Who is a Peace Hero?
It is easy to start a war, but always difficult to end it. War causes casualties and damages the life of all creatures on earth. PMV believes that anyone in the past or present who stands up and speaks out for social justice is a peace hero. A Peace Hero breaks the silence and shares her or his knowledge with others for the good of society.PMV looks for four characteristics in a Peace Hero. They should:
- Recognise the interconnectedness of all people;
- Promote justice in the face of discrimination;
- Reject vengeance;
- Foster reconciliation and friendship.
We want to inspire students and the public by showing them the good work that Peace Heroes have done. Our Peace Heroes come from across the globe. They all have worked for peace in their professions, ranging from musicians to activists to politicians.
What is our mission?
Peace Museum Vienna attempts to conduct peace education through the lives of its Peace Heroes. These heroes include historic as well as contemporary figures, who spent their lives either promoting peace through their profession, such as the sociologist Johan Galtung, or practiced nonviolence as their main strategy for a peaceful life, such as Mahatma Gandhi.
The PMV research team nominates Peace Hero candidates to the PMV board for approval. We have established a list of 150 Peace Heroes since June 2014, but we intend to increase the number of peace heroes to 365 by June 2016. We aim to bring peace heroes onto a global stage, with a network of at least 20 cities and over 5000 peace heroes by 2020. Since PMV is based in the city of Vienna, the capital of Austria, Bertha von Suttner is very important to us. She was the inspiration for the Nobel Peace Prize, and became the first woman to win it in 1905. Therefore, she is our first peace hero. Visit berthavonsuttner.com to learn more.
What is our vision?
We plan to extend our peace education efforts to schools in Vienna. We intend to expand our exhibition initiative, Windows for Peace, to a minimum of 20 cities and include 5000 Peace Heroes worldwide by 2020.
Bertha von Suttner
An Austrian, she is the first woman in history to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1905. She was a peace activist who published one of the most impactful writings, “Lay Down your Arms”, warning of the danger of weapons build-up before World War I. Her personal contact with Alfred Nobel was to influence him to include a peace prize in the Nobel prizes to be awarded.
Alfred Hermann Fried
An Austrian, he was a close affiliate of Bertha von Suttner, and winner of Nobel Prize for Peace in 1911. Together with Bertha von Suttner, he founded the “German Peace Society”. Fried was a prominent member of the Esperanto-movement. In 1903 he published the book of the International Language of Esperanto.
This simple peasant from a small village near Salzburg refused to serve in Hitler’s army, preferring to follow his Christian conscience. He was beheaded in Berlin, leaving a wife and three young daughters. He was sentenced to death and executed. In June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic exhortation, and declared Franz Jägerstätter a martyr.
Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi
Arguably the most important scientist in history, Einstein needs no introduction. What is less well-known is his passion for peace. He longed for a world without nationalism that would lead to dispute and war, and he supported anti-war movements in all ways he could. One of his quotes, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”, is an example of his view on war. He chaired the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, with the mission to warn the public of the dangers of the development of nuclear weapons.
Pope Benedict XVI
“Peace concerns the human person as a whole, and it involves complete commitment. