The Dangerous Prize
09 June 2016–26 Feb 2017
An exhibition about whistleblower Carl von Ossietzky and the Nobel Peace Prize that shook Europe.
The Nobel Peace Prize for 1935 is one of history’s most controversial. But awarding the prize to the German journalist, editor and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky would become known as one of the committee’s most important – and most justified – decisions. The Nobel Peace Prize that was announced 80 years ago – one year delayed – went to the fearless pacifist who warned the world about German remilitarization in breach of the Treaty of Versailles before WW2.
The prize to Ossietzky was a dangerous one. For the first time, the Nobel Peace Prize went to a dissident convicted for treason. In the Nobel Committee, internal disagreement prevailed, and two of its members stepped down by fear of German reactions. The Norwegian Royal Family chose not to attend the ceremony. The press debate was fierce, both in Norwegian and international newspapers. In Germany, Hitler was outraged when he heard the news.
A rude provocation.
(Joseph Goebbels, German minister of Propaganda)
Ossietzky himself paid a high prize for his freedom of expression, but when he went to serve his sentence for treason, he said: “I do not bend, I demonstrate.”
I do not bend, I demonstrate.
(Carl von Ossietzky)
Who was this fearless critic and whistleblower, and why did awarding him the Peace Prize create such a furore? In the exhibition The Dangerous Prize, we go behind the scenes of the Peace Prize that shook Europe and shed new light to Ossietzky’s life and to the work of the Nobel Committee.
Carl von Ossietzky fought and died for peace and for freedom of expression. He continues to inspire many people, but despite the fact that freedom of expression is a burning topic in today’s society, Ossietzky has been largely forgotten. With this exhibition, we want to give him the place he deserves among the most iconic Peace Prize laureates, and help his story live on.
The exhibition is developed in cooperation with the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, and with the support of Fritt Ord, Goethe-Institut,The Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s gift reinforcement programme and the UNESCO-commission.