Dominic Green’s essay (January 9, 2021) on Unni Turrettini’s new book “The farce of the Nobel Peace Prize” is riddled with factual errors. It is claimed that “the idea was founded in 1900”. The Nobel Peace Prize, however, was instituted in Alfred Nobel’s will of 1895. The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1901. The Norwegian Nobel Institute first opened its doors in 1904. Further, it is claimed that “Childless and unhappy — his [Alfred Nobel’s] mother had blocked a love match with Bertha Kinsky, an idealistic Russian countess”. Where to begin. Bertha Kinsky was not Russian, she was Austrian-Bohemian. Alfred Nobel’s mother did not block any match between Nobel and Kinsky, as at the time the two first met she was exclusively involved with the man soon to become her husband, Baron Arthur G. von Suttner. It is also incorrect that the Nobel Peace Prize, “in memory of Bertha’s values, was to be granted by the Norwegian parliament.” The Norwegian Parliament was never intended to ‘grant’ the Nobel Peace Prize, only appoint the members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. When delving into the details of the correspondence between the two it becomes abundantly clear that von Suttner espoused a different and rather more radical pacifism than Alfred suggested in the criteria for his Nobel Peace Prize. It is also factually wrong to claim that the 1936 Nobel Peace Prize led to “[t]wo pro-German members” resigning from the committee. Rather the members who left the committee were the Social Democrat Foreign Minister of Norway and a predecessor from the Liberal Party. None of the two can be regarded as ‘pro German’ with any degree of accuracy. There is a reference to “Henrik Thune, the current director of Norway’s foreign policy institute”. Dr Thune is an esteemed colleague and although no doubt deserving of such a post has never been the director of Norway’s foreign policy institute (Nupi). Further it is claimed that the former Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, “increased its financial dependency on the Norwegian government”. This is also a misrepresentation. True, the Nobel Institute under Lundestad received a small annual grant from the government earmarked for the library, which is a national depository library. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has always had all its prize-related finances covered from the Nobel Foundation in Sweden, drawing on the revenue from Alfred Nobel’s original fortune. All of these are factual errors. The opinions expressed are also drenched in bias, not least since Green’s review simply cherry-picks prizes he does not like. But that is for another essay.
With kind regards,
Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Published in The Spectator 15.01-2021