Award ceremony speech

Excerpt from the Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet in Oslo

The 1971 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Willy Brandt.

The solemn Prize Award Ceremony took place on December 10 in the assembly hall of the University of Oslo. Their Majesties the King and Queen of Norway honored the ceremony with their presence. Mr. Willy Brandt was in attendance. The Nobel Foundation was represented by professor Otto Frostman. After the opening of the ceremony with the «Egmond ouverture» by Ludwig van Beethoven, rendered by an orchestra conducted by Mr. Öivind Bergh, the following speech was made by the President of the Nobel Committee, Mrs. Aase Lionæs, in honor of the 1971 Laureate, Mr. Willy Brandt:

Your Royal Highnesses, ladies and gentlemen.

A new war is casting its shadow on the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.

The fields once blessed by richer harvests through the research in wheat by the Laureate of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Normann Borlaug, are now bomb craters of death.

Two developing countries that are in desperate need of peace to rise from poverty, India and Pakistan, are now at war.

The degree to which politicians worldwide have closed their eyes and hardened their hearts to the new afflictions imposed on the innocent victims of war in these countries is appalling.

Against this dark background, we double our thanks to those that work hard for peace.

Our thoughts today focus mainly on someone who is no longer with us: Dr. Ralph Bunche.

Ralph Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his contribution to the armistice between Israel and the Arab states. Dr. Bunche was a noble and faithful advocate of peace throughout his long life – of peace between races and peace between peoples. He has been one of UN:s most unselfish servants for 25 years.

He will always be remembered with profound gratitude by the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting (Parliament).

Seventy years have now passed since the first award of the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1901, the prize was shared between the Swiss Henri Dunant and the Frenchman Frédéric Passy. Henri Dunant’s compassionate work for prisoners of war and people disabled in war lead, as is well known, to the foundation of the Red Cross in 1864 and the establishment of the Geneva convention. And Frédéric Passy’s pioneer work for volontary arbitration in international conflicts resulted, among other things, in the institution of the Interparliamentary Union in 1889.

At this milestone, it seems natural to stop for a moment to think of the man who, through his exceptional will, laid the foundation for the Nobel Prizes, the most glorious of all international marks of honour.

Many have wondered why Alfred Nobel, whose main research area was chemistry, would give one fifth of his estate for the founding of a peace prize.

The suggested reasons for this have also been many. Maybe he was influenced by the peace ideals of the English poet Shelley or maybe, more likely, it was his close friendship with the peace advocate Bertha von Suttner that lead him in this direction. In a letter to her, Nobel discusses the possibility of organized work for world peace, a rather remarkable idea at the time and, as it turned out, also a profetic one. He writes: «The best solution would be a treaty, whereby all governments commit themselves to jointly defend one another in case of an attack. This would subsequently lead to partial demobilization.»

With the creation of the UN in 1945, this vision of Nobel’s became one of the fundamental principles in the organization’s Charter.

Many attempts have been made during these 70 years to realize Nobel’s dream of peace.

This year, the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting have chosen to give the Peace Prize to a man for whom the ideal of peace has been a guiding-star throughout his active political career – Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt.

Willy Brandt is the fourth German citizen who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We remember his predecessors:

Foreign Secretary Gustav Stresemann, Mr. Ludwig Quidde, the historian, and the journalist Carl von Ossietzky.

Willy Brandt was born in Lübeck in 1913. His early youth coincides with one of the most tragic periods in the modern history of Germany, the advance of Nazism and the atroceous violations by the Hitler dictatorship of human dignity, first in Germany but later also in many other European countries.

The pattern of Willy Brandt’s life was formed by his resistance to the Nazi regime violations. Already in 1933, at the early age of 19, he came to Norway as a political refugee. In Norway, he spent seven important years of his youth as an active journalist.

Brandt shared his time between work, studies and intensive efforts to help the victims of Nazism, both those that were refugees outside Germany and those that were held captive in German concentration camps.

On November 23 of 1936, the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting decided to award the Peace Prize to the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky. Ossietzky was a journalist with «die Weltbühne», a periodical in which he repudiated the German mobilization without compromise. Ossietzky was arrested already the night of the Parliament fire. After that, he spent five long years of suffering and humiliation as Hitler’s prisoner in the concentration camps of Papenburg-Esterwegen.

