Award ceremony speech

Presentation Speech by Gunnar Jahn*, Chairman of the Nobel Committee

Shortly after the atomic bombs were exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki1, Albert Einstein made this statement:

“The time has come now, when man must give up war. It is no longer rational to solve international problems by resorting to war. Now that an atomic bomb, such as the bombs exploded at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, can destroy a city, kill all the people in a city, a small city the size of Minneapolis, say, we can see that we must now make use of man’s powers of reason, in order to settle disputes between nations.

In accordance with the principles of justice we must develop international law, strengthen the United Nations, and have peace in the world from now on.”

At the time few people heeded these words of Albert Einstein.

One man, however, never forgot them, the man we welcome among us today, the man whom the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament has selected for this year’s award of the Peace Prize – Linus Carl Pauling, who ever since 1946 has campaigned ceaselessly, not only against nuclear weapons tests, not only against the spread of these armaments, not only against their very use, but against all warfare as a means of solving international conflicts.

Linus Pauling is a professor of chemistry; for thirty-nine years he has been on the staff of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where he was made a professor in 1931. In addition to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, his scientific achievements have won him many distinctions, medals, and honors, both in his own country and abroad. His renown as a scientist is beyond dispute.

In 1946, at the request of Albert Einstein, Linus Pauling, together with seven other scientists, formed the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, of which Einstein was chairman.1 The most important task of this committee was to bring to the notice of people everywhere the tremendous change that had taken place in the world after the splitting of the atom and the production of the atomic bomb had become fact. In the words of the author Robert Jungk, “it was a crusade undertaken by men who were children in political affairs.”2

The hope cherished by mankind that, once the Second World War was over, an age of peace and disarmament would follow, was not fulfilled. It was not long before differences between East and West emerged in all their stark reality, as the cooperation engendered in time of war crumbled and was replaced by suspicion and mutual fear of aggression.

The result was the armaments race between the two great powers, to see who could produce the most effective nuclear weapons. Gradually the “terror balance” became the tacitly accepted safeguard against war and a guarantee of peace.

It was in August, 1949, that the Soviet Union also succeeded in producing the atom bomb.3

The armaments race created an atmosphere which not only made it difficult to work for the promotion of disarmament and peace but also threatened to muzzle freedom of speech.

Inevitably, the crusade lost impetus and faded away.

But Linus Pauling marched on; for him, retreat was impossible.

During the first few years, his aim was above all to prevent the hydrogen bomb from becoming a reality. In speeches and lectures he endeavored to open the eyes of his fellowmen to the catastrophe it represented. “This bomb”, he declared, “may have a destructive effect, a hundred, a thousand, nay ten thousand times greater than that of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Its effect will depend on how great the bomb is and at what height above the earth it is exploded.” This statement was made as early as 1947, and subsequent tests with the hydrogen bomb proved the validity of his predictions.

On February 13, 1950, Pauling spoke to a large audience in Carnegie Hall in New York, this time in protest against the decision to produce the hydrogen bomb. His speech was subsequently published as a brochure entitled The Ultimate Decision.

He opened his speech by describing the consequences, should there be a major war involving hydrogen bombs: a thousand million men and women dead, and the earth’s atmosphere permeated with toxic radioactive substances, from which no human being, animal, or plant would be safe.

He concludes as follows:

“The solution of the world’s problem – the problem of atomic war – is that we must – we must bring law and order into the world as a whole…

Our political leaders impelled by the massed feelings of the people of the world must learn that peace is the important goal – a peace that reflects the spirit of true humanity, the spirit of the brotherhood of man.

It is not necessary that the social and economic systems in Russia be identical with that in the United States, in order that these two great nations can be at peace with one another. It is only necessary that the people of the United States and the people of Russia have respect for one another, a deep desire to work for progress, a mutual recognition that war has finally ruled itself out as the arbiter of the destiny of humanity. Once the people of the world express these feelings, the East and the West can reach a reasonable and equitable decision about all world affairs and can march together side by side, towards a more and more glorious future.”

This 1950 speech was followed by a series of talks and lectures on the same subject – what would happen if a major nuclear war broke out.

