During over hundred year-long Nobel Prize history, only one Pole had been honoured with this award – Lech Wałęsa. However, he is not the only one, who contended for it. In between 1901 and 1955 there had been many candidates nominated by several national and foreign organizations (the names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later). The first one was Jan Gottlieb Bloch, a great industrialist and financier, railway builder in the Kingdom of Poland and Russian Empire, commonly named “the king of railway”. Nonetheless, he had been nominated thanks to his peacekeeping, not economic, activity.The strongest argument for his candidature had been the voluminous book “The future of War” published in 1989. It showed Bloch’s beliefs that in the face of fast technical development, contemporary wars do not make sense, because they lead to a catastrophe. And that is because, there is no society that would be able to bear preparing and going to war. Besides, there are no winners, only losers. Those thesis of Jan de Bloch were supported by strict statistical data, historical facts and prognosis. Already in 1901, in the first edition of Nobel Peace Prize, Bloch collected four nominations from (click surnames to see:
Beart de la Faille - the member of Permanent International Peace Bureau in Hague,
Earl Nigra - Italian senator, former ambassador of Italian Republic in Austria,
Kasparek and Rostworowski - two Poles, members of International Law Institute,
Philippe Sagnac - the professor of modern history at the University of Lille.
Also Stanisław Tarnowski, the provost of the University of Cracow, sent a letter to the Nobel Committee. The reason for the nomination had been- in every proposal- “The Future of War”. Bloch’s masterpiece is even today a great example of right estimates. The First and the Second World Wars showed that today’s wars are total wars and besides mass destruction, they lead to a ruin of world economy. Bloch had very outstanding competitors: activists of international pacifist movement- Berta von Suttner, Frederic Passy- the originator of International Red Cross- Dunant, the chairman of Permanent Peace Bureau- Ducommun and many others. In the first year there had been 136 nominations. Nevertheless, the amount of candidates was smaller, because some of the names appeared more than ones (for example Jan Gottlieb Bloch). Unfortunately, Bloch’s early death in January 1902 eliminated his candidature from the competition. Surprisingly, the most often nominated candidate was Ludwik Zamenhoff- a doctor from Warsaw, originator of Esperanto language. Lingua franca was – due to several opinions- a way for people of different nationalities and cultures to understand each other. Ludwik Zamenhoff’s nomination showed up 14 times between 1907 and 1914. Present among candidates were as well: the professor of the University of Lviv Oswald Balzer (1926), Józef Polak (1928)- the activist of a Movement for Peace, and Józef Piłsudski (1934).
For more information, please enter:
The article of Peter Van den Dungen "Preventing catastrophe: The World's First Peace Museum (in Ritsumeikan Journal of International Studies, March 2006)
The article of Peter Van den Dungen "Jan Bloch and the Inaugural Nobel Peace Prize (1901)"