1925 – Austen Chamberlain (1863-1937), British politician, minister of foreign affairs, initiator of the Treaty of Locarno, and Charles Gates Dawes (1865-1951), American politician and banker, founder of the Dawes Plan for war reparations from Germany. Both laureates received the prize in 1926.
Chamberlain was the eldest son of the outstanding British statesman, Joseph Chamberlain (the “Empire-builder”). From his early years he was prepared for a career in politics. He studied at Cambridge and at the School of Political Science in Paris. At the beginning of his career he became his father’s secretary.
In 1892 he was elected to the House of Commons as a conservative member and remained a member of parliament for the next 45 years. He quickly progressed up the political career ladder, first becoming Lord Admiral, and later taking up the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the years 1903-1906. He held various posts in four different governments. In 1918 and 1919 he was a member of the government’s War Cabinet.
From 1924 to 1929 he was secretary of state for foreign affairs and contributed to the signing of the Treaty of Locarno in 1925 which guaranteed inviolability of the borders between Germany, France and Belgium. The parties to the Treaty also denounced any mutual aggression. All in all, 8 agreements were signed, including four treaties of arbitration between Germany, France, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia and two guarantee treaties between France and Poland and between France and Czechoslovakia. The Locarno Treaties were the prelude to Germany’s entry into the League of Nations, which took place one year later.
Upon his return to London from Locarno, Chamberlain was received with great praise; the following year he was made Knight of the Garter and received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dawes was born in a family of English Puritans whose ancestors arrived in America in 1628. Throughout his life, he combined a banking career with civil service and felt equally comfortable in both fields.
He was a skilled businessman, and in 1894 he laid the foundations for his fortune by taking the control of the La Crosse gas plant in Wisconsin and a similar plant near Chicago. Together with his brothers, he later controlled 28 gas and power plants in 10 states. In 1902 he established the Central Trust Company of Illinois, often referred to as the “Dawes Bank”.
During World War I he served in general Pershing’s staff where he was in charge of supplies and procurement for American expeditionary forces and then held the same position for the Entente forces. In 1920 he was appointed budget director for the US government.
In 1923, the League of Nations entrusted him with the presidency of the commission for German war reparations. The Dawes Plan was also aimed at stabilizing the currency. Germany adopted the plan in 1924 and made a commitment to pay 1 billion German marks in the same year and 2.5 billion the following year. According to the Plan, Germany was to receive international loans to facilitate the country’s economic development and subsequent payment of war reparations.
Dawes was also vice-president in the years 1925-1929. In 1932, he was appointed head of the government agency which granted loans to banks, railroads and other institutions in order to prevent a total economic breakdown during the Great Depression.
Dawes was a highly disciplined person and had musical talent: he played the flute and the piano, and he even composed a piece often played by the famous violinist, Fritz Kreisler.