There were many, of course, who recognized the truth of Linus Pauling’s warning, but at that time his words aroused no general response from the American public. Outside the ranks of scientists and peace organizations, he was then relatively unknown. And the people themselves? In the United States – as here in Norway at a later period – they found it most convenient to turn a deaf ear to his warnings.

The United States tested its first hydrogen bomb in November, 1952, and the Soviet Union followed suit in August, 1953. The cold war had now entered upon a still more uncompromising phase, but the voice of Linus Pauling was not to be silenced. Tireless and undaunted, and supported in his views by numerous scientists, he continued to draw attention to the fearful destruction and mass annihilation of human life that might result if hydrogen bombs were used. “There does not seem,” he says, “to be any theoretical limit to the size of these weapons.”

Of the appeals launched at this time bearing Pauling’s signature, the Mainau Declaration of July 15, 1955, is the best known. It was signed by fifty-two Nobel Prizewinners, most of them scientists. The appeal is such an important document that I should like to quote it:

“We, the undersigned, are scientists of different countries, different creeds, different political persuasions. Outwardly, we are bound together only by the Nobel Prize, which we have been favored to receive. With pleasure we have devoted our lives to the service of science. It is, we believe, a path to a happier life for people. We see with horror that this very science is giving mankind the means to destroy itself. By total military use of weapons feasible today, the earth can be contaminated with radioactivity to such an extent that whole peoples can be annihilated. Neutrals may die thus as well as belligerents.

If war broke out among the great powers, who could guarantee that it would not develop into a deadly conflict? A nation that engages in a total war thus signals its own destruction and imperils the whole world.

We do not deny that perhaps peace is being preserved precisely by the fear of these weapons. Nevertheless, we think it is a delusion if governments believe that they can avoid war for a long time through the fear of these weapons. Fear and tension have often engendered wars. Similarly it seems to us a delusion to believe that small conflicts could in the future always be decided by traditional weapons. In extreme danger no nation will deny itself the use of any weapon that scientific technology can produce.

All nations must come to the decision to renounce force as a final resort. If they are not prepared to do this, they will cease to exist.”

In the harsh political atmosphere then prevailing, it was not surprising that Linus Pauling gradually became isolated and ostracized, primarily on suspicion of being a Communist.

On several occasions during the 1950s, the authorities withheld his passport, even when he wished to travel abroad to attend conferences of a purely scientific nature, as for example in 1952. It is only fair to record that, upon making his application direct to Washington, he was granted his passport.

In 1955 Dr. Pauling appeared before a committee of the United States Senate that was investigating the work of the Passport Office. He was then questioned on his alleged associations with Communists or Communist sympathizers, a term which at that time was applied to many people. When asked whether he himself was a Communist, Linus Pauling repeated what he had so often declared under oath: that he was not a Communist, that he had not been a Communist, that he was not a crypto-Communist nor a theoretical Marxist, that he had never wittingly helped the Communist Party or followed the party line. The senator conducting the investigation remarked that it was his own impression that “it was the Communists who had followed Pauling’s line.” This was as far as the committee could get, and for a few years Pauling was left in peace.

Anyone familiar with Linus Pauling and his views, anyone who has heard him speak or has read his works, should know that he is by no means a Communist.

Meanwhile, as the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union stepped up their nuclear tests, radioactive fallout in the earth’s atmosphere increased.

Soon more and more scientists, alive to the dangerous effects of radioactive fallout on human health and hereditary factors, were protesting against these tests.

Linus Pauling was one of the first to perceive the danger, and from the middle of the 1950s he devoted the better part of his time and energy to his campaign against test explosions. He constantly maintained that these tests must be terminated by an agreement signed by the countries possessing the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb, and that the agreement must be enforced by means of effective international supervision.

It was during his struggle to end tests of nuclear weapons that Linus Pauling’s name became well known all over the world – and also controversial.

In order to assess in terms of figures the effect radioactive fallout would have on future generations, Linus Pauling carried out his own investigations and calculations, calculations which he always submits with reservation, because of the many unknown factors involved.

Time and again he states: “Maybe my figures are many times too high, maybe they are many times too low.” But his calculations were supported by many others. I need only remind you of Albert Schweitzer’s message broadcast by the Oslo radio station on April 23, 1957.

