Peace: 1934

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Henderson, Arthur (1863-1935), a British statesman, served as president of the World Disarmament Conference from 1932 to 1935. He won the 1934 Nobel Peace Prize. He was elected to Parliament in 1903, and served as chairman of the Labour Party from 1908 to 1910 and from 1914 to 1917.

Henderson was born in poverty in Glasgow. He left school at 12, became an iron molder, and joined the trade-union movement.

Literature: 1934

Pirandello, Luigi, pronounced pihr uhn DEHL oh, loo EE jee (1867-1936), an Italian author, won the 1934 Nobel Prize for literature. Pirandello is known for his philosophic dramas. The best of his plays argue that reality is unknowable, and that truth varies according to the point of view. He claimed we assume numerous roles or masks in our daily lives, none of them our true self. We should thus be wary of passing hasty judgment on others.

Pirandello's best-known play is Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921), a fantasy that highlights the gap between reality and fiction. Henry IV (1922) is a milestone of modern psychological drama that examines the relation between truth and illusion. Pirandello's 1917 play Right You Are (If You Think You Are) is a direct analysis of the relativity of truth. In addition to his 44 plays, Pirandello also published six volumes of poetry and wrote more than 300 short stories. The best of his seven novels is probably The Late Mattia Pascal (1904).

Pirandello was born in Girgenti (Agrigento), Sicily. He earned a doctorate in philology at the University of Bonn in Germany in 1891. He married in 1894 and led a contented life until his wife went insane in 1904. To finance her home care, he taught literature at a girls' school in Rome, enduring his wife's frequent bouts of violent jealousy. His turbulent domestic life helped stimulate the emphasis in his dramas on madness, illusion, and the uncertainty of reality.

Contributor: Frederick C. Wilkins, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of English, Suffolk University.

Medicine: 1934

1) Minot, George Richards pronounced MY nuht, (1885-1950), an American physician, was one of the world's greatest authorities on the functions of blood and on blood diseases. In 1926, he announced the liver treatment for pernicious anemia patients. Minot and his co-worker, the American physician William P. Murphy, showed that when the patients were treated with a diet containing a large amount of liver, the anemia disappeared and the red blood count returned to normal. The discovery opened a new era for patients with anemia, which was a disease that had always been fatal. Minot and Murphy received the 1934 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for this research. They shared the prize with American physician George H. Whipple, who had made the same discovery.

Minot wrote many articles on blood and its disorders. He also wrote about dietary deficiency. He was coauthor of Pathological Physiology and Clinical Description of the Anemias (1936).

Minot was born in Boston, Mass. He received his medical degree from Harvard University in 1912. He was associated with Massachusetts General Hospital from 1918 to 1923. From 1928 to 1948, Minot was professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Boston City Hospital's Thorndike Memorial Laboratory.

Contributor: Daniel J. Kevles, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities, California Institute of Technology.

2) Murphy, William Parry (1892-1987), an American physician, helped develop the first successful treatment for a disease called pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia had always been fatal until Murphy and his colleague George R. Minot discovered that feeding patients large quantities of liver caused the anemia to disappear. Murphy and Minot shared the 1934 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with George H. Whipple, an American medical researcher whose research laid the groundwork for the liver treatment.

Murphy was born in Stoughton, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1914 and taught high school mathematics and physics for two years in Oregon before entering the University of Oregon Medical School. He later received a fellowship to Harvard Medical School in Boston, where he received an M.D. degree in 1922.

Murphy interned at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. He returned to Boston to serve his residency at Peter Bent Brigham (now Brigham and Women's) Hospital, where he met Minot. Minot had treated pernicious anemia patients at another Boston hospital with a liver-rich diet and asked Murphy to do the same at the Brigham. The two doctors announced the results of their study in 1926.

Murphy became Minot's partner in a private medical practice in Boston. He also practiced medicine at the Brigham and taught at Harvard Medical School until he retired in 1958.

3) Whipple, George Hoyt (1878-1976), was an American physician and medical researcher who discovered the relationship between diet and the formation of red blood cells. His discovery cast new light on anemia, a weakened condition that people develop when their red blood cells lack normal hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the substance that makes blood red and that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues.

