Nobel Winner’s Absence May Delay Awarding of Prize
By ANDREW JACOBS and ALAN COWELL
Published: November 18, 2010
BEIJING ― During the depths of the cold war, when the Soviet physicist and human rights advocate Andrei D. Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Kremlin barred him from leaving the country. But the authorities allowed his wife to collect the award in his stead.
Confronted with a similar challenge in 1983, the Polish authorities permitted the wife of the trade unionist Lech Walesa to travel to Oslo on his behalf. In 1991, the son of the Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered the acceptance speech for his mother, who was being held under house arrest.
But the Chinese government has come up with a less magnanimous approach to the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to give the peace prize to the dissident Liu Xiaobo, 54, who is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion. Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, has been held incommunicado since news of the award broke last month, and the government has been waging a muscular offensive to rebrand the prize as a Western ploy to undermine the Chinese Communist Party’s hold on power.
According to the Nobel Web site, the last time no one was present to accept the peace medal was in 1936, when the German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky was not allowed to leave Nazi Germany.
Mr. Ossietzky had been held in Nazi concentration camps in the 1930s and, although the German Propaganda Ministry publicly declared that he was free to go to Norway, “secret police documents indicate that Ossietzky was refused a passport,” according to the Nobel Web site. Ill with tuberculosis, he was later sent to a hospital in Berlin, where he was kept under constant surveillance until his death in May 1938.
The Nobel Prizes
The Nobel Peace Prize 1935
Carl von Ossietzky
Carl von Ossietzky
The Nobel Peace Prize 1935 was awarded to Carl von Ossietzky.
Carl von Ossietzky received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1936. During the selection process in 1935, the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided that none of the year's nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation's statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied. Carl von Ossietzky therefore received his Nobel Prize for 1935 one year later, in 1936.