Jean de BLOCH (1836—1902), leading financier and industrialist, a pioneer of railroads in the Kingdom of Poland and in the Russian Empire, known as the King of the Railroads. Founder of financial institutions of the Kingdom of Poland, including Bank Handlowy w Warszawie and the Warsaw Loans Association; long-time President of the Warsaw Stock Exchange; founder of Poland’s first Statistical Office. Initiator of many civic projects, including the foundation of the Warsaw University of Technology. Author of several scientific studies on railroads, finance and loans, land and municipal management; two of his studies were awarded the Golden Medal at the Geographical Congress and the Great Exhibition. Leading promoter of pacifist ideas, participant of the pacifist movement, author of the voluminous study The Future of War In Its Technical, Economic and Political Relations which anticipated the disastrous impact of modern military operations. Candidate for the Noble Prize for Peace in 1901. Organiser of the 1899 International Peace Conference at the Hague. Founder of the first-ever War and Peace Museum in Lucerne, Switzerland. Philanthropist and social activist.
This sketch has been prepared by Mr Andrzej Żor the author of the book "The Antics of History" on the initiative of our Foundation.
Polish candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize During over hundred year-long Nobel Prize history, only one Pole had been honoured with this award – Lech Wałęsa. However, he is not the only one, who contended for it. In between 1901 and 1955 there had been many candidates nominated by several national and foreign organizations (the names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later). The first one was Jan Gottlieb Bloch, a great industrialist and financier, railway builder in the Kingdom of Poland and Russian Empire, commonly named “the king of railway”. Nonetheless, he had been nominated thanks to his peacekeeping, not economic, activity.
The strongest argument for his candidature had been the voluminous book “The future of War” published in 1989. It showed Bloch’s beliefs that in the face of fast technical development, contemporary wars do not make sense, because they lead to a catastrophe. And that is because, there is no society that would be able to bear preparing and going to war. Besides, there are no winners, only losers. Those thesis of Jan de Bloch were supported by strict statistical data, historical facts and prognosis. Already in 1901, in the first edition of Nobel Peace Prize, Bloch collected four nominations from: Beart de la Faille- the member of Permanent International Peace Bureau in Hague, Earl Nigra- Italian senator, former ambassador of Italian Republic in Austria, two Poles- members of International Law Institute, Kasparek and Rostworowski and Philippe Sagnac- the professor of modern history at the University of Lille. Also Stanisław Tarnowski, the provost of the University of Cracow, sent a letter to the Nobel Committee. The reason for the nomination had been- in every proposal- “The Future of War”. Bloch’s masterpiece is even today a great example of right estimates. The First and the Second World Wars showed that today’s wars are total wars and besides mass destruction, they lead to a ruin of world economy.
Bloch had very outstanding competitors: activists of international pacifist movement- Berta von Suttner, Frederic Passy- the originator of International Red Cross- Dunant, the chairman of Permanent Peace Bureau- Ducommun and many others. In the first year there had been 136 nominations. Nevertheless, the amount of candidates was smaller, because some of the names appeared more than ones (for example Jan Gottlieb Bloch). Unfortunately, Bloch’s early death in January 1902 eliminated his candidature from the competition.
Surprisingly, the most often nominated candidate was Ludwik Zamenhoff- a doctor from Warsaw, originator of Esperanto language. Lingua franca was – due to several opinions- a way for people of different nationalities and cultures to understand each other. Ludwik Zamenhoff’s nomination showed up 14 times between 1907 and 1914. Present among candidates were as well: the professor of the University of Lviv Oswald Balzer (1926), Józef Polak (1928)- the activist of a Movement for Peace, and Józef Piłsudski (1934).
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