Whipple experimented on dogs with anemia. When he fed the animals liver, their hemoglobin production increased and their anemia disappeared. This research led to use of a diet rich in liver to treat human patients with pernicious anemia, a disease that had always been fatal. American physicians George R. Minot and William P. Murphy developed the liver treatment in 1926. For their discoveries, Whipple, Minot, and Murphy received the 1934 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

Whipple was born in Ashland, New Hampshire. He graduated from Yale University in 1900, received an M.D. degree from the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in 1905, and joined the staff of Johns Hopkins. In 1914, he became director of the Hooper Foundation for Medical Research at the University of California at San Francisco. From 1921 to 1953, Whipple served as dean of medicine at the University of Rochester in New York. There he continued to work on blood and especially on thalassemia, a hereditary form of anemia caused by a defect in the hemoglobin molecule.

Chemistry: 1934

Urey, Harold Clayton pronounced YOO ree, (1893-1981), was an American chemist who made important contributions in two main fields. During his early career, he conducted research on isotopes. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that differ in mass-that is, in the amount of matter they contain. Different isotopes of an element have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their nucleus. Urey's later work centered on the history and chemical nature of the solar system. During the late 1960's and early 1970's, he played a prominent role in the interpretation of lunar samples gathered by Apollo astronauts.

Urey won the 1934 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of deuterium, a rare isotope of hydrogen. During World War II (1939-1945), he directed a laboratory where isotopes of boron, hydrogen, and uranium were produced for use in the development of the atomic bomb. Urey's study of Earth and the solar system began after the war. He calculated the temperature of ancient oceans by determining the amount of certain isotopes in fossil shells. He also studied the chemical makeup of the sun, moon, and planets and formulated theories on the origin of the solar system.

Urey was born in Walkerton, Indiana, on April 29, 1893. He earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1923. He served on the faculty of Columbia University from 1929 to 1945, at the University of Chicago from 1945 to 1958, and at the University of California at San Diego from 1958 until his death on Jan. 5, 1981.

Contributor: Daniel J. Kevles, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities, California Institute of Technology.

Physics: 1934

There was no award offered in 1934.

Peace: 1933

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1) Angell, Sir Norman (1874-1967), a British publicist and economist, worked for cooperation among nations. He was awarded the 1933 Nobel Peace Prize. During most of his life, he worked as a journalist and wrote more than two dozen books. His most famous book, The Great Illusion (1910), sums up the economic disasters of war. Angell was born at Holbeach, England. He was knighted in 1930.

2) League of Nations was an international association of countries created to maintain peace among the nations of the world. The victors of World War I (1914-1918) including Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States--drew up a covenant (constitution) for the League in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson of the United States was the chief planner of the League of Nations. The League was established in January 1920, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization ceased to function after World War II began in 1939. It was formally dissolved in April 1946, and the United Nations took its place.

Wilson had believed that world wars would continue to occur as long as each nation was responsible for its own defense. Under this condition, nations would form competing groups, each arming against the other. Wilson wanted the nations of the world to join together in the League of Nations, and pledge to defend the territory and independence of any member attacked by another nation. He believed that even a powerful nation, knowing it would face the united opposition of all other powerful nations, would not go to war.

Wilson got other countries to agree to his plans for the League, but he and members of the U.S. Senate differed over the terms on which the United States would join. In March 1920, the U.S. Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, which would have made the United States a member. Within a few years, most Americans decided there was no need to concern themselves with conflicts overseas, and the United States never did join the League of Nations.

Powers and organization

The League Covenant contained articles pledging member nations to preserve the independence and territory of all members against attack. Members agreed to submit any disputes that might lead to war either to arbitration (decision by a third party) or to an investigation by the League Council. They promised not to go to war with any member that agreed to the recommendations of a court of arbitration or the League Council. If any member went to war in violation of these articles, member nations agreed they would apply economic sanctions (penalties), such as stopping trade with the offending nation. At the League Council's request, they would also use military force against that nation.

The Council was the principal peacekeeping agency. Its size varied from 8 to 14 members during the League's history. The most powerful members of the League had permanent seats on the Council. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union held permanent seats during the years they were members of the League. The remaining seats were rotated among the small nations of the League. Recommendations of the Council had to be decided by unanimous vote.

The Assembly was composed of all member nations, and each member had one vote. The Assembly controlled the League budget, admitted new members, elected the temporary Council members, and made amendments to the Covenant. On these matters, the Assembly could decide by a two-thirds or a majority vote. The Assembly also could discuss threats to the peace. It needed a majority vote plus the votes of all Council members to recommend on such a matter.

