Bertha von Suttner is widely considered one of the central figures of the worldwide pacifist movement. She had laid the foundation for it with her work “Lay Down Your Arms!” and was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. Nevertheless, knowledge about her and her work, especially during the Georgian years, are hardly known. Yet it was precisely the involuntary exile of Bertha and her husband Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner when they retreated after their elopement that which came as a surprise to their families and was an essential building block for their later civil commitment. Georgia is also today—as it was in the nineteenth century—a geopolitical crisis region with unresolved territorial conflicts. With the war in Ukraine in 2014 and even more so since 24 February 2022, this region has once again experienced an unexpectedly threatening presence in the European public sphere.
IThe focus of the project was therefore the development of a source-based, didactically interactive presentation of the activist’s life stages with an emphasis on the Georgian years. From the very beginning, the project team actively involved secondary schools, one in Austria and one in Georgia. In this way, Suttner’s texts provided the starting point for the students’ discussion and at the same time revealed, through contact with each other, the sometimes very different experiences and ideas of peace and conflict.
The results of the project are presented on this website and should offer the possibility to not only take up these ideas in order to implement them in school lessons, but should also be thought about and developed further. The cross-border international cooperation between schools initiated by Austria therefore aims to contribute to conflict management and conflict transformation efforts through the life story and work of Bertha von Suttner.