In 1946, Albert Einstein wrote the following on the subject of Ossietzky having been awarded the Peace Prize: «The bestowal of an honour of this magnitude on this simple marture will be forever meriting for the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament.»

The candidature of Ossietzky was discussed all over the world. One of the contributions in this discussion came from Heinrich Mann, who wrote the following:

«Ossi, who can no longer speak or write, has still had the good fortune of having the world’s conscience emerging for a moment and witnessing on his behalf, and the language that was spoken was his name.»

In remembering the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Ossietzky in 1936, we shall not forget the hard work of the young German refugee Willy Brandt in support of Ossietzky’s candidature.

When Ossietzky was finally elected for the prize, he did not let his fears stand in the way. Imprisoned and marked by death, he resisted Göring’s pressure to renounce the prize.

When the war reached Norway in 1940, Willy Brandt, as many others, was forced to leave the country. As Hitler-Germany had deprived Willy Brandt of his German citizenship, the Norwegian Parliament granted him Norwegian citizenship while he was a refugee in Sweden. In Sweden, Willy Brandt continued his work for democracy in Germany and for the freedom of Norway. There is hardly any other Norwegian journalist, who has written so many articles and so many books on Norway’s struggle for freedom as Willy Brandt. Among the many publications, I can mention but a few: The war in Norway, Norway continues its struggles, The struggle of the University of Oslo, Norway’s way to freedom and many, many more articles and lectures to create the necessary understanding in Sweden for the struggle for freedom in the occupied Norway during the first years of the war.

Our country is deeply indebted to Willy Brandt for his deeds during these evil years.

With the coming of peace in the spring of 1945, Willy Brandt was offered prominent positions in Norway and Germany, as well as in other countries. After one year as a Norwegian press attaché in Berlin, he chose to make his living in his native country, a country in ruins suffering from total defeat.

With Germany at a zero position, economically and morally, Willy Brandt wanted to be part of the building of a democratic Germany together with other freedom-loving people.

What we remember best of Willy Brandt’s work in Germany during the first post-war years is his courageous work for the freedom of Berlin. And Norway’s and other countries’ concern for Berlin’s struggle for freedom might be related to a feeling that defeat for Berlin would also mean defeat for peace in Europe.

Willy Brandt wrote in his book «My way to Berlin»: «If we had given up Berlin, world peace would be even more fragile today. Keeping the peace is essential, but it is not less important to secure freedom and contribute to the breakthrough of justice ».

The self-control and the courage, which I suspect was often a courage of despair, that Willy Brandt displayed in critical situations when he was the mayor of Berlin – a city under great political pressure and great unrest and with the erection of the «Wall» in 1961 – saved Berlin from the risk of a catastrophy of great dimensions.

After Berlin, Willy Brandt left for Bonn and the Bundestag (Parliament). He became the leader of the Social Democratic Party and was the party’s candidate for Chancellor in 1961, 1965 and 1969.

In 1966, the political situation in Germany led to a coalition government between the two major parties, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats. In this government, Willy Brandt served as Foreign Secretary and Vice Chancellor.

And it is from this new and wider political perspective that he is able to take the international initiatives on behalf of his government that led towards the present hope of international détente. This possibility of renewal and a more distinct formulation of Germany’s foreign policy goals became, of course, even greater in 1969 when Brandt was made Federal Chancellor.

It was the beginning of a new chapter in Brandt’s life and in the history of Germany.

As is well known, the 1969 election lead to a new coalition government in Germany, this time between the Social Democrats and the Free Democrats. The declaration of this new government, with Brandt as Chancellor and Walter Scheel as Foreign Secretary, made it clear that the government wanted to pursue a policy characterized by continuity as well as by renewal. On the area of foreign policy, this resulted in an intensification of the previously pursued policy as well as in new signals.

When the Federal Republic was formed in 1949, Konrad Adenauer became its first Chancellor. Adenauer stated, in his first Government Declaration, that West Germany belonged with the West European countries. From this evaluation of the international situation, the Federal Republic sought organized economic and military co-operation with Western Europe.

Also many West European countries had expressed their will to look to the future rather than to the past, to reach out across the narrow and dangerous boundaries of nationalism in order to build a peaceful co-existence that would also include Germany.

It was this policy of peace that helped Germany out of its isolation and the associated dangers and that led to the Rome Treaty and the birth of the European Community, EEC, in 1958.

