Élie Ducommun

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Élie Ducommun (1902)

Élie Ducommun (born February 19, 1833 in Geneva , † December 7, 1906 in Bern ) was a Swiss journalist , politician, businessman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate . He was State Chancellor of the Canton of Geneva (1862 to 1865), co-editor of the newspaper "Les États-Unis d'Europe" (1868), founding member of the Swiss People's Bank (1869), secretary of the Jura-Simplon Railway (1873-1903) and director of the "International Permanent Peace Office" (1891–1906). On December 10, 1902, he received the Nobel Peace Prize together with Charles Albert Gobat .

Bust of Elie Ducommun in the Saint-Jean park in Geneva

Professional and political career

After a detour as a private tutor in Saxony , Ducommun returned to Geneva in 1853. The trained journalist and staunch liberal was a Grand Councilor of the Canton of Geneva from 1858 to 1862 . He was then appointed State Chancellor of the Canton of Geneva, a function that lasted until 1865.

As editor of the political newspaper "Progrès" in Delémont , 1865–1868, he came into contact with the peace movement that was flourishing in some European countries at the time . After founding the "League for Peace and Freedom" (1868) he was editor of its bulletins "Les États-Unis d'Europe" (The United States of Europe ).

As the editor of “Progrès” he also became a well-known personality in the canton of Bern . In 1868 he was elected to the Grand Council, where he remained until 1877. In 1872 he was a co-founder of the "Cercle démocratique romand", a political party that later renamed itself "Parti National Romand". From 1874 to 1877, Ducommun was a member of the city council and translator of the municipal assembly of the city of Biel / Bienne . He was also an employee of the local regional newspaper " Journal du Jura ".


Elie Ducommun, Freemason of the Lodge of Hope in Bern and Swiss Grand Master - Photo: Bibl. De Genève

Ducommun did not lose sight of the goal of international peace, even if other business interests moved him from time to time. In order to offer the Swiss workers a bank with favorable conditions, he founded the Schweizerische Volksbank in 1869. It was in keeping with his conviction that social peace in a democratic community depends crucially on the financial security of the workers .

In addition to his work as a member of parliament , from 1873 onwards, as Secretary General, Ducommun devoted himself to the construction of the Jura-Bern-Luzern -Bahn (JBL). The Jura-Simplon-Bahn emerged from the merger of JBL , where he worked as general secretary until 1903.

Peace politician

Ducommun's work for peace was rather inconspicuous but effective. He became a pioneer of the peace movement not through spectacular actions, but through persistent work. With Pierre Jolissaint and James Fazy , he organized an international peace conference in Genève in 1867. Ducommun was one of the founders of the League for Peace and Freedom in 1868. At the 3rd conference of the "Interparliamentary Union" in Rome in 1891, Ducommun was elected head of the " Bureau International Permanent de la Paix " (in German: "International Permanent Peace Office" ) based in Bern. Initially on a voluntary basis, from 1903 until his death in 1906, as full-time Secretary General . In this function he had to coordinate the activities of the numerous national peace organizations. For his work as Secretary General of the Peace Office, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1902 .


  • Derniers sourires: Poésies précédées d'une notice biographique , Bern 1908
  • Discours sur l'oeuvre de la paix prononcé à Genève le 23 may 1893 , Bern 1893
  • The Permanent International Bureau of Peace , The Independent March 19, 1903
  • Précis historique du mouvement en faveur de la paix , Bern 1899
  • Sourires: Poésies , Biel 1887


  • Brassel-Moser, Ruedi : "Elie Ducommun - the indispensable mediator", in: "The Nobel Peace Prize from 1901 to today" / red. Head: Michael Neumann. Zug 1987, Vol. 1, pp. 136-147
  • Mauermann, Helmut: "The International Peace Office 1892 to 1950". Stuttgart 1990 ISBN 3-925344-78-0

Web links

Commons : Élie Ducommun  - collection of images, videos and audio files