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Who is Dr. Albert Schweitzer?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a man who wore many hats. He was a physician, theologian, organist and humanitarian. Albert Schweitzer is probably best remembered for his hospital work in Africa that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize for 1952.

Albert Schweitzer was born in Alsace on 14 January, 1875 into a religious family that valued education and music. He had organ and piano lessons as a child and performed musically in church at nine years of age. By the time he was a young adult, Albert Schweitzer was known worldwide as a concert organist. He paid for much of his education, including medical school, from the monies he earned playing the organ professionally.

At eighteen, Albert Schweitzer began studying theology at the University of Strasbourg and he earned his doctorate in philosophy at twenty-four. During his eleven years of serving in prestigious administrative posts at the Theological College of St. Thomas at the University of Strasbourg, Albert Schweitzer wrote and published The Quest of the Historical Jesus in 1906. The year before the book was published he started medical school at the University of Strasbourg. By 1913, at age 38, Schweitzer had earned his medical doctor (MD) degree and had founded a hospital in French Equatorial Africa at Lambarene.

Four years after starting the African hospital, Albert Schweitzer and his wife, Helen, were taken and held as prisoners of war for one year at a French internment camp before being released. Albert Schweitzer then wrote books in Europe between 1918 and 1924. The books were about world religions and civilization. He also continued to perform as an organist and to preach in his church. In 1924, he went back to Lambrene and his hospital work.

Albert Schweitzer is said to have been a head-strong workaholic who slept only four hours each night. He won the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his African hospital work and used the money to further aid his humanitarian efforts. Albert Schweitzer died at the age of 90 on 4 September, 1965. He was buried at Lambrene.

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Discussion Comments
By StormyKnight — On Mar 07, 2011

@wesley91: Dr. Schweitzer gave a speech once that many considered racist. Although much of his work was meant to improve conditions in Africa, his speech was taken a little out of context. The quote that many people refer to is"

"There is something that all white men that have lived here must learn and know; that these individuals are a sub-race; they have neither the intellectual, mental or emotional abilities to equate or share in any of the functions of our civilization."

Some people say it was taken out of context, others feel it stands on its own -- guess it's up to the individual to decide.

By wesley91 — On Mar 05, 2011

I have heard before that Albert Schweitzer was called a racist by many people. Where did that come from?

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