Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914)


Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914)

Bertha Sophia Felicita von Suttner was a 19th Century author and peace activist from Austria. Her most famous work, the anti-war novel titled  'Die Waffen Nieder' (Lay Down Your Arms), became an international bestseller and was published in all the major world languages of the time. Upon the success of her novel, Bertha von Suttner quickly rose to prominence within the international peace movement that was gaining ground in Europe and in the United States of America. She founded the Austrian Peace Society, contributed to the establishment of many other pacifist organizations throughout Europe and founded a peace journal, Die Waffen Nieder, which was later succeeded by the journal Die Friedens-Warte.

In 1905, she became the first women in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition to these accomplishments, she also played a significant role in helping the Peace Palace come in to existence. During the first Hague Peace Conference in 1899, she spent a period of three months in The Hague to be in close range of the Conference. She was the only woman to attend the opening of the Conference. She organized a Salon in the Kurhaus Hotel where she received many official delegates to discuss and influence the ongoing developments. In 1913, she returned to The Hague to attend the official opening of the Peace Palace. She died 10 months later, on June 21, 1914, just three weeks before the outbreak of World War I.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Bertha von Suttner. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library’s subject heading (keyword) Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) is instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.


Reference works

Books by Bertha von Suttner



  • Simone, P., "Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914)", in The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 1142-1146.



  • "Bertha von Suttner: Bibliographic Notes", in Report on the Symposium on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize Award to Bertha von Suttner, organized by the Embassies of Austria, Norway and Sweden in cooperation with the Carnegie Foundation in the Peace Palace on 18 April 2005, The Hague, Embassy of Austria, 2005, pp. 44-48.

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  • Stiehm, J.H., Champions for Peace: Women Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Lanham, Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

    Stiehm, J.H., Champions for Peace: Women Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Lanham, Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

    Only fifteen women have won the Nobel Prize for Peace since it was first awarded in 1901. Hailing from all over the world, some of these women have held graduate degrees, while others barely had access to education. Some began their work young, some late in life. In this compelling book, Judith Stiehm narrates these women’s varied lives in fascinating detail. The second edition includes the stories of three additional outstanding women—Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman—who were honored in 2011 with the Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Engaged and inspiring, all these women clearly demonstrate that there is something each of us can do to advance a just, positive peace. Whether they began by insisting on garbage collection or simply by planting a tree, each understood that peace must be global in order to be sustained. All learned that peace is not always popular, but believed they must persevere. They shared a common vision and commitment undiminished by obstacles and opposition. As Judith Stiehm convincingly shows, all are truly "champions for peace."

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  • Eyffinger, A.C.G.M., "The Stars of Eternal Truth and Right": Bertha von Suttner's Campaigning for Peace, Social Justice, and Womanhood, Oisterwijk, Wolf Legal Publishers, 2013.

    Eyffinger, A.C.G.M., "The Stars of Eternal Truth and Right": Bertha von Suttner's Campaigning for Peace, Social Justice, and Womanhood, Oisterwijk, Wolf Legal Publishers, 2013.

    New publication by Arthur Eyffinger. A mere three words established her lasting repute worldwide: Die Waffen nieder! The catchwords remained a pious wish to the present day, but they bespoke the astounding woman Bertha von Suttner was: intrepid, recalcitrant, forthright and spellbinding. Bertha was the type of woman the Belle Époque needed to turn the destiny of womanhood around. Enthused with the ideas of human progress, liberalism and individualism ‘Peace Bertha’, or ‘Red Bertha’, or ‘Jew-Bertha’ campaigned passionately against social injustice or relapse in whatever shape it presented itself, be this overt militarism, rigid conservatism, the oppression of women, or anti-Semitism. The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 were the undisputable highlights of Bertha’s long career as an engaged peace activist. To her, the Opening of the Peace Palace in 1913 was a dream come true. This publication focuses on Bertha’s tenets and aspirations with regard to the emerging International Tradition in The Hague. It does so by giving her the floor. The substance of this book captures the gist of her views and ideals by way of hundreds of citations gathered from her Memoirs, Diaries and Correspondence, and handpicked from the tracts, novels and papers that constitute the rich yield of her unstoppable scholarly, literary and journalistic endeavours. The sum total is a fascinating portrait of an intriguing woman and public figure, a steadfast advocate of Women’s Lib and the Cassandra of Peace on the eve of the Guns of August.

