The Nobel Peace Prize 1951
Born: 1 July 1879, Paris, France
Died: 28 April 1954, Paris, France
Residence at the time of the award: France
Role: President, Trade Union Confederation C.G.T. Force Ouvrière, President, Conseil national économique and International Committee of the European Council, Vice President, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Vice President, Fédération syndicale mondiale, Member Council of I.L.O. (International Labour Organization), Delegate U.N.
Prize motivation: “for having devoted his life to the fight against war through the promotion of social justice and brotherhood among men and nations”
Prize share: 1/1
Social Justice Leads to Peace
The winner of the Peace Prize for 1951, Léon Jouhaux, grew up in a radical environment in a Paris suburb. His father, who worked in a match factory, suffered injuries from phosphorus quite early in life, becoming unfit for employment and unable to support the family. That experience made Léon an ardent trade unionist and founder and leader of the national French labor organization, the C.G.T. (Confédération Générale du Travail).
In the inter-war years, Jouhaux took part in the disarmament negotiations at the League of Nations, and figured prominently in the planning of social reform in France. In 1945, when he returned home after being a German PoW, Jouhaux lost the struggle with the Communists for control of the CGT, and in 1947 he took part in the foundation of a new anti-Communist trades union organization.
The 1951 Peace Prize was viewed by contemporary commentators as a friendly gesture from the Nobel Committee's Social Democrat majority, but the Committee placed its emphasis on Jouhaux's work for social equality and Franco-German reconciliation.