As Head of Government, Willy Brandt has not deviated from the principles of extending West European co-operation. On the contrary, he has added a new dimension to it, by stressing that a strong and co-operating Western Europe is a prerequisite to achieve a change from confrontation to co-operation between Eastern Europe and Western Europe.

As is well known, there was a stagnation within the European Community from the beginning of the sixties when it came to its efforts of enlarging the Community.

At the EEC summit meeting in the Hague in 1969, Brandt submitted a declaration of enlargement of the Community, which has been of great importance. This initiative by Germany was the starting-point for renewed negotiations about enlargement of the EEC. On November 6, 1970, the Chancellor said the following with reference to Germany’s contribution to the summit meeting in the Hague in the German Bundestag: «The Federal Republic of Germany has been a mainstay in the efforts to strengthen and increase West European unity and co-operation. And the new progress that is being made can again be related to German initiatives.»

On October 28, 1969, at the Government Declaration parliamentary debate, Brandt said the following: «The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has stood the test for twenty years, is the organization that vouches for our security also in the future. The firm unity of the Treaty is a prerequisite for solidary efforts for détente in Europe.»

Based on the strength and unity of West European economic and political co-operation, and with the support of the 15 NATO member countries, Willy Brandt’s government now took up a more active policy of détente towards the Soviet Union and other East European countries.

The Nobel Committee expressed the following in its reflection to award Willy Brandt the Peace Prize: «The Nobel Committee has placed importance on the concrete initiatives that can lead to such a détente that Willy Brandt took when he was Foreign Secretary of the Federal Republic of Germany, from 1966, and when he was its Chancellor, from 1969.»

These concrete initiatives are specified in 4 clauses in the Government Declaration of October 28, 1969.

Clause 1 deals with efforts to be taken to deepen and enlarge the European Economic Community and strengthen the political co-operation within it.

Clause 2 speaks of a non-violence agreement with the Soviet Union.

Clause 3 expresses the will to initiate talks with Poland with a view to normalizing the relations with this country.

Clause 4 contains a declaration that the Government wishes to sign a non-proliferation treaty. The Government signed a non-proliferation treaty already during its first year.

With this first step, Brandt’s government paved the way for a meaningful dialogue between East and West.

With his expeditious mode of action, he contributed to the clarity of and the trust in the Federal Republic’s will for détente. A policy of détente to successfully bring the peoples of Europe together requires both parties to step out of the trenches of the cold war. Brandt wrote in a book entitled «After the victory», published in Stockholm 1944: «The day will come when the absolute hatred of war will be forgotten. On this day, there will be a Europe for all Europeans.»

Brandt’s East European policy is an attempt to bury hatred and seek reconciliation across the mass graves of the war. How important it was for him personally to carry out this task of reconciliation is demonstrated by his kneeling by the Jewish memorial in the former ghetto of Warsaw.

The first concrete result of Brandt’s efforts for relaxation in Germany’s relations with the Soviet Union was the signing of a non-violence agreement in Moscow on August 12, 1970. In this agreement, it is established that all controversal issues shall be solved in a peaceful manner, and that peace only can be secured if both countries refrain from violating each other’s borders. Both countries declared that they do not have territorial claims on other countries and that they would respect the integrity of all other countries within their present boundaries. The agreement also contained mutual wishes for more economic, technical and cultural co-operation.

The Federal Republic also confirmed in a letter from Foreign Secretary Walter Scheel to Foreign Secretary Gromyko that the agreement did not conflict with the political objectives of the Federal Republic of Germany, which were to act for a peaceful order in Europe that would make it possible for the German peoples to reunite through the right of self-determination.

At the signing of this agreement, Willy Brandt made a televised speech to the German people, in which he referred to the Government Declaration:

«Our national interests do not allow us to stand between East and West. Our country needs West European co-operation and understanding as well as the understanding of Eastern Europe. The German people needs peace in the full sense of the word, also with the Soviet Union and all peoples of Eastern Europe.» And he continued: «This has been and is our guiding rule, and it is this work for peace which is served by the agreement.»

On December 7, 1970, shortly after the signing of the Moscow agreement, an agreement for normalizing the relations with Poland was signed. The most important part of this agreement was the Federal Republic’s recognition of the western border of Poland, i.e., the Oder-Neisse line. Furthermore, it was agreed that the two countries would have no territorial claims on each other.

