Document 9: "Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee Against Scientific Warfare," 4 May 1925. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Collection, I-6-22, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, WILPF Papers, 1915-1978 (Microfilm, Reel 103, frames 1737-1739).
After Gertrud Woker, Naima Sahlbom, and Ester Akesson-Beskow formed the International Committee Against Scientific Warfare at the Fourth International Congress of WILPF, held in Washington D.C. in 1924, the chairs of the national committees worked actively to ban chemical warfare. At this 1925 meeting, members discussed their progress as well as future efforts to influence public opinion and to enlist support from the scientific community on behalf of their campaign.
WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM
Central office: Geneva, 12 rue du Vieux College
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M I N U T E S
of the meeting of the Committee against Scientific Warfare
Geneva, May 1925.
PRELIMINARY MEETING, May 4th.
Dr. Sahlbom is the chair.
Present: Dr. Ethel Williams (England), Frida Perlen (Germany), Marguerite Cobat (Switzerland), Vilma Glucklich (Hungary).
Dr. Sahlbom welcomes the delegates, expressing the hope that some more, especially the delegate of the French section, will be present at our deliberations. She gives a report of the work that has been done in carrying out the resolutions of the Berlin meeting . . . . The first topic of our discussion must be: what action can be taken in connection with the League of Nations Conference on Traffic in Arms.
Frida Perlen suggests to act in conformity with our traditions: send a Memorandum to the President of the Conference and give its text to the Press.
Dr. Williams reads the suggestions which the British Section recommends to be given to members of the Conference, if we can get into touch with them . . . .
Frida Perlen, Marguerite Cobat and Vilma Glucklich oppose our giving suggestions for the traffic in arms, which we cannot but disapprove altogether.
Dr. Williams points out that in resolutions of our former Congresses in 1915 and 1919, we made suggestions concerning traffic in arms.
Vilma Glucklich suggests to send only to the Press a Manifesto restating our principles re disarmament and the danger of scientific weapons, and to send copies of it to the individual members of the Conference.
Dr. Sahlbom suggests to send the same text to the Press and to the Conference.
Dr. Williams says it out of order to make suggestions which go beyond the remit of the Conference.
Marguerite Cobat reminds that many a Conference has gone beyond the Agenda on which it had started.
Agreed as to the interview with Paul Honcoury to present separately the suggestions of the British Section.
Minutes of the business-meetings at Geneva
of the Committee against Scientific Warfare,
May 4th-9th, 1925.
Present: besides the above mentioned delegates, Mme. Guyiesse (France).
Vilma Glucklich reports on the questions that have been discussed, leaving the decisions until after the arrival of the French delegate.
I. A proposal of Frida Perlen to suggest that Prof. Langevin[A] may ask personally two of three very prominent French and German colleagues to sign his declaration, and that it may be sent out with the French and German signatures to the scientists of other countries.
Mme. Guyiesse transmits the proposal of the French Section to send or present the declaration to scientists in different countries, asking them either to sign it or to write a declaration of their own. If several declarations can be obtained, to publish them in a booklet.
Agreed to accept the proposals of Frida Perlen and of the French Section together: try first to obtain the signatures of a few very prominent French and German scientists through Prof. Langevin and afterwards proceed according to the suggestion of the French Section.
Mme. Guyiesse presents a second proposal of the French Section: to suggest to scientists in each country to form small Committees for this kind of work, which could unite afterwards in an International Committee of scientists. Prof. Langevin thinks that Prof. Charles Richet, Prof. Adamard of the College of France and Dr. Rivet of the Museum would be willing to form such a Committee with him in France.
Dr. Williams moves to invite Dr. Alice Hamilton to join our International Committee against Scientific Warfare, to work in cooperation with the representative of the U. S Section for a small Committee of scientists there, and to send us her suggestions for further work.
Dr. Williams is of opinion that with English scientists the best way to work would be to present to them Langevin’s declaration and to ask them to work on the same lines. They could hardly be induced to form a committee of their own.
Mme. Guyiesse points out that the French Section proposes to distribute widely the declaration with the first signatures.
Dr. Williams suggests that the first signers of the declaration may be asked to forward it to their colleagues in other countries.
Mme. Guyiesse asks for names of very prominent scientists in other countries.
Einstein, Ostwald and Count Arco in Germany, Eddington and Soddy in England, Marcini in Italy are suggested.
Vilma Glucklich reads the declaration of Langevin and suggests to read it in public at the evening meeting.
Frida Perlen and Dr. Williams opposed to its publication before the first signatures are obtained.
Agreed to begin by asking Prof. Langevin and those scientists who sign his declaration first, to get into personal touch with their colleagues abroad.
[Report] of the Committee against Scientific Warfare,
May 4th - 9th, 1925.
II. Dr. Sahlbom presents a list of literature which she would like to be studied by the expert members of our Committee, asking them to report on the most important works.
Agreed to make a choice of the most important works and to recommend them for study.
III. Vilma Glucklich reads a draft Memorandum to be sent to the President of the League of Nations Conference, to the President of each delegation there and to the Press.
Accepted with modifications of Dr. Williams.New Matter taken up with Mme. Guyiesse present.
Frida Perlen suggests to discuss at the Ex. Meeting an appeal to be sent to the International Federation of Trade Unions, asking them to co-operate with the scientists who will have signed the declaration of Prof. Langevin, or drafted a declaration of their own, against the manufacture of scientific arms. She points out the great importance of informing the workers and to get their cooperation and at the same time the difficulty for them of refusing to work for destructive purposes.
Mme.Guyiesse, Dr. Williams also emphasized the financial difficulty of providing for the existence of those who would be inclined to do so.
Marguarita Gobat and Dr. Williams do not consider it the task of our League to do more than give the suggestion to the [International Federation of Trade Unions]. Our Committee can only put it before the Executive Meeting in July.
Agreed to put the proposal and possibly the draft appeal before the sections, as a suggestion for the Agenda of the July meeting.
Mme. Guyiesse presents the draft of a leaflet of propaganda, which is proposed by the French Section to be widely distributed in France and it other countries.
As it does not contain any new material of propaganda, it is left to the French Section to have it printed; some of the other sections might wish to take it over afterwards.
Mme. Guyiesse proposes that each section should try to get the material for a leaflet to be issued in their country, containing a comparison between the military budget and the expense for cultural purposes, as it has been done in the United States before.
As all the sections have seen the American leaflet in reprint in our own publications, we can simply call the attention to it. It is not for the Committee to recommend material for general propaganda.
Dr. Sahlbom presents
1) the answer of Dr. Holmgren and of the Swedish Red Cross to the appeal of our Committee.
2) statistics on preparedness for Chemical Warfare in different countries.
Dr. Holmgren's answer will be added to the material which is to be published later. Statistics will be sent out on request by the Geneva office.
A. Professor Paul Langevin, a French physicist, was perhaps the strongest professional supporter of the WILPF campaign against Chemical Warfare. His declaration of support caused many French and German colleagues to support the campaign.
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