One of the signers of Pauling’s anti-Bomb petitions had been Albert Schweitzer, the French-born winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, a physician and theologian
who had devoted his life to serving natives in French Equatorial Africa. After winning
the Prize, Schweitzer had become an international celebrity, a symbol of Christian
service, and a powerful spokesperson for peace. Pauling corresponded with him about
nuclear testing and the need for a test ban, and in the summer of 1959 flew with Ava
Helen to visit Schweitzer in his clinic in Lambaréné. Once there, the Paulings were
struck by the lack of modern conveniences, the huts strung along dirt paths, the pigs
and chickens, monkeys and toucans, and the everpresent jungle. "It is beautiful here,"
wrote Ava Helen in her diary, "and chaotic." They spent a week touring and talking,
eating dinner with Schweitzer and his staff every afternoon, and afterwards listening
to Schweitzer’s French-language lectures on religion. The two men met privately to
talk about nuclear testing and the need to stop the poisons from fallout. Schweitzer
"impressed me very greatly," Pauling said, "and, as I recall, we concurred on everything."