The Secretariat provided the administrative staff of the League. A secretary-general, who was nominated by the Council and approved by the Assembly, headed a staff of about 600 officials. These officials assisted the peacekeeping work of the League and provided personnel for special study commissions on disarmament, the protection of ethnic minorities, and colonial affairs. The Secretariat also staffed the various international organizations set up by the League to promote cooperation in international trade, finance, transportation, communication, health, and science.

The League in action

Wilson and the other statesmen who designed the League hoped it would lead nations to stop seeking protection through special alliances. Instead, they favored a system of collective security, in which the security of each member would be guaranteed by the protection of all. For collective security to work, it was essential that all League members--especially the most powerful ones--come to the aid of any member attacked. Neither the Council nor the Assembly could force members to help an attacked nation. Such action had to be voluntary. Each member had to believe a threat to the peace of any nation was a threat to its own peace.

Disagreement among members. The most powerful nations did not agree that collective security was the main purpose of the League. France saw the League mainly as an instrument to maintain the territorial settlement and arms restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I. The Germans resented the League because it seemed to them, too, that this was the League's real purpose. British leaders saw it as a meeting place for powerful nations to consult in the event of a threat to peace. But they did not want to commit themselves to do anything that might have threatened their security or prosperity. The Soviet Union believed the League was an imperialist fraud because Communism taught that war was inevitable among capitalist nations. During the 1930's, Japan and Italy showed their disregard for collective security by attacking member nations.

Japan withdrew from the League in 1933 because the League refused to recognize its conquest of Manchuria. Germany, admitted to the League in 1926, withdrew in 1933 because the League would not change the arms limitations imposed on Germany after World War I. An arms build-up by Germany under dictator Adolf Hitler led the Soviet Union to join the League in 1934. Italy withdrew from the League in 1937 to join Japan and Germany in an alliance against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was expelled in 1939 for attacking Finland.

The League achieved some success in ending armed conflicts between small nations. For example, it ended fighting between Greece and Bulgaria in 1925, and between Poland and Lithuania in 1927. But when a powerful nation was involved, the League was ineffective.

Why the League failed was most dramatically illustrated when Italy attacked Ethiopia in October 1935. The Council declared that Italy had violated the Covenant. This action obligated League members to apply economic sanctions and to consider the use of force against Italy. Members agreed to stop all imports from Italy and to send no money or war material to Italy.

But the United States, Japan, and Germany were not members. Thus, the overwhelming "community of power" that Wilson originally had in mind for use against an aggressor was reduced to three nations--Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The other League members did not have enough power to affect Italian policy. Even so, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union would have been able to stop the Italian attack, if they had been united and determined to do so.

However, Britain and France were not willing to use force or to employ measures that might risk war. They failed to use strong economic measures, such as an oil embargo, which would have seriously hurt the Italian war effort. By May 1936, Italy had conquered Ethiopia. The League canceled its sanctions in July.

The French and British shared responsibility for the League's failure during the Ethiopian crisis. France feared that strong League action might lead Italy to join Germany in an anti-French alliance. The British feared that Italy might attack the British-controlled Suez Canal or even launch air strikes against English cities. Neither government was prepared to face such risks. The Ethiopian case completely discredited the League as an instrument to keep peace.

Contributor: Gary B. Ostrower, Ph.D., Professor of History, Alfred University.

The Members of League of Nations

The following nations were the original members of the League. Many other nations joined later, and many withdrew from the League before it was disbanded in April 1946.

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Belgium
  4. Bolivia
  5. Brazil
  6. Britain
  7. Canada
  8. Chile
  9. China
  10. Colombia
  11. Cuba
  12. Czechoslovakia
  13. Denmark
  14. El Salvador
  15. France
  16. Greece
  17. Guatemala
  18. Haiti
  19. Honduras
  20. India
  21. Iran
  22. Italy
  23. Japan
  24. Liberia
  25. Netherlands
  26. New Zealand
  27. Nicaragua
  28. Norway
  29. Panama
  30. Paraguay
  31. Peru
  32. Poland
  33. Portugal
  34. Romania
  35. South Africa
  36. Spain
  37. Sweden
  38. Switzerland
  39. Thailand
  40. Uruguay
  41. Venezuela
  42. Yugoslavia