A German wish, that people of German descent who lived in Poland would be able to leave Poland at their own discretion, was not dealt with in the agreement but nevertheless accepted.

In a speech made in Warsaw to the German people, Brandt said among other things:

«I am well aware of the fact that this is a difficult journey. It will be of importance for a future in peace. The Warsaw Agreement shall be the symbolic end of sufferings and sacrifices of an evil past. It shall build a bridge between countries and peoples. It shall open a way that leads to the reunion of families that live apart and to borders that separate less than before.»

A condition by the government of the Federal Republic for submitting the two agreements to the parliament for ratification was, however, that an agreement be made between the four occupying powers to secure the connection of West Berlin to the Federal Republic of Germany.

This condition seems to have been fulfilled by the Four-Power Agreement that was made on September 3 of this year. In this general agreement, the four occupying powers agree to refrain from threats to use instruments of force in Berlin and to solve all problems in a peaceful manner.

Movements between West Berlin and the Federal Republic have been facilitated, and the possibilities for the inhabitants of West Berlin to travel to East Berlin and the DDR are greater. The fact that the inhabitants of West Berlin will be able to visit their families behind «the Wall» is, from a humane point of view, of course one of the most important achievements. The agreements put a final end to an era where West Berlin was the place for confrontations between East and West; confrontations that have caused political crises and near-war conditions.

Brandt made the following statement when interviewed by «Die Zeit» in November this year:

«Of course, the Berlin agreements cannot solve all long-term problems for the city. This will only be possible when we have come substantially closer to a European peace order. «The Wall» is still there, but it is less impenetrable.»

It is the four problem areas that I have tried to outline here that are the essence of Willy Brandt’s policy of co-operation and détente. This policy of his might pave the way for further initiatives to reduce tension in Europe. Willy Brandt himself mentions in an interview that there is hope for a mutual reduction in military forces as well as for de-escalation of armament in Europe, especially in Central Europe.

Let us hope that a development in this direction in Europe will lay the foundations for a global order of peace.

Last year, the Soviet Russian author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Alexander Solzjenitsyn, sent a letter to the Swedish Academy for the Prize Award Ceremonies, in which he says:

«… However, I cannot disregard the fact that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize takes place on the Human Rights’ Day. The Nobel Prize winners cannot avoid the responsibility of this coincidence.»

Willy Brandt’s peace plan for Europe is the evidence that such responsibility exists. His work for peace means possibilities for peoples of all countries to lead a dignified life without fear. What people want is to live in a Europe without separating walls and borders guarded by rockets, a Europe where – using the words of Henrik Wergeland – the branch of a rose bush is enough to designate a border.

Willy Brandt’s peace work has had a difficult starting-point. We have experienced one of the most barbaric wars in history. We are in the midst of a devastating war in Southeast Asia. Peoples of the Middle East are arming themselves against each other. There are preparations for war in India and Pakistan where thousands of children already are dying of hunger and millions of hands are clasped in prayer for a meal. The only thing in abundance in these impoverished countries seems to be weapons. This brings to mind the following words by Franklin Roosevelt: «What we need more than an end to wars is an end to the beginning of all wars.»

I see a hope for the future in giving this year’s Peace Prize to an active politician on the international arena. As such, he has a greater responsibility as well as greater possibilities of making a contribution that can subsequently bear the longed for fruits of peace. We can see for ourselves that Willy Brandt’s policy of peace has brought thaw to the cold political climate, and this instills hopes for a new kind of peace for the frozen earth of Europe.

Achieving peace and keeping it is not a simple one-time operation. Plenty of sceptics and kill-joys will remind us about that. The struggle for peace is a continuous process – it is a project that has to be worked at every day, over and over again.

But people cannot live without hope and belief. Therefore, we shall hope and therefore we shall believe that Willy Brandt’s gesture of reconciliation across the borders of old enemies will be interpreted in the spirit it was made.

If these hopes are fulfilled, Willy Brandt will live on in our history as the great Peace and Reconciliation Chancellor of Germany.

Book titles, as well as quotations from some of the books referred to, are translated literally from Norwegian in connection with the translation of the speech, which is the reason why they, most likely, are not identical with the actual titles and contents of books published in the English language.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1971-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1971

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