Wars, Rows And Scandals: When The Nobels Didn't Go As Planned
Sumaira FH 25 days ago Thu 01st October 2020 | 09:00 AM
Stockholm, Oct 1 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Oct, 2020 ) :Wars, jailed laureates and diplomatic rows have occasionally put the brakes on the Nobel prizes through the years. This time it is the coronavirus pandemic that has thwarted plans, and while prize announcements will go ahead next week, December festivities will be scaled back.
The traditional December 10 awards ceremony and banquet in Stockholm honouring the laureates in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics has been replaced by a televised event where the winners will receive their prizes in their home countries.
Here are some previous occasions when the Nobels didn't go as planned.
- Prizes not awarded - The committees tasked with selecting Nobel laureates in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics can refrain from awarding the prize. The Nobel Foundation's statutes say this is possible when no work or research is deemed worthy.
Not awarding the prize can also be an honour. In 1948, several months after the death of Mahatma Gandhi, the Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded, a homage to the Indian pacifist who never won the prize -- widely considered a historic omission. The committee at the time said "there was no suitable living candidate".
In total, 49 prizes have not been awarded since the first Nobels in 1901, most of them in the field of peace (16 times).
The prize can also be postponed.
That was the case in 2018, when a scandal engulfed the Swedish academy which selects the literature prizewinner. The 2018 prize was awarded instead the following year, to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk.
- World wars - While Sweden remained neutral during the two world wars, the Nobel committees often refrained from awarding the prizes, especially during World War II. Both moral and logistical reasons were cited, as well as the fact that the committees in Stockholm no longer had access to scientific publications.
Norway, which awards the peace prize, was meanwhile occupied by Nazi Germany from April 1940. The peace prize was not awarded between 1939 and 1945, when the 1944 prize was awarded retroactively to the Red Cross.
- Absent friends - In 1924, organisers cancelled the formal prize ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo because of a combination of ailing laureates, including Polish writer Wladyslaw Reymont, and the fact that the chemistry and peace prizes were not awarded.
That was the only time the ceremonies have been cancelled in peacetime.
Meanwhile, the celebratory banquet traditionally held after the December 10 prize ceremony at Stockholm's City Hall was cancelled in 1956 to avoid inviting the Soviet ambassador because of the repression of the Hungarian Revolution. An unofficial, smaller dinner was organised instead.
Several laureates have over the years been unable to attend the Nobel ceremony for political reasons.
In the case of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet writer was forced to decline his 1970 literature prize, fearing that he would not be able to return to his country should he travel to receive it. He finally accepted the award four years later.
- Declined prizes - Several laureates have declined their prizes, including two who did so of their own will.
French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre turned the literature prize down in 1964, and although Russian author Boris Pasternak accepted it in 1958, Soviet authorities later forced him to decline it.
In 1973, Vietnam's peace negotiator Le Duc Tho refused to share the peace prize with US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, arguing that the ceasefire ending the Vietnam War was not being respected. Kissinger meanwhile refused to travel to Oslo for the prize ceremony because of the risk of protests, and was replaced by the US ambassador.
In the 1930s, three German scientists were awarded Nobels: Richard Kuhn (1938) and Adolf Butenandt (1939) in chemistry, and Gerhard Domagt (1939) in medicine. But Hitler -- outraged over the prize to Von Ossietzky -- barred any German from accepting a Nobel, and they were forced to decline their prizes. They received their Nobels after the war.