the first known international lobby effort for peace that was effective.

Through the years, Bertha corresponded with and visited Alfred Nobel. She urged him to prove his support for her goals by establishing a prize for peace. This led to his endowment in his will for prizes to be given each year for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine and physiology, literature, and for work toward peace. Bertha was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.

Bertha von Suttner
died on June 21,1914, one week before the first world war broke out.

FROM ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD BIOGRPHY

Austrian writer and activist Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) became a leading figure in peace activism at the turn of the twentieth century with the publication of her anti-war novel, Lay Down Your Arms. She continued her efforts as a public speaker and played a key role in the formation of the first Hague Peace Conference and the Nobel Peace Prize. For her efforts in the peace movement, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.

Bertha von Suttner was a leading figure in the growing peace movement at the end of the nineteenth century in Europe. Suttner used her literary talents to produce the 1889 political novel Die Waffen nieder, or Lay DownYour Arms; a call for disarmament, the book became a best-seller and was translated into a number of languages. The activist also promoted world peace by helping to organize the first Hague PeaceConference and encouraging her friend, Alfred Nobel, to create the internationally respected Nobel Peace Prize. Her many activities helped to remove the labels of "utopians" and unrealistic "idealists" from those involved in peace activism by gaining the support of respected world leaders and intellectuals for the movement.

Suttner was born as the Countess Bertha Kinsky on June 9, 1843. An only child, she came from a noble military family of Prague in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her father, Count Joseph Kinsky, was a field marshal who died before her birth. Her mother, a relative of the poet Joseph von Korner, was left with a modest income after the death of her husband, and the limited funds were strained even further by her compulsive gambling at the fashionable casinos of Europe. She did find money, however, to provide her daughter with governesses, who instructed her in French and English, as well as singing lessons. As a teenager, Suttner had dreams of becoming an opera singer, but after a while, she realized that her voice was not adequate for such a career. She instead turned to academics, reading the works of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato and the German scientist Alexander von Humbolt by the time she was 16. She also taught herself Italian. She enjoyed a reputation as a great beauty, and supposedly her hand was sought in marriage by a prince when she was only 13. But she remained fairly isolated, with few companions other than her mother, well into her adult years.

Because of her mother's financial situation, Suttner was finally obliged to seek employment to support herself. At the age of 30 she became a governess in the home of the Baron and Baroness von Suttner. Their 23-year-old son, Arthur, was soon attracted to the older woman, and the two fell in love. Although the young man's sisters were very pleased by the romance, his mother was not. Upon discovering her son's attachment to Suttner, she found a new position for the governess in the distant city of Paris. There Suttner became the secretary and housekeeper for Alfred Nobel, the Swedish scientist who had invented dynamite. Only a week after she arrived in Paris, Nobel left for a trip to Sweden at the request of the king of that country; Suttner was also called out of town. During this time she received a telegram from Arthur von Suttner asking her to marry him. They met in Vienna and were secretly married before departing for a honeymoon in the Caucasus region of Russia.

Estranged from her husband's family, the couple stayed for nine years in the Caucasus, remaining as guests and employees of a friend who was a prince of the region. Suttner served as an instructor in music and languages, while her husband worked as an architect. They both were also welcomed as peers at the prince's social events, where they fraternized with the local aristocracy. Her husband eventually began to write articles that were successfully published in Austrian newspapers. Inspired by his success, Suttner also began to write and was encouraged when she published her first essay under a pseudonym. She soon attempted a longer work, and in 1883 published her first novel, Inventarium einer Seele, or Inventory of a Soul, which drew notice in literary circles. The couple decided that they would be able to make a living as writers and returned to Austria in May of 1885. There they joined the von Suttner family, who had forgiven them for their marriage.

Suttner continued to produce acclaimed works, including Daniela Dormes in 1886 and Das Maschinenzeitalter: Zukunftsvorlesungen uber unsere Zeit in 1889. Her books were distinguished by both moral views and an interest in scientific and philosophical ideas. In fact, sensing that the scientific themes of Das Maschinenzeitalter would not be taken seriously if published under a woman's name at that time, Suttner released the book under the pseudonym "Jemand," or "anyone." The book did sell well and provided Suttner and her husband with enough money to move to Paris.

In Paris, Suttner was reintroduced to Nobel, who in turn brought her and her husband in contact with members of leading social and intellectual circles. It was shortly after arriving in Paris that the couple learned about the London-based International Peace and Arbitration Society. Suttner was immediately drawn to the goals of the organization and decided to devote all her energies to this cause. She realized that she could use her literary talents to spread the message of peace to many people through a work of fiction and began writing her best-known work, Lay Down Your Arms. The anti-war themes of the book were considered controversial by publishers, and many refused to handle it. When it finally was accepted by a publisher, a number of changes were requested to make the work more socially acceptable. Suttner allowed a number of cuts and rewrites to be made to her manuscript, but she refused to change the title. Upon the book's debut in 1892, it exceeded its publisher's expectations by becoming a best-seller. Suttner received generous praise from a number of luminaries, including Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who compared the work's influence on the peace movement to the impact of American author Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin on the anti-slavery movement.

The book's success brought Suttner into the forefront of the anti-war movement. She was named president of the Austrian Peace Society and with the journalist Alfred Hermann Fried began a popular monthly journal, entitled Lay Down Your Arms, that detailed developments and activities in the peace movement for eight years. She participated in the first Hague Peace Conference, an event that marked a major victory for peace activists. The event was attended by high-ranking officials from countries such as the United States, Britain, and France and gave credibility to the peace efforts that had often been dismissed as unrealistic and naive by critics. Suttner herself was a featured speaker at theconference and was well-received by her admiring audience.

After the death of her husband in 1902, Suttner attempted to overcome her loss by working even harder to spread the message of peace. She continued writing and attended numerous conferences and meetings on the subject. She launched a speaking tour of the United States in 1904, during which she met President Theodore Roosevelt and visited Quaker communities that offered an inspiring example of life devoted to non-violence. She also saw hope for world peace in international developments of the time, such as the British movement to give former colonies Commonwealth status and the changes that seemed likely to follow the death of the aging Austrian emperor. For her efforts to promote the ideals of a peaceful world society, Suttner was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.

Suttner died of stomach cancer on June 21, 1914. Only weeks after her death, the assassination of the heir to the Austrian empire launched World War I, an event that no doubt would have brought great sorrow to the advocate of peace. Despite such a turn of events, Suttner's contributions to the peace movement were not in vain. Her writings and organizational efforts led to a number of success in the struggle for peace, particularly by gaining support for nonviolent ideals among the general public as well as political and intellectual figures. The Hague Peace Conferences and the Nobel Peace Prize have become annual traditions that sustain the hope of peace to which Suttner devoted her life.

NOBEL COMMITTEE BIOGRAPHY

Baroness Bertha Felicie Sophie von Suttner (June 9, 1843-June 21, 1914), born Countess Kinsky in Prague, was the posthumous daughter of a field marshal and the granddaughter, on her mother's side, of a cavalry captain. Raised by her mother under the aegis of a guardian who was a member of the Austrian court, she was the product of an aristocratic society whose militaristic traditions she accepted without question for the first half of her life and vigorously opposed for the last half.

As a girl and young adult, Bertha studied languages and music (at one time aspiring to an operatic career), read voraciously, and enjoyed an active social life enlivened by travel.

At thirty, feeling she could no longer impose on her mother's dwindling funds, she took a position in Vienna as teacher-companion to the four daughters of the Suttner household. Here she met her future husband, the youngest son of the family. In 1876 she left for Paris to become Alfred Nobel's secretary but returned, after only a brief stay, to marry Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner. Because of the Suttners' strong disapproval of the marriage, the young couple left immediately for the Caucasus where for nine years they earned an often precarious living by giving lessons in languages and music and eventually, and more successfully, by writing.

During this period the Baroness produced Es Löwos, a poetic description of their life together; four novels; and her first serious book, Inventarium einer Seele [Inventory of a Soul], in which she took stock of her thoughts and ideas on what she and her husband had been reading together, especially in evolutionist authors such as Darwin and Spencer; included is the concept of a society that would achieve progress though achieving peace.

In 1885, welcomed by the Baron's now relenting family, the Suttners returned to Austria where Bertha von Suttner wrote most of her books, including her many novels. Their life was oriented almost solely toward the literary until, through a friend, they learned about the International Arbitration and Peace Association1 in London and about similar groups on the Continent, organizations that had as an actual working objective what they had now both accepted as an ideal: arbitration and peace in place of armed force. Baroness von Suttner immediately added material on this to her second serious book, Das Maschinenzeitalter [The Machine Age] which, when published early in 1889, was much discussed and reviewed. This book, criticizing many aspects of the times, was among the first to foretell the results of exaggerated nationalism and armaments.

Wanting to «be of service to the Peace League... [by writing] a book which should propagate its ideas»2, Bertha von Suttner went to work at once on a novel whose heroine suffers all the horrors of war; the wars involved were those of the author's own day on which she did careful research. The effect of Die Waffen nieder [Lay Down Your Arms], published late in 1889, was consequently so real and the implied indictment of militarism so telling that the impact made on the reading public was tremendous. And from this time on, its author became an active leader in the peace movement, devoting a great part of her time, her energy, and her writing to the cause of peace - attending peace meetings and international congresses, helping to establish peace groups, recruiting members, lecturing, corresponding with people all over the world to promote peace projects.

In 1891 she helped form a Venetian peace group, initiated the Austrian Peace Society of which she was for a long time the president, attended her first international peace congress, and started the fund needed to establish the Bern Peace Bureau.

In 1892, with A. H. Fried, she initiated the peace journal Die Waffen Nieder, remaining its editor until the end of 1899 when it was replaced by the Friedenswarte (edited by Fried) to which she regularly contributed comments on current events (Randglossen zur Zeitgeschichte) until she died. Also in 1892 she promised Alfred Nobel to keep him informed on the progress of the peace movement and, if possible, to convince him of its effectiveness. No doubt she felt that she was beginning to succeed when she received a letter from him in January of 1893, telling her about a peace prize he hoped to found, one which, after his death in 1896, his will showed he had indeed established 3.

Bertha von Suttner, along with her husband, worked hard to gain support for the Czar's Manifesto and the Hague Peace Conference of 1899, arranging public meetings, forming committees, lecturing. She sent accounts of the Conference itself to the Neue Freie Presse and to other papers, in other countries, and in the following year wrote articles and initiated meetings to popularize the idea of the Permanent Court of Arbitration set up by the Conference.

Although grief-stricken after her husband's death in 1902, she determined to carry on the work which they had so often done together and which he had asked her to continue.

She now left her quiet retirement in Vienna only on peace missions, which often included arduous speaking tours. She continued to write, but only for the cause of peace. By 1905 when she received the Nobel Peace Prize - at a fortuitous time financially - she was widely thought of as sharing the leadership of the peace movement with the venerable Passy. In the years that followed she played a prominent part in the Anglo-German Friendship Committee formed at the 1905 Peace Congress to further Anglo-German conciliation; she warned all who would listen about the dangers of militarizing China and of using the rapidly developing aviation as a military instrument; she contributed lectures, articles, and interviews to the International Club set up at the 1907 Hague Peace Conference to promote the movement's objectives among the Conference delegates and the general public; she spoke at the 1908 Peace Congress in London; and she repeated again and again that «Europe is one» and that uniting it was the only way to prevent the world catastrophe which seemed to be coming.

Her last major effort, made in 1912 when she was almost seventy, was a second lecture tour in the United States, the first having followed her attending the International Peace Congress of 1904 in Boston.

In August of 1913, already affected by beginning illness, the Baroness spoke at the International Peace Congress at The Hague where she was greatly honored as the «generalissimo» of the peace movement. In May of 1914 she was still able to take an interest in preparations being made for the twenty-first Peace Congress, planned for Vienna in September. But her illness - suspected cancer - developed rapidly thereafter, and she died on June 21, 1914, two months before the erupting of the world war she had warned and struggled against.

In accordance with her wishes, she was cremated at Gotha and her ashes left there in the columbarium. The war and its immediate aftermath put an end not only to the plans of the peace movement for the congress in Vienna but to its plans for a monument to Bertha von Suttner.

She was “Jew Bertha” to the anti-Semites, “Red Bertha” to the anti-socialists, “Peace Bertha” to the war mongers, a “woman corrupter” to the catholic church, and to modern biographer Jutta Landa, “she was a woman, campaigning in a man’s world against man’s favorite pastime: war.”

Born in Prague in 1843 as Countess Kinsky, Bertha was to become one of the most famous women of her time, Vienna’s First Lady of Peace on the Eve of the First World War. After more than three decades of obscurity and lackluster performance on Vienna’s social ladder, Bertha’s fallback career as an educator provided the springboard for the purpose, prominence and impact she enjoyed in her later life. As Governess to the daughters of Baron von Suttner, Bertha met the two men who would facilitate the rare influence of this fin de sicle middle-aged woman. It was through the Suttner family that Bertha came to know and work with Alfred Nobel, the genius behind both dynamite and the Nobel Peace Prize. Though Nobel made no secret of his romantic interest, it was the Baron’s son, Arthur Grundaccer von Suttner, who would save Bertha from spinsterhood, accompanying her on journeys as an ex-patriot, a writer and a peace activist.

Baroness Bertha von Suttner penned 30 novels, the most famous of which, Lay Down Your Arms (1889), was published in 37 editions during her lifetime. She also edited a monthly journal of the same name, wrote a monthly column in Die Freidenswarte, and contributed to Die Gesellschaft and Realistische Wochenschrift für Literatur, Kunst und Offentliches Leben. As the founder and president of the Austrian Peace Society, vice president of the Central Bureau of Peace Societies in Bern, initiator of the Hungarian Peace Society, and mother of the First International Peace Conference in The Hague, Bertha was instrumental in laying the foundations for a worldwide Peace infrastructure. The von Suttners also raged against the increasing momentum of anti-Semitism. Bertha’s social criticism, of “people… so happy, when they can denounce a class as inferior, as second-rate creatures” to “gain nobility in their own eyes,” and Arthur’s creation of the “Society for Resistance Against Anti-Semitism” were early acts in the Resistance to the Holocaust. Bertha, with her untiring dedication to the achievement of Peace, earned the admiration of US presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, and Czar Nicolas II, as well as the audience of heads of state and citizens worldwide. Alfred Nobel, Bertha’s earliest and most committed fan, initiated her into the History books as the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1905.

Yet, as the name-calling indicates, turn of the century Vienna was not ready for Bertha’s brand of feminism, and as the era of World War to follow evidences, the world was not yet ripe for her call to peace. Though critics lauded Bertha’s novel Das Machinenzeitalter, believing its anonymous author to be male, Suttner struggled even to publish Lay Down Your Arms, and suffered Vienna’s distain once the anti-war work with its politically savvy female protagonist hit the shelves. As Europe prepared to unleash the violence and destruction of the Twentieth Century’s first widespread war, Bertha’s accomplishes were shrouded in disappointments. Though the First International Peace Conference germinated with Bertha von Suttner’s dedication to Peace, its only female participant was marginalized in its organization by the male government officials who turned it into a despairingly moderate pursuit of more “humane” war. Though Bertha had envisioned A League of Nations, arbitrations and disarmament as necessary fruits of an international peace movement, “Peace Czar” Nicolas II’s cruel suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in 1902 and the outbreak of the Boer War in 1907 were the more immediate consequences of early 20th Century discourse on peace. Perhaps graciously, death spared Bertha from a crowning disappointment, the commencement of World War I with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand a mere seven days after her demise on June 21, 1914.

Only the horrors of the ensuing half century of war, the manifestation of many of Bertha’s fictional prophesies of widespread destruction, would prepare world leaders to take the necessity of peace seriously. Bertha’s real legacy materialized posthumously, in the establishment of a League of Nations, the UN, forums for non-violent dispute resolution, peacekeeping troops and the widespread use of war crime tribunals.






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