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  • Belentschikow, V., Bertha von Suttner und Russland, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2012.

    Belentschikow, V., Bertha von Suttner und Russland, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2012.

    Im Buch werden erstmals die Beziehungen der Pazifistin Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) zu Russland analysiert. Ihr Roman Die Waffen nieder! beeinflusste die Entstehung antimilitaristischer Stimmungen in Russland. Sie unterhielt Kontakte zu mehr als 50 Vertretern der geistigen und politischen Elite Russlands und förderte die Verbreitung der in Russland verbotenen Werke Tolstojs in Westeuropa. An umfangreichem Material werden Suttners Anteil an der Vorbereitung und Durchführung der Haager Friedenskonferenz 1899 und ihr enger Kontakt mit russischen Diplomaten illustriert. Erstmals werden ihre Bemühungen um die Gründung von Friedensgesellschaften in Russland am Ende des 19. Jahrhundert behandelt. Das Buch enthält bisher unveröffentlichte Materialien und ein vollständiges Namenverzeichnis.

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  • Simensen, A.S., Kvinnen bak fredsprisen: Historien om Bertha von Suttner og Alfred Nobel, Oslo, Cappelen Damm, 2012.

    Simensen, A.S., Kvinnen bak fredsprisen: Historien om Bertha von Suttner og Alfred Nobel, Oslo, Cappelen Damm, 2012.

    Bertha von Suttner var en ledende skikkelse i fredsbevegelsen på 1800-tallet, mens Alfred Nobel tjente en formue på oppfinnelsen av dynamitt. Etter deres møter og gjennom deres vennskap, fører han Fredsprisen inn i sitt testamente. Anne Synnøve Simensen har skrevet en spennende, gripende og lærerik beretning, som kommer til å sette fredsprisen i et nytt lys - hvor kvinnen bak prisen omsider får sin rettmessige plass.

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  • Heffermehl, F.S., The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted, Santa Barbara, Praeger, 2010.

    The Nobel Peace Prize is the world's most coveted award, galvanizing the world's attention for 110 years. In recent decades, it has also become the world's most reviled award, as heads of militarized states and out-and-out warmongers and terrorists have been showered with peace prizes. Delving into previously unpublished primary sources, Fredrik Heffermehl reveals the history of the inner workings of the Norwegian Nobel Committee as it has come under increasing political, geopolitical, and commercial pressures to make inappropriate awards. As a Norwegian lawyer, Heffermehl makes the case that the Norwegian politicians entrusted with the Nobel peace awards have brushed aside the legal requirements in Scandinavian estate law using the prize to promote their own political and personal interests instead of the peace ideas Alfred Nobel had in mind. Evaluating each of the 119 Nobel Peace Prizes awarded between 1901 and 2009, the author tracks the ever-widening divergence of the committee's selections from Nobel's intentions and concludes that all but one of the last ten prizes are illegitimate under the law.

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  • Biedermann, E. (Herausgeg.), Chère baronne et amie, cher monsieur et ami: der Briefwechsel zwischen Alfred Nobel und Bertha von Suttner, Hildesheim, Olms, 2001.

    •Biedermann, E. (Herausgeg.), Chère baronne et amie, cher monsieur et ami: der Briefwechsel zwischen Alfred Nobel und Bertha von Suttner, Hildesheim, Olms, 2001.

    Der Friedensnobelpreis lenkt alljahrlich die Aufmerksamkeit auf den Industriellen Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) und die Schriftstellerin Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914). Uber die Beziehungen zwischen dem Stifter der Preise und der Friedenskampferin wird oft geschrieben und viel vermutet, angeregt nicht zuletzt dadurch, das Bertha von Suttner 1875, damals Grafin Kinsky, eine Stelle als Sekretarin und Hausdame bei Alfred Nobel antrat, die nach wenigen Tagen schon wieder endete. Tatsachlich is wenig belegt. An authentischen Dokumenten existiert jedoch ein Briefwechsel von 1833 bis zu Nobels Tod, der bisher nur bruchstuckweise bekannt war.

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  • Hamann, B., Bertha von Suttner: ein Leben für den Frieden, München, Piper, 1986.

    Hamann, B., Bertha von Suttner: ein Leben für den Frieden, München, Piper, 1986.

