Nobel Peace Prize Recipient. Albert Schweitzer received international recognition after being awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Nobel Prize committee, he was given the covet award "for his altruism, reverence for life, and tireless humanitarian work which has helped making the idea of brotherhood between men and nations a living one." He received 31 nominations for the Nobel candidacy, and nominated six for the candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize, but none received it. Although he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952, he waited until the 1953 presentation ceremony. Born into a family that for generations had been devoted to religion, music and education, his father and grandfather had been ministers, both of his grandfathers played the organ professionally, and many of his relatives were noted scholars. He was of the Lutheran faith. In 1893, Schweitzer studied Protestant theology at the Kaiser Wilhelm University in Strasbourg . He published his PhD thesis at the University of Tübingen in 1899, and a year later, in 1900, he received his licentiate in theology. In 1906, he published "The Quest for the Historical Jesus" on which much of his fame as a theological scholar exists; the book was published in English in 1910. By the time he was 21, he had decided on the course of his life: for the next nine years he would dedicate himself to the study of science, music, and theology, and then devote the rest of his life to serving humanity directly. By the time he turned 30, he became a respected writer on theology and an accomplished organist. In 1904, he decided to become a medical missionary after reading a paper describing the need for medical missions. From 1905 to 1913, he studied medicine at the University of Strasbourg. Immediately after graduation, he founded a missionary hospital, the Hospital Albert Schweitzer, in French Equatorial Africa, which was part of the French colony at the time but since 1960 the independent West African country of Gabon. Since his birthplace was part of the German Empire prior to 1875, he spoke a dialect of the German language and was considered a German citizen and not French. In 1917 during World War I, he and his wife were interned in France for a year as enemy civilians, but they were both released at the end of the war. The couple became French citizens after the war. Schweitzer then returned to Europe, to study modern medicine techniques and to give lectures and concerts on the problems of Africa. In 1923 during a trip to France, his wife and daughter decided to stay in France as his wife's health had declined. In 1924, he returned alone to Lambarene in French Equatorial Africa to rebuilt his abandoned hospital. From 1939 to 1948, he was unable to visit his family with World War II raging in Europe. Traveling to the United States during the war, his wife made tours to solicit funds for the hospital. In Africa, he was doctor and surgeon in the hospital, pastor to the congregation, administrator of a village, writer of scholarly books, musician, and host to countless visitors. Although not able to meet the same standards as European hospitals, he practiced basic health care with what medicine, supplies, staff, and equipment that were available to him. He would spend the remainder of his life in Africa, except for trips to Europe to visit family and one trip to the United States to give lectures and organ concerts. In 1953, he used the monetary portion of the Nobel Prize to expand the hospital and to build a leper colony. Besides the Nobel Prize, he was honored in 1928 with The Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt, which had a monetary prize of thousands of dollars. In 1955, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of Merit, Britain's highest civilian honor. For his work with the Lepers, he was knighted by the Military and Hospital Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, a Roman Catholic honor from France. In the late 1950s, towards the end of his life, he spoke against the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests, believing they did nothing for humanity and could lead to nuclear war. He died at his hospital in Lambarene, Gabon and was buried in the small nearby cemetery with a cross marker that he made himself. He married a registered nurse, who assisted with the duties at the hospital. The couple had only one child, a daughter named Rhena Schweitzer Miller, who became a medical technician in order to manage the hospital after her father until 1970. With European mainly funding, his hospital remained in the management of Europeans until 2011.
Bio by: Linda Davis