Reviews of and Quotes From Dr. Schweitzer's Books

Here are my reviews of some of Albert Schweitzer's books. It is far from a comprehensive list of Schweitzer's books. All are English translations from French or German. Some of them are out of print, but generally can be found in a good research library or by a book search from a good used-book dealer. Also included here are reviews of compilations of his writings. See The Albert Schweitzer Page for reviews of books about Dr. Schweitzer and related information.

Peace or Atomic War?

Written By:  Albert Schweitzer

Reviewed Edition:  Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1958

Hardcover, 47 pages

No ISBN Shown


Table of Contents

This book contains the text of three appeals by Albert Schweitzer broadcast from Oslo, Norway, on April 28, 29 and 30, 1958. The appeals were rebroadcast and reprinted in many countries. The first calls for a halt to nuclear tests, the second concerns the immense danger of atomic war, and the third prescribes the process to be used in getting nuclear powers to abandon nuclear weapons.

At that time, many people in the free world were being assured of the harmlessness of the radiation produced by above-ground nuclear testing. In his first appeal, Schweitzer uses his prestige to draw attention to scientific findings of the danger of radiation, and the immorality of inflicting this danger on all the peoples of the world during nuclear weapons testing. The next two appeals deal with the inherent danger of policies of mutually assured destruction and the importance of nuclear disarmament. As is typical of Schweitzer, his hope for the future lies not solely in political maneuvering, but rather in the development of a spirit of love and respect in and for all the people of the world.

Quotes from Peace or Atomic War?

"Of course, neither the United States nor the Soviet Union is thinking of producing this less effective [clean] bomb for use in a possible war. The U.S. Department of Defense has quite recently declared that the irradiation of whole areas has become a new offensive weapon.

The clean hydrogen bomb is intended for window display only, not for use. The bomb is to encourage people to believe that future nuclear tests will be followed by less and less radiation, and that there is no argument against the continuation of these tests."

"We are constantly being told about a 'permissible amount of radiation.' Who permitted it? Who has any right to permit it?"

"This propaganda [about the safety of nuclear tests] will continue to set the tone in certain newspapers. But beside it the truth about the danger of nuclear tests marches imperturbably along, influencing an ever-increasing section of public opinion. In the long run, even the most efficiently organized propaganda can do nothing against the truth."

"Past, too, is the time when NATO generals and European governments can decide on the establishment of launching sites and the stockpiling of atomic weapons. The dangers of atomic war and its consequences are now such that these decisions have ceased to be purely matters of politics and can be valid only with the sanction of public opinion."

"The fact is that the testing and use of nuclear weapons carry in themselves the absolute reasons for being renounced. Prior agreement on any other conditions cannot be considered. Both cause the deepest damage to human rights. The tests, in that they do harm to peoples far from the territories of the nuclear powers and endanger their lives and their health--and this in peacetime; an atomic war, in that the resulting radioactivity would make uninhabitable the land of peoples not participating in such a war. It would be the most unimaginably senseless and cruel way of endangering the existence of mankind. That is why it dare not become reality.

The three nuclear powers [U.S.A., Soviet Union, and England] owe it to themselves and to mankind to reach agreement on these absolute essentials without first dealing with prior conditions."

"But we live in a time when the good faith of peoples is doubted more than ever before. Expressions throwing doubt on the trustworthiness of each other are bandied back and forth. They are based on what happened in the First World War when the nations experienced dishonesty, injustice, and inhumanity from one another. How can a new trust come about? And yet, it must.

We cannot continue in this paralyzing mistrust. If we want to work our way out of the desperate situation in which we find ourselves, another spirit must enter into the people. It can only come if the awareness of its necessity suffices to give us strength to believe in its coming. We must presuppose the awareness of this need in all the peoples who have suffered along with us. We must approach them in the spirit that we are human beings, all of us, and that we feel ourselves fitted to feel with each other; to think and will together in the same way.

The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics. We have reached the point of regarding each other only as members of a people either allied with us or against us and our approach; prejudice, sympathy, or antipathy are all conditioned by that. Now we must rediscover the fact that we--all together--are human beings, and that we must strive to concede to each other what moral capacity we must have. Only in this way can we begin to believe that in other peoples as well as in ourselves there will arise the need for a new spirit which can be the beginning of a feeling of mutual trustworthiness toward each other. The spirit is a mighty force for transforming things. We have seen it at work as the spirit of evil which virtually threw us back from striving toward a culture of the spirit into barbarism. Now let us set our hopes on the spirit's bringing peoples and nations back to an awareness of culture."

Table of Contents of Peace or Atomic War?

    No Table of Contents is included.

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