    Austrian writer and peace activist Bertha von Suttner was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. As founder of the Austrian and German Peace Associations and the author of a number of novels and several works on peace, von Suttner's name became synonymous worldwide with peace activism and protest against old world order. Ironically, her death eight days before the outbreak of World War I was seen by her contemporaries as a symbolic end of the possibility for world peace. In Bertha von Suttner, Brigitte Hamann has written the most comprehensive biography of the celebrated journalist tracing not only von Suttner's life and work but spanning the political and social frontier of Austria on the eve of World War I. Von Suttner's novel Die Waffen Nieder! (Lay Down Your Arms!), published in 1899, was a bestseller and brought her international acclaim. Indeed, Tolstoy compared her technique of rallying readers to her cause to that of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom's Cabin for the emancipation of American slaves. Her lectures on peace and disarmament took her throughout Europe and the United States, where she formed close friendships with Andrew Carnegie, Alfred Nobel, Theodor Herzl, and Albert I of Monaco. As her conviction to initiate peace movements deepened, so her books became more impassioned. Her dictum, "universal sisterhood is necessary before the universal brotherhood is possible, " demonstrated that her concerns extended beyond the peace movement to include women's issues and many social causes, making von Suttner's work quite relevant at the close of the twentieth century.

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  • The Gerritsen Collection

    The Gerritsen Collection is a comprehensive collection of works pertaining to women’s history, but it also contains a plentitude of books, articles and essays relevant to peace history and the development of international law. The collection honors the legacy of famous peace heroes and feminists. To help educate the public about the 19th century peace movement, the Library – with the assistance from the Bertha von Suttner Project – has subscribed to this database for 2015.

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  • Forward Into Light: Bertha von Suttner Master Class 2015

    The Forward Into Light: 2015 Bertha von Suttner Master Class was held in the Japanese Room of the Peace Palace from June 16th to 18th. It included a public lecture on June 16th in the Great Hall of Justice. The second annual Master Class was a part of the Bertha von Suttner commemorative week to honor her life, to learn from her legacy, and to consider how her philosophy has shaped the development of international law. The Master Class was a collaborative effort amongst the Bertha von Suttner Project, the Peace Palace Library, the Carnegie Foundation of the Netherlands and Central Michigan University.

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  • Dr. Aletta Jacobs: Working for World Peace

    This Saturday, on April 25, 2015, the Carnegie Foundation holds a special event that aims to enhance the visibility of women in the Peace Palace. Two years ago, during the centenary of the Peace Palace, Bertha von Suttner was the first women to be honored with a bust in the Great Hall. This year, we celebrate the Centenary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and to mark this occasion, a new statue will be unveiled, that of Doctor Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs. With this bust, we turn the spotlight on Dr. Aletta Jacobs and her work for world peace.

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  • Iconography of Bertha von Suttner

    Baroness Bertha von Suttner, the Austrian 1905 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, has been an icon since the enormous success of her book “Lay down your arms”, published in 1889. As her fame grew internationally, she turned into a “modern day celebrity”. Stamps and coins bear her image, streets, schools and squares are named after her. Films and books about her life are mementos for her achievements. Here we present some images of Bertha von Suttner, showing her change from an Austrian countess, dressed for a ball in Viennese aristocratic circles to the formidable warrior for peace, the lady in the long black dress. Her face mirrors the struggles , the battles she fought to promote her ideals.

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  • Commemorative Lecture Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914), Tuesday, June 24th, 2014, Peace Palace

    This month marks the centenary of the death of Bertha von Suttner, the Austrian peace activist, bestselling author of ‘Die Waffen Nieder’ and the first female recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. To attend this lecture, please register.

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  • A Moment Back In Time: Video Footage of the Official Opening in 1913 and the Events of that Historical Day

    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.

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  • Centennial Celebration: Peace Palace 100 Years Today!

    The official commemoration ceremony of the Peace Palace Centennial will take place this morning. On this very day, it will be exactly 100 years ago that the Peace Palace was inaugurated with a solemn ceremony. International guests are invited to the ceremony. The commeration involves the presentation of the official book ‘100 Years Peace Palace’ about the present role and significance of the Peace Palace. Afterwards a buste of the pacifiste Bertha von Suttner will be unveiled in the main hall of the Peace Palace.

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