In Memoriam: Sir Joseph Rotblat

September 7, 2005


Sir Joseph Rotblat (1908-2005)

Dear Friends:

One of the most engaged and well-respected members of the GSI Board of Advisors, Sir Joseph Rotblat, died on August 31, 2005.

The world has lost one the greatest men of the modern age. May we mourn his passing, committing to honor his memory with our work.

Many date the inception of the modern age with the creation of the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project was designed to deter a potential Nazi bomb. When it became clear that they could not develop such a threat, Dr. Rotblat walked off the Manhattan Project. His courageous actions served as a warning that rationales for the use of these horrific devices could shift, leading to their actual application and the destruction of innocent lives.

Until his passing , he dedicated his intelligence, passion, and resources to a life of service focused on ending the irrationality of pursuing security by risking the very creation itself through the threat to use nuclear weapons. Most recently, he worked to relegate (see his book War No More) the institution of war to be viewed with the same reprehension as slavery – outdated, immoral, and unacceptable.  His advice on the practical steps needed to achieve a nuclear weapons free world were always wisely focused on the political dynamics of the moment, advancing policies such as no first use, lowered reliance on the weapons, deep irreversible and verifiable cuts, and de-alerting – always with the clear goal of abolition.

His advice to us all can be summarized in his Nobel speech Remember Your Humanity . He demonstrated how to do that by the way he lived – with clarity, courage, humility, humor, intelligence, dedication, selfless service, joy, wisdom, love, patience, and inspiration. His honoring of conscience and the sacredness of life by working to abolish nuclear weapons, end war, and recover common sense and human dignity in the affairs of state, will continue to inspire and guide many of us. 

All who walked with him can truly say that we knew a real human being who lived life in an exemplary manner, with a lightness of heart and gentleness of person in contrast to the weightiness of the subjects he addressed. He showed us that to remember our humanity involves being the change we wish to see and that being a person of peace is part of the process of moving the world from the cult of violence to the culture of peace.

May each intention of his heart of gold shine as a thousand suns of blessings of love upon him and all of us who must carry on his work in this world of contrasts and limitations. May the Creator of the mystery of life and death bless Joseph Rotblat with unlimited love and peace. May we honor his memory with strengthened commitment to bring about the kind of world where nuclear weapons and war have no place, a world where people with values such as Dr. Rotblat’s guide public affairs.

God bless Joseph Rotblat and give us courage to accept his guidance.

Very truly yours,

Sen. Roche, Dr. Rotblat, and Patricia McGoey (2002)

Jonathan Granoff
President, Global Security Institute

Senator Douglas Roche, O.C.
Chairman, Middle Powers Initiative



President Mikhail Gorbachev

Joseph Rotblat lived a long life that spanned almost a century, a life of thought and action. He devoted several decades of it to advocating the abolition of nuclear weapons. As a scientist who participated in the initial stages of their development, he was ahead of many in seeing a threat to the very existence of humankind. Therefore he became one of the founders of the Pugwash movement of scientists for peace.

I greatly valued my close rapport and friendship with Joseph Rotblat. Over the past few years, we met many times at the Forum of Nobel Peace Laureates and the World Political Forum. One could not help admiring this man of indomitable energy, moral integrity and high culture. Yet the most important thing about him was that even in very old age his mind remained crystal clear and his convictions firm. In a changed world facing new challenges, he addressed the people, ordinary citizens as well as world leaders, with an urgent appeal to rid the world of nuclear weapons, for in the final analysis this is the only way to a secure existence for future generations.

Expressing my condolences for the passing of this remarkable man, I pay tribute to his long and eventful life, dedicated to serving the people, a life that is truly an inspiring example to all of us.



Dr. David Krieger

Excerpt of Dr. Krieger’s tribute to Sir Joseph Rotblat:

Joseph Rotblat was one of the great men of the 20th century. He was a man of science and peace. Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1908, he was one of those rare individuals who, like Rosa Parks or Nelson Mandela, comes to an intersection with history and courageously forges a new path.

To view entire tribute, please click here.

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