The opposition Pauling encountered came first of all from two scientists, E. Teller3 and W.F. Libby , of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

They seem to differ not so much on the resultant calculations themselves as on the conclusion to be drawn from these calculations.

Teller and Libby readily admit that radioactive fallout is harmful, but they consider this fact relative, weighing it against the risk taken by being unable to secure ever more effective defensive armaments through nuclear tests.

Pauling’s views on test explosions, on the other hand, are not dependent on whether there are few or many people who would suffer from radioactive fallout.

On May 15, 1957, in a speech to students at Washington University in St. Louis, he dealt with what was known about the effect of radioactivity on human hereditary factors. Among other things, he said: “I believe that no human being should be sacrificed to a project; and in particular I believe that no human being should be sacrificed to the project of perfecting nuclear weapons that could kill hundreds of millions of human beings, could devastate this beautiful world in which we live.”

It was after this speech that he drew up the appeal which, more than anything else, attracted the attention of the public. This appeal was signed by more than 2,000 American scientists and was later circulated and signed by over 8,000 foreign scientists, from forty-nine different countries.

In his book No More War!, published in 1958, Linus Pauling has described how he collected these signatures.

The petition was the result of the efforts of individual scientists. No organization was responsible for circulating the petition or gathering signatures. The whole job was done by a mere handful of people.

In January, 1958, Linus Pauling and his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, submitted the appeal, with its 11,021 signatures, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization, Dag Hammarskjöld. The Pauling Appeal reads as follows:

“We, the scientists whose names are signed below, urge that an international agreement to stop the testing of nuclear bombs be made now.

Each nuclear bomb test spreads an added burden of radioactive elements over every part of the world. Each added amount of radiation causes damage to the health of human beings all over the world and causes damage to the pool of human germ plasma such as to lead to an increase in the number of seriously defective children that will be born in future generations.

So long as these weapons are in the hands of only three powers, an agreement for their control is feasible. If testing continues, and the possession of these weapons spreads to additional governments, the danger of outbreak of a cataclysmic nuclear war through the reckless action of some irresponsible national leader will be greatly increased.

An international agreement to stop the testing of nuclear bombs now could serve as a first step toward a more general disarmament and the ultimate effective abolition of nuclear weapons, averting the possibility of a nuclear war that would be a catastrophe to all humanity.

We have in common with our fellowmen a deep concern for the welfare of all human beings. As scientists we have knowledge of the dangers involved and therefore a special responsibility to make those dangers known. We deem it imperative that immediate action be taken to effect an international agreement to stop the testing of all nuclear weapons.”

And then, in 1958, without entering into any prior agreement, the Soviet Union, followed by the United States and Great Britain, discontinued nuclear tests.

Just what effect the warnings of scientists – foremost among them Linus Pauling and Albert Schweitzer – may have had in this connection, would be difficult to say with any certainty. But there is no doubt that both of them, together with other scientists, have contributed to familiarizing people with the dangers nuclear tests involve; and every government is bound to take into consideration public opinion, whether openly expressed or not.

Pauling’s campaign had aroused a tremendous amount of attention both at home and abroad.

Once again the Internal Security Subcommittee of the United States Senate summoned him for interrogation. The first interview took place on June 21, 1960, and the second on October 11 of the same year.

At Pauling’s request, the hearings were held in public, and the proceedings published for everyone to read.

The primary purpose of the subcommittee was to discover how the 11,000 signatures had been obtained. There were many who believed that the appeal was Communist inspired, and once again Linus Pauling found himself facing the old charge of communism.

Pauling answered every question frankly and clearly. Questioned on his own attitude to communism he said: “At a meeting in Pasadena, I testified under oath that a statement that I had prepared to the effect that I was not a Communist, never had been a Communist, and never had been associated with the Communist Party, was true…”

Later on in the course of the proceedings, he stated: “I would like to know more about Marxism than I know. I believe that we never can know too much about anything…I do not understand dialectical materialism, either. But I do not believe in censorship. I believe in freedom of publication.”

He gave the subcommittee all the facts on how the appeal signed by the 11,021 scientists came about.

