Schweitzer 1875 - 1965 (90)

One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.


Out of My Life and Thought

Albert Schweitzer was born on January 14, 1875, in Alsace, Germany, the son of a local pastor of the Lutheran church.. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Strasbourg and in 1899 received his doctorate. Following the family tradition (his family numbered several generations of clergy), he was ordained a pastor in 1899 and began operating in a church in Strasbourg. In 1902 he was a dean at the Theological School of the University of Strasbourg, a lecturer in two chairs (theology and philosophy) and a pastor at St. Nicholas Church. At the same time he wrote on religious topics: "Searching for Historical Jesus", philosophically: an analysis of Kant's philosophy, music: Bach's biography, as well as manuals for building church organs.

In 1904 he read an invitation from the Missionary Society of Paris for the urgent need for medical staff in Gabon (French colony at the time) and decided study medicine and go to Africa to help. Many thought he was crazy; he got his degree at 38 in surgery and tried to go to Africa, but the Parish Mission rejected him because they did not want a liberal in their fields. Schweitzer and his nurse wife were involved in a fundraising campaign to build their own hospital in Gabon and they succeeded. They went to Africa where Schweitzer initially provided medical services in huts until a regular hospital was built.

When World War I broke out and German Schweitzer was on French soil, he was arrested and taken to a Pyrenean camp as a prisoner of war. After the end of the war, the Schweitzer couple returned to Alsace and they had a daughter. In 1920, Schweitzer published his view of 'respect for life', a kind of universal moral philosophy that all creation has value and that man is part of a wider chain from which he cannot be separated. In 1924 he returned to Africa leaving behind his wife and daughter whom he would rarely see since then, as he dedicating himself to providing medical assistance to the depleted Gabon. In 1952 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1958 he published the book "Peace or Nuclear War?" with arguments that became theoretical weapons against nuclear weapons.

Schweitzer left the world on September 4, 1965, a few months after his 90th birthday.