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Ludwig Quidde

Portrait of Ludwig Quidde on German stamp
Born March 23, 1858(1858-03-23)
Bremen
Died March 4, 1941 (aged 82)
Genf
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place Genf
Residence Germany
Known for Nobel Peace Prize

Ludwig Quidde (March 23, 1858 ‚Äď March 4, 1941) was a German pacifist who is mainly remembered today for his acerbic criticism of German Emperor Wilhelm II. Quidde's long career spanned four different eras of German history: that of Bismarck (up to 1890); the Hohenzollern Empire under Wilhelm II (1888 - 1918); the Weimar Republic (1918‚Äď1933); and, finally, Nazi Germany. In 1927, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Born into a wealthy bourgeois merchant family, Quidde grew up in Bremen, read history and also got involved in the activities of the German Peace Society (Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft). In his younger years he had already opposed Bismarck's policies. In 1881 he received his PhD at the University of G√∂ttingen. In 1894 Quidde published a 17-page pamphlet entitled Caligula. Eine Studie √ľber r√∂mischen Caesarenwahnsinn (Caligula: A Study of Imperial Insanity). Containing 79 footnotes, the short essay is exclusively about the Roman Empire of the 1st century AD. However, Quidde drew an implicit parallel between the Roman Emperor Caligula and Wilhelm II, de facto accusing both rulers of megalomania. The author had insisted on publishing his pamphlet under his real name, which effectively ended his academic career as a historian when, in some periodical, a short review explained the parallels which otherwise might have gone unnoticed. After he made a derogatory comment on a new medal in honour of William the Great, German Emperor from 1871 to 1888, he was criminally convicted of l√®se majest√©, and sentenced to three months in prison, which he served in Stadelheim Prison.

After the end of the First World War, Quidde belonged to those who vehemently opposed the Treaty of Versailles. However, while German militarists mainly deplored the vast restrictions laid upon the German armed forces and the impending economic disaster that would be caused by payment of the high reparations that were decreed, German pacifists, thinking ahead and hoping that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson would win the day, pointed out that such severe conditions would already sow the seeds of a new war:

Ein gedem√ľtigtes, zerrissenes und zu k√ľmmerlichem wirtschaftlichen Dasein verdammtes deutsches Volk w√§re ebenso eine stete Gefahr f√ľr den Weltfrieden, wie ein in seinen unver√§u√üerlichen Rechten und Daseinsbedingungen gesch√ľtztes eine starke St√ľtze desselben sein w√ľrde.
M√∂gen jene, die heute die Macht haben, √ľber den n√§chsten Tag hinaus an die Zukunft der Menschheit denken. Eine ungeheure Verantwortung liegt auf ihnen. Etwas ganz Neues kann heute zum Segen aller V√∂lker geschaffen werden. Kurzsichtiger Missbrauch der heutigen Macht kann alles verderben.
A humiliated and torn German nation condemned to economic misery would be a constant danger to world peace, just as a protected German nation whose inalienable rights and subsistence are safeguarded would be a strong pillar of such world peace.
May those who are in power today think beyond this day and consider the future of mankind. Their responsibility is enormous. Today, an altogether new order can be created for the benefit of all peoples. Short-sighted misuse of that power can ruin everything.
("Announcement of the German Peace Society", November 15, 1918, co-authored by Quidde)

When Hitler came to power in 1933 Quidde escaped to Switzerland, finally settling down in Geneva for the rest of his days. He remained an optimist throughout his life. Aged 76, he published his essay "Landfriede und Weltfriede" (1934) at a time when militarism was again on the rise, believing that modern technology might serve as a deterrent from war:

[‚Ķ] die Entwicklung der Technik, die den modernen Krieg immer mehr zu einem selbstm√∂rderischen Wahnsinn gemacht hat, dem Kriege ein Ende setzen wird. Das hat im Grunde genommen schon Kant vorausgesehen, der die Schaffung eines "ewigen Friedens" nicht etwa von einer Hebung der Moral erwartete, sondern vom Kriege, der so unertr√§glich werden w√ľrde, dass die Menschheit sich gen√∂tigt sehen w√ľrde, den Frieden zu sichern.
[It is] today's technological development which has turned modern war into a suicidal nightmare and which will put an end to war. This was already predicted by Kant, who expected "perpetual peace" to be established not due to the moral perfection of man but due to modern warfare, which would be so unbearable that mankind would see itself forced to guarantee everlasting peace.

Ludwig Quidde died in his Swiss exile in 1941, aged 83.

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