But when the subcommittee asked to be supplied with a list of names of those who had assisted him in collecting signatures, he replied: “I think that my reputation and example may well have led many young people to work for peace in this way. My conscience does not allow me to protect myself by sacrificing these idealistic and hopeful people. And I am not going to do it… For (he continued later) anyone called before this committee is rendered vulnerable. He may lose his job.”

It was a serious matter for Linus Pauling to refuse to answer questions put to him by the subcommittee, and he realized that he risked a prison sentence for contempt of Congress.

Pauling endeavored to secure a court ruling that the subcommittee’s demand that he submit the names of those who had helped him to collect signatures violated the constitutional right of every citizen to appeal to the authorities. Pauling failed to secure a favorable verdict in two instances. His appeal to the Supreme Court did not materialize, for the Senate subcommittee dropped the matter. It merely published its findings in a report which, incidentally, was strongly criticized in some of the major American newspapers as being too one-sided and not particularly fair to Pauling.

Although encountering opposition in various quarters, Pauling’s name and his views became even better known, and the manner in which his hearings had been conducted gained him added support, as is so often the case when a good cause is attacked.

Undaunted, Linus Pauling and his wife, Ava Helen Pauling, continued their campaign, delivering as many as a hundred speeches and lectures a year. His wife has been a great source of inspiration for Pauling, and the assistance she renders him is invaluable. Her own peace lectures, with their special appeal to women, have been influential.

It is impossible in a short address to touch upon all the speeches Linus Pauling has made and all the conferences in which he has participated. I must confine myself to a few of the international disarmament and peace conferences, such as the Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima in 1959, where he personally wrote the resolution which was issued after the meeting.

This states that an international agreement must be reached in which the nations pledge themselves to terminate all tests with nuclear weapons and not to produce new ones. Nor should these weapons be distributed to other nations. A neutral zone should be established between East and West. Among the countries to remain neutral, mention is made of East and West Germany, with adjoining countries, and Japan, but naturally not China.

In May, 1961, Linus Pauling and his wife convened in Oslo an international Conference against the Spread of Nuclear Weapons. Scientists from fifteen countries attended, and the main point in the resolution adopted was that nuclear weapons must not be allowed to spread to other countries, since such a spread would inevitably increase the danger of some power’s willfully unleashing nuclear warfare. Furthermore, the spread of these weapons would also reduce the chance of a disarmament agreement.

On September 1, 1961, the Soviet Union resumed nuclear testing in the atmosphere and announced plans for detonating a fifty-megaton nuclear bomb. On October 18, Pauling sent a telegram to Premier Khrushchev4, earnestly entreating him not to carry out this plan. At the same time he sent a telegram to President Kennedy5, requesting that the United States government declare that no test explosions would be undertaken in the atmosphere provided the Soviet Union revoked its plan to detonate the fifty-megaton bomb.

He received a long letter from Khrushchev, dated October 26, 1961, the gist of which was that the Soviet Union considered itself regrettably forced to carry out new tests with nuclear weapons, and he was therefore sorry that he was unable to reverse the decision already made. The reasons given were that the Western powers were arming, and that the Soviet Union considered its security threatened.

And so, despite his efforts, Linus Pauling did not succeed.

At this time he was also deeply involved in the problem of shelters in the event of nuclear attack. He maintained that shelters would not be able to reduce the number of dead and wounded in a nuclear war because their construction might give people the false impression that nuclear warfare was not, after all, so dangerous. He strove in articles and speeches to enlighten the general public on this point.

In November, 1961, Pauling and his wife were invited by the Academy of Science in Moscow to attend its second centenary celebration. While they were there, they were both asked to lecture on disarmament and peace. Pauling’s lecture was based on the same arguments he had used in the United States, but he emphasized the danger of the new nuclear tests in the Soviet Union. He was confronted with the argument that the Soviet Union was compelled to continue its tests in order to be in a position to obtain weapons capable of preventing the outbreak of a nuclear war. Pauling pointed out that this was the very argument used by those in the United States who insisted on continuing nuclear tests.

During this visit in Moscow, Pauling applied for a personal interview with Premier Khrushchev. When this was refused, he sent the Russian leader two letters and a draft of an agreement for a ban on nuclear tests. In the main, his proposal tallies with the test ban agreement of July 25, 1963.

On March 1, 1962, the United States resumed nuclear tests in the atmosphere.

In October, 1962, Pauling was in a position to state that the tests undertaken in the Soviet Union and in the United States during the course of the previous year or so had released twice as much radioactive fallout as all the tests undertaken during the sixteen preceding years.

In 1963, however, after what had long appeared a state of permanent deadlock, discussions on a nuclear test ban finally made some headway when the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain entered into an agreement. This was signed in Moscow on July 25, 1963, and went into effect on October 10 of this year. Most countries have now signed, the most important exceptions being France and China. The agreement covers all tests of nuclear weapons except those carried out underground.

In his magnificent speech to the American people on July 26 of this year, the late President John F. Kennedy stated: Even then, the number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard, and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby-who may be born long after we are gone – should be of concern to us all..

In his speech President Kennedy revealed that his views on nuclear tests were based on the same moral attitude that Linus Pauling has consistently maintained.

No one would suggest that Linus Pauling is actually responsible for the nuclear test ban itself or for the efforts of the great powers to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all parties.

But does anyone believe that this treaty would have been concluded now if there had been no responsible scientist who, tirelessly, unflinchingly, year in year out, had impressed on the authorities and on the general public the real menace of nuclear tests?

In his speech President Kennedy likewise stressed the great danger of spreading nuclear weapons to more and more countries. These were his words: “I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries, large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scattered throughout the world. There would be no rest for anyone then, no stability, no real security, and no chance of effective disarmament.”

Even though the Test Ban Treaty has been effected, this is only the first small step toward an agreement on complete disarmament and peace.

Though the road may be long and difficult, Linus Pauling has an unshakable belief that one day mankind will succeed in banning war: “I believe that there is a greater power in the world than the evil power of military force, of nuclear bombs – there is the power of good, of morality, of humanitarianism.

In his opinion, it will be possible by enlisting these forces to build a world community in which the actions of all nations will be subject to just supervision and control, through the medium of international law and justice.

As far as I know, Linus Pauling has not drawn up any concrete plan for the future. But one thing is certain: he has great faith in the role of science, as he shows in his suggestion for establishing a World Peace Research Organization which would be affiliated with the United Nations, and which would represent every branch of science, including the natural sciences and the humanities.

An organization of this kind must be based on knowledge and wisdom. It is for this reason that Pauling has now left his position at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and joined the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Santa Barbara. He has taken this step, he tells us, because this institution allows him greater freedom to continue his work for peace.

He wants to use this opportunity for research in drawing up concrete plans for the future.

It is Linus Pauling’s highly ethical attitude toward life – the deepest driving force within him – that drew him into the fight against nuclear weapons.

Through his campaign, Linus Pauling has manifested the ethical responsibility which he believes science should bear for the fate of mankind, today and in the future.

The scientist’s urge to wrest Nature’s secrets from her, is one Linus Pauling can never satisfy. As long as the world exists, there will always be bold, adventurous minds and new campaigns to be carried on for new goals.

Should Linus Pauling, through his tireless efforts, have contributed – if only a little – to restoring to science its ideals, then his campaign will in itself have been of such value that we living today can scarcely appreciate the full extent of the debt we owe him.

* Mr. Jahn delivered this speech on December 10, 1963, in the Auditorium of the University of Oslo and at its conclusion presented the Peace Prize for 1962 (reserved in that year) to Mr. Pauling. The laureate responded with a brief speech of acceptance. The English translation of Mr. Jahn’s speech is, with certain editorial changes made after collation with the Norwegian text, basically that which appears in Les Prix Nobel en 1963.

1. Early in August, 1945, in the last days of WWII.

2. The seven other scientists were Hans A. Bethe, Selig Hecht, Thorfin R. Hogness, Philip Morse, Leo Szilard, Harold C. Urey, Victor F. Weisskopf; a few others were added after 1946. The committee ceased activity in 1950.

3. Edward Teller (1908- ), Hungarian-born American physicist who helped to develop both the A-bomb and the H-bomb; for his views on nuclear testing, see his book Our Nuclear Future: Facts, Dangers, and Opportunities, written in collaboration with Albert L. Latter, 1958.

4. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev 1894-1971), premier of the U.S.S.R. (1958-1964).

5. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), U.S. president (1961-1963).

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1962

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