Bertha von Suttner, A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Baroness Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) of Austria was the leading figure of the 19th century peace movements that paved the way for the creation of the League of Nations.

The UN Library&Archives Geneva hold the private papers of Bertha von Suttner and of her close collaborator Alfred Fried, as well as those of the International Peace Bureau.

Bertha von Suttner

United Nations Archives at Geneva

Bertha von Suttner

United Nations Archives at Geneva

Bertha von Suttner

United Nations Archives at Geneva

Bertha von Suttner

United Nations Archives at Geneva

Bertha von Suttner

United Nations Archives at Geneva

Bertha von Suttner, A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Born into an aristocratic family with strong ties to the Austro-Hungarian military, Bertha von Suttner lived an unconventional life that led her to critically reassess her own background and the values of the society of her time. She became a passionate supporter of the cause of peace and advocated the development of international law and strong multilateral institutions as the only rational alternative to war.

She founded several pacifist organizations and helped establish the International Peace Bureau in Bern in 1891. She supported the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, that led to the establishment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. As a life-long friend of Alfred Nobel, she inspired him to create the Nobel Peace Prize, and was the first woman to receive it in 1905. 

Bertha von Suttner's Timeline

The Next Page Podcast Episode 43: Conversation - Dr. Hope Elizabeth May on Bertha von Suttner and the power of positive history

Featured Resource: The Bertha von Suttner Project


Featured titles:

Open Access resources:

  • Library & Archives Publications

Bertha von Suttner and other women in search of peace (UN Office at Geneva. Library & Archives and Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations, 1993)

  • Academic Publications

Du cosmopolitisme au pacifisme : la longue marche de la “Friedensbertha" (Marie-Claire Hoock-Demarle, 2015)

Bertha von Suttner : a prototypical European writer (Johann Georg Lughofer, 2011)

Across a Feminist-Pacifist Divide : Baroness Bertha von Suttner’s Tour of the United States in 1912 (Laurie R. Cohen, 2009)

Bertha von Suttner (European Economic and Social Committee, 2006)

We have come a long way : engendering peace building and the new diplomacy (Janis Alton, 2003)

Declaring war on war : Bertha von Suttner and the peace movement (Jutta Landa, 1996)

Bertha von Suttner and the struggle to avert the world war (Caroline E. Playne, 1936)

  • Other Publications

Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) mère du militantisme moderne (Christian David, 2020)

Bertha von Suttner and the Nobel Peace Prize (Irwin Abrams, 2005)

How to abolish war (Michael Renner, 1999)

Writings of Bertha von Suttner


Notable works in the UN Library & Archives Geneva Collection:

Die Waffen nieder! Eine Lebensgeschichte. Berlin: "Berlin-Wien", 1919

Martha's Kinder : Roman... Eine neue Folge von "Die Waffen Nieder". Berlin: "Berlin-Wien", 1919

Die Barbarisierung der Luft. Berlin [etc.]: Verlag Der "Friedens-Warte", 1910

Der Krieg und seine Bekämpfung. Berlin: Verlag Continent, 1904

Die Haager Friedenskonferenz : Tagebuchblätter. Dresden [etc.]: E. Pierson's Verlag, 1900

Selected translations

 The Barbarization of the sky. 1st ed. Mount Pleasant, Mich.: Bertha Von Suttner Project, 2016

 Bas les armes!. Levallois-Perret, France: ÉditionsTurquoise, 2015

 Lay down your arms : the autobiography of Martha Von Tilling... 2d ed. London [etc.]: Longmans, Green &, 1894


Die Waffen Nieder : Monatsschrift zur Förderung der Friedensidee, offizielles Organ des Amtes der Interparlamentarischen Konferenzen und des Internationalen Friedensbureau in Bern, sowie der Friedensgesellschaften zu Wien Berlin, etc. Berlin [etc.]: A. H. Fried & Cie, 1892-1899

Following the success of her novel “Die Waffen nieder!” (1889), Bertha von Suttner and her collaborator, Alfred Fried, began to print a magazine of the same name. In 1899, Alfred Fried took over the direction of the magazine and changed its title to:

Die Friedens-Warte : Blätter für internationale Verständigung und zwischenstaatliche Organisation. Berlin : Verlag Arno Spitz, 1899- (UN Library collection: v. 1 (1899)-v. 90, nos. 3-4 (2015))


Digitized Collection: Bertha von Suttner Papers (1843-1914)

The content of the Bertha von Suttner Papers is available electronically in the UN Archives Geneva Catalogue.

To access PDF files of the digitized content, use the links above and stay in 'Detail View'. Select 'Localize in archive plan' to see the documents, files, sub-series, etc., in the archival tree structure.

Any question: Ask an Archivist.

Some Documents from the Bertha von Suttner Papers (1843-1914)

Copy of Bertha von Suttner's parents' marriage certificate: Sophie Wilhelmine Körner mit Franz Graf Kinsky, 27 July 1834, © United Nations Archives at Geneva

Nobel Peace Prize Award to Bertha von Suttner, 1905: Telegram by Starting's Nobel Committee, © United Nations Archives at Geneva

Related Research Guides

Peace Palace Library:

Additional Resources

Avoir raison avec... Bertha con Suttner