Albert Schweitzer


Albert Schweitzer : biography

14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965

For Schweitzer, mankind had to accept that objective reality is ethically neutral. It could then affirm a new Enlightenment through spiritual rationalism, by giving priority to volition or ethical will as the primary meaning of life. Mankind had to choose to create the moral structures of civilization: the world-view must derive from the life-view, not vice-versa. Respect for life, overcoming coarser impulses and hollow doctrines, leads the individual to live in the service of other people and of every living creature. In contemplation of the will-to-life, respect for the life of others becomes the highest principle and the defining purpose of humanity.Civilization and Ethics, Preface and Chapter II, ‘The Problem of the Optimistic World-View’.

Such was the theory which Schweitzer sought to put into practice in his own life. According to some authors, Schweitzer’s thought, and specifically his development of reverence for life, was influenced by Indian religious thought and in particular the Jain principle of ahimsa, or non-violenceAra Paul Barsam (2002) "Albert Schweitzer, jainism and reverence for life" in:Reverence for life: the ethics of Albert Schweitzer for the twenty-first century Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, ISBN 978-0-8156-2977-1 p. 207-08 Albert Schweitzer has noted the contribution of Indian influence in his book Indian Thought and Its Development:Albert Schweitzer and Charles Rhind Joy (1947) Albert Schweitzer: an anthology Beacon Press

Later life

The Schweitzer house and Museum at Königsfeld in the Black Forest. After the birth of their daughter (Rhena Schweitzer Miller), Albert’s wife, Helene Schweitzer was no longer able to live in Lambaréné owing to her health. In 1923 the family moved to Königsfeld im Schwarzwald, Baden-Württemberg, where he was building a house for the family. This house is now maintained as a Schweitzer museum.

Albert Schweitzer’s house at Gunsbach, now a museum and archive. Albert Schweitzer Memorial and Museum in [[Weimar (1984)]] From 1939–48 he stayed in Lambaréné, unable to go back to Europe because of the war. Three years after the end of World War II, in 1948, he returned for the first time to Europe and kept traveling back and forth (and once to the USA) as long as he was able. During his return visits to his home village of Gunsbach, Schweitzer continued to make use of the family house, which after his death became an Archive and Museum to his life and work. His life was portrayed in the 1952 movie Il est minuit, Docteur Schweitzer, starring Pierre Fresnay as Albert Schweitzer and Jeanne Moreau as his nurse Marie. Schweitzer inspired actor Hugh O’Brian when O’Brian visited in Africa. O’Brian returned to the United States and founded the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY). Wagga Wagga, Australia]] The Nobel Peace Prize of 1952 was awarded to Dr Albert Schweitzer. His "The Problem of Peace" lecture is considered one of the best speeches ever given. From 1952 until his death he worked against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons with Albert Einstein, Otto Hahn and Bertrand Russell. In 1957 and 1958 he broadcast four speeches over Radio Oslo which were published in Peace or Atomic War. In 1957, Schweitzer was one of the founders of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. On 23 April 1957, Schweitzer made his "Declaration of Conscience" speech; it was broadcast to the world over Radio Oslo, pleading for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He ended his speech, saying: — at Tennessee Players

Weeks prior to his death, an American film crew was allowed to visit Schweitzer and Drs. Muntz and Friedman, both Holocaust survivors, to record his work and daily life at the hospital. The film The Legacy of Albert Schweitzer, narrated by Henry Fonda, was produced by Warner Brothers and aired once. It resides in their vault today in deteriorating condition. Although several attempts have been made to restore and re-air the film, all access has been denied.