The Hague is without doubt considered today as the legal capital of the world, the city of peace and justice. The question why, seems to be obvious. The Hague is the seat of many international courts – the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. If one digs deeper into history one finds out that one of the invisible men to whom the city owes its today's prestigious position is Jan Bloch. In 1899 Tsar Nicolas II initiated the first peace conference which resulted in creation of International Court of Arbitration – the first instrument of modern time for peaceful resolution of the conflicts between the states. A person who inspired and persuaded tsar to call this conference was Jan Bloch, rich industrialist from Warsaw, author of the monumental work "The Future of War". In May 1899, shortly before the opening of the Peace Conference, the Dutch ambassador reported to the minister in the Hague that in St. Petersburg Bloch was called 'the father of the conference'. Indeed his dedication in calling the conference and his activity during it were invaluable and deserve more recognition. Unfortunately his merits are virtually unknown today. During the conference Jan Bloch gave four lectures in Diligentia Theatre, where he expounded his views on the nature of future war, which in his opinion would be suicidal. Evidently, he convinced his audience, as the conference resulted in signing several war conventions, among them one which prohibited the use of chemical gases. In view of the above, the choice of Polish Embassy in the Hague as the place to host seminar on Jan Bloch and launch of the English version of the book "Jan Bloch – Capitalist, pacifist, philanthropist" seems the most appropriate. Particularly, that the embassy is located just a few blocks from the Diligentia Theatre.
The Seminar took place in the afternoon on June 11th, 2015. There were about forty participants. The initiative for the seminar came from Peter van den Dungen, professor at the Bradford University and coordinator of the International Network of Museums for Peace, but as mentioned, this was also the official launch of the English version of the book "Jan Bloch – Capitalist, pacifist, philanthropist", group work edited by Andrzej Żor. The book, which was strongly supported by Mr Krzysztof Szwarc, the president of Jan Bloch foundation, was sponsored by the foundation. The seminar was open by Polish ambassador, dr Jan Borkowski, who shortly presented the achievement of Jan Bloch. Then Mrs Joanna Grzechnik, the translator of the book and daughter of Mr Andrzej Żor, on behalf of her father, expanded further on Bloch' s life and achievements. The next speaker was dr Piotr Szlanta from the Historical Institute of University of Warsaw, who talked about the pacifist movement and museums for peace, particularly the Peace Museum in Luzern founded by Jan Bloch. Then Anna Siwek spoke on behalf of her father Mr Szwarc, the president of Bloch foundation, about the work and goals of foundation. Prof Peter van den Dungen, who was the moderator of this seminar, gave the speech on Bloch's involvement in the first Hague Peace Conference emphasizing that Bloch's role was not sufficiently acknowledged in the city. The Q&A session which followed reflected the great interest in Bloch, his life and peace movement in general, particularly considering the present situation in Europe. All participants were given a free copy of the book.