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Short Rounds

Some Unusual Nobel Peace Prize Nominations

The Nobel Peace Prize is supposedly awarded to someone or some organization that has helped promote peace in the world.  Thus Theodore Roosevelt received it for helping to end the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the International Red Cross was awarded it on several occasions for its work to alleviate suffering, especially in wartime, and so forth.

Over the years there have occasionally been some questions raised about the appropriateness of some of the awards, questions sometimes shared by those who received them, most of whom have, in any case, been rather quickly forgotten.

But if some of the winners have been questionable, a number of the nominations have been downright strange, if not outrageous

  • 1901 Russian Pole Ivan Bloch, for his book The Future of War, which predicted that technology had reached a point where the next war would be a stalemate, and that therefore no one would fight wars any more.
  • 1910 The Turkish "Committee of Union and Progress" (i.e., the "Young Turk" movement), which had imposed a dictatorial, ultranationalist regime on the Ottoman Empire and ultimately involved the country in four successive wars.
  • 1911 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, apparently because he had the most powerful army in Europe
  • 1914 Emperor-King Franz Josef  of Austria-Hungary, probably for being on the throne since 1848, or perhaps for forcibly annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, provoking a crisis that nearly plunged Europe into war, or maybe for having threatened to attack Serbia three or four times over the previous two years.
  • 1917 Kaiser Wilhelm II, for his efforts to bring peace to Europe, apparently by attempting to conquer it.
  • 1934 Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Attaturk, nominated by Greek politician Eleuftherios Venizelos, though he had totally defeated the latter's efforts to conquer Anatolia in 1919-1922.
  • 1934 Polish nationalist leader Józef Klemens Pilsudzki was nominated for the restoration of a free Poland after World War I, thus ignoring the decade of strongman rule that he later imposed on the country.
  • 1935 Benito Mussolini, for his threat to use military force when Hitler attempted to annex Austria in 1934.
  • 1938 Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, apparently because he was the victim of Fascist aggression, though his country had been an absolute monarchy in which slavery was legal.
  • 1939 Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain, for the Munich Pact, with neither man believed would keep the peace more than temporarily.
  • 1945 Joseph Stalin and former Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, for their "efforts to end World War II," though nothing was said about helping to start it with the Nazi-Soviet Pact.
  • 1948 Stalin and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov were nominated for their efforts "to secure peace and democracy during and after World War II," though no mention was made of starting the Cold War.
  • 1950  King Paul I of Greece was nominated for he efforts to end the civil war in his country, mostly through a display of brutality that was hardly distinguishable from that of the Communist insurgents.
  • 1955 The Liberian Parliament nominated President William Tubman for his "pacification" of the several unhappy tribes in the nation, mostly by slaughtering them.

Of these nominations, although still a surprise, the one that had some very real merit was when Venizelos nominated Attaturk.  Awarding the prize to Attaturk on Venizelos' nomination would have underscored the work of both men toward establishing a stable relationship between their two countries following the Graeco-Turkish War, but the Prize that year went to former British Foreign Secretary Arthur Henderson, who presided over the wholly unsuccessful 1932 international disarmament conference.

Footnote:  The Popes.  On five occasions a pope has been nominated; Benedict XV, in 1916 and again in 1920 for his efforts to end World War I; Pius XI in 1939, for his opposition to racism, dictatorship, and totalitarianism; and Pius XII, in 1947 and 1948 for speaking out against mass murder and aerial bombardment during World War II.  None of them was awarded the Peace Prize.  In Benedict's case it was apparently because he tried to avoid blaming anyone for the war, so everyone hated him for it, in Pius XI's because the Western powers were still pretending to make nice to Hitler and Mussolini, and in Pius XII's because he didn't speak out forcibly enough against the Holocaust, preferring vague references about mass murder.  There's also a rumor that an attempt to nominate John Paul II was scotched, largely because of opposition from certain religious groups in Scandinavia

 

"Then Climb Up a Tree . . . "

In March of 1918, the 165th Infantry was in the lines in the Rouge Bouquet forest, near Luneville, in northeastern France.  Although the regiment had taken some casualties from German shelling and trench raids (see CIC No. 250), it had not yet undertaken any forays into No Man's Land.  Planning for the regiment's first offensive action, Major William "Wild Bill" Donovan, commanding the 1st Battalion, turned to 1st Lt. Henry A. Bootz, a platoon leader in Company C, to select and train a raiding party.

Bootz had been born in Germany in 1880, and emigrated to the United States by himself in 1895, when he was 14.  Topping out at 6' 6", the young man eventually joined the army, and by America's entry into World War I was an NCO in the 13th Cavalry.  Although he had four brothers fighting for Kaiser Bill, Bootz was given a commission and assigned to the 165th Infantry, the former 69th New York, a rare German in an otherwise overwhelmingly Irish regiment.  A popular officer -- he was known to pick up and carry exhausted men who had fallen out during grueling forced marches -- Bootz had no trouble finding volunteers from all across the battalion, and ultimately selected 40 men.  He put these men through a short, but intensive training regime in order to prepare them for the operation.

On the evening of March 20th, Bootz's raiders took up their positions in the lines. 

By chance, a private from Company D had fastened a little Irish flag to his rifle.

An officer from another division was present, and objected to the display of a "foreign flag."  Bootz objected to the objector’s objection.  The latter, who ranked Bootz, responded rather heatedly.

Not willing to suffer a fool, Bootz finally asked,  "What are you here for, anyway?"

"I'm an observer."

"Then climb a tree and observe, and let me run this raid."

Covered by a sudden artillery barrage, Bootz and his men went over the top at 7:35 pm, to conduct a highly successful raid,  The orders-of-the-day of the French Seventh Army noted that, "In the course of a raid [Bootz] led a combat group into the enemy's lines, going beyond the objective assigned, and recommenced the same operation eight hours later, giving his men an example of the most audacious bravery.  Returned to our lines carrying one of his men severely wounded."

The U.S. Army awarded Bootz the Distinguished Service Cross. 

Bootz came out of the war as a battalion commander and major in the "National Army," ranking as a captain in the Regulars.  In 1925 he graduated from the General Service School at Leavenworth.  By 1941 he was a 61-year old lieutenant colonel serving with the recently activated National Guard 45th Infantry Division in Louisiana.  After that he seems to have been retired for age, or perhaps died, as there are no further readily available records to be found.   

 


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