When the Peace Palace opened its doors on August 28, 1913, the openings ceremony was attended by approximately 500 guests from different corners of the world. Have you ever been curious to find out who was there that day, what they wore, what music was played during the ceremony? We will take a close look at the events on that historical day and share with you the amazing footage of some of the most prominent guests in attendance.
Around 1.30 hours in the afternoon, the guests entered the Great Hall of Justice. Most guests wore elaborate uniforms including chest decorations, medals and ribbons. The ladies wore formal dresses, mostly silk and satin with lots of lace, jewelry and hats with many feathers. The ceremony commenced at 2.30 pm in the presence of Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Mother Emma and the prince consort Hendrik. As they entered the Great Hall of Justice, the Dutch National Anthem was sung by the Averkamp a-cappella choir from Amsterdam. During the ceremony, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs commemorated Tobias Asser who passed away a month earlier. An important moment was the official handing over ceremony of the key of the Peace Palace from the chairman of the Carnegie Foundation to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs who was also the chairman of the Administrative Council of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The ceremony was in essence a formal one, but surprisingly there was room for a few spontaneous moments. These arose each time Andrew Carnegie was praised for contributing 1.5 million dollars for a ‘Peace Temple’ to be built. Suddenly, a thunderous applause would erupt from the audience which made many newspapers from this time conclude that Carnegie was the hero of that day. Other prominent guests in attendance were Louis Cordonnier, the architect of the Peace Palace, Léon Bourgeois, Baron d’Estournelles de Constant , Professor Renault who were all members of the new Permanent Court of Arbitration and Nobel Peace Laureate Bertha von Suttner. Aside from the Dutch National Anthem, other musical pieces that were played during the ceremony were ‘Palestrina’s Exaudi Domine’, ‘Psalm 138’ and ‘Jubilate Deo’.
After the ceremony was over, guests were invited to visit the other rooms and halls in the Peace Palace and went for a walk in the gardens. In the evening, a formal dinner was organized in the Knights Hall (De Ridderzaal) that lasted for seven hours. Guest of honor was Andrew Carnegie who was seated in between the Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of the Interior. A string orchestra softly played throughout the night. The following day on August 29 , from 3.30 pm until 6 pm, the Peace Public was open for the public and a garden party was held where women were allowed to join in on the festivities.
Read here the translation (by I. Kost) of the German description of the official video recording that was made that day.
- Scenery: introductory images, following the title, show the front of the Peace Palace.
- They are followed by a view from the main front of the building to the main square and the driveway, where the crowd of spectators is waiting for the arrival of the guests.
- Arrival of the guests
- The first view shows an open motorcar driving up to the main entrance. A man in uniform gets out, probably Jhr. Dr. Elias, member of the Dutch Council of State.
- The camera captures in a flow of quickly changing images the arrival at the main entrance of other guests, invited for the opening ceremony. The next person to arrive is the Chief of Staff of the Dutch Army, accompanied by military personnel. Then comes, with overcoat and top hat and a full beard, Mr. Leon Bourgeois, Representing France, who headed the French delegation at the Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907.
- Immediately after him follows Bertha von Suttner, accompanied by (on her left side) Baron de Neufville, board member of her Bern Peace office.
- Mrs von Suttner is welcomed by the Dutch Baron Michiels van Verduynen (without overcoat and hat, with white hair and a beard), the General Secretary of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
- After Mrs von Suttner has entered the building, Verduynen and Bourgeois stand at the right in the foreground of the picture, talking to each other and watching the arrival of the other guests.
- From the people captured by the camera, the following persons could be identified: R.J.H.Patijn (“secretaris-penningmeester” of the Carnegie-Foundation); he can be seen before the main entrance in the official dress of a member of the House of Representatives of the States- General with bicorn and sword.
- Next to appear in full diplomatic uniform is Jhr. Mr de Marees van Swinderen, Dutch Foreign Minister; at his right visible in the background is Baron Snouckaert van Schauburg, member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The next image shows a white-bearded man in diplomatic uniform, turning to the camera, with a broad sash, with sword and a white paper in his right hand, the former Dutch Prime Minister W.P.A. Cort van der Linden.
- The man, who lifts his hat towards the camera, in one of the next images, before entering the building, is Dr. de Louter, Professor of International Law at the University of Utrecht.
- Andrew Carnegie and his wife
- Andrew Carnegie arrives in the company of his wife and the American ambassador (with top hat, at right in the background). Carnegie wears tailcoat, with a broad sash with the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau .
- He is lively and joyously greeted at the main entrance and poses friendly before the camera.
- The arrival of the Queen of the Netherlands
- The four-wheeled horse drawn carriage with the royal family arrives at the main entrance. The prince consort, Prince Hendrik is the first to alight from the coach in Admiral Uniform. He is followed by Queen Mother Emma. At last Queen Wilhelmina ascends swiftly the stairs and, followed by the queen-mother Emma and prince consort Hendrik, enters the building.
- The gardens of the Peace Palace.
- The camera shows in a long sweep part of the gardens next to the Peace Palace. A typical loose pauze image. You would expect now a view of the people, gathered for the festivities inside the building. Those images were unthinkable at that time. First the camera-crew was not permitted entrance anyway and furthermore technically it would not have been possible to film inside in a satisfactory way.
- Departure of the guests
- The camera finally catches a few glimpses of the festivities, especially of the departure of the royal family at the end of the ceremonial opening of the new Peace Palace.
This video can be viewed in the Visitors Centre of the Peace Palace and is now available via our YouTube Channel.
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Eyffinger, A.C.G.M., The Peace Palace: Residence for Justice, Domicile of Learning, The Hague, Carnegie Foundation, 1988.
- Eyffinger, A.C.G.M., The Trusteeship of an Ideal: The Carnegie Foundation, Vignettes of a Century, Amsterdam, Enschedé, 2004.
- Hebly, A. and C. Boekraad, A New Home for the Study of International Law, The Hague, ABRI Publishers, 2008.
- Joor, J. en H.M. Verrijn Stuart, Bouwen aan vrede: honderd jaar werken aan vrede door recht: het Vredespaleis, 1913-2013, ‘s-Gravenhage, Carnegie-Stichting, 2013.
- Joor, J. et H.M. Verrijn Stuart, La construction de la paix: une action séculaire au service de la paix par le droit: le Palais de la Paix, 1913-2013, La Haye, Fondation Carnegie, 2013.
- Joor, J. and H.M., Verrijn Stuart, The Building of Peace: A Hundred Years of Work on Peace through Law: the Peace Palace, 1913-2013, The Hague, Carnegie Foundation, 2013.
- Kerkvliet, G.C.H., The Peace Palace: A Living Institution of International Law, The Hague, Carnegie Foundation, 2005.