Albert Szent-Györgyi’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1937
Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The first feeling of any guest, treated in this princely fashion can be no other than that of profound gratitude. To my mind, however, this magnificent celebration is much more than the expression of the splendid hospitality of a chivalrous nation.
I am the son of a small and far-away nation and the other laureates have all come from different countries from all over the world and we all were equally received here with signs of sympathy. To two of these laureates I am linked with friendly memories of common work. We have come here to receive our share of that wonderful gift, deposited on the common altar of human ideals by a great Swedish patriot. This highest distinction has been awarded to us by an impartial judgement, without regard of our creed, race or nationality. All this proves to me, that there are links between man and man, reaching over national borders, it proves to me that there are things about us, more important than our language, passeport or birth certificate, that our common human ideals are not extinct and are kindled in this country with profound love.
In the great struggle between ignorance, distrust and brutality on one side, knowledge, understanding and peace on the other the scientist must stand fearlessly on the side of the latter, strengthening link between man and man and preaching that the only effective weapon of self-defence is good-will to others.
This celebration here tells me that this work is not hopeless. I thank you for this teaching with all my heart and lift my glass to human solidarity, to the ultimate victory of knowledge, peace, good-will and understanding.
Prior to the speech, Professor A.E. Lindh of the University of Uppsala addressed the laureate:
The name of Haworth and Karrer are, via Vitamin C, in close connection with the name of Albert von Szent-Györgyi, this year’s Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology and Medicine, the ingenious and indefatigable scientist. Kindly accept our greetings, Albert von Szent-Györgyi, and at the same time accept our expressions of sincere admiration for the untiring energy you have hitherto shown, and for the extraordinary results you have obtained in your research work despite the difficulties you have, and have had to overcome. Your investigations into oxidation in living cells enabled you to crystallize Vitamin C, a discovery of vital importance to medical science. Your discovery of the Fumaric Acid Catalysis, and your ingenious penetration of its complicated mechanism has opened the way to undreamt of paths within the sphere of medical science and its practical work in the service of suffering humanity. We congratulate you and participate in your happiness in connection with the reward you have gained for your great scientific work, a work of research which has aroused the sincere admiration of the scientific world and in whose continuation we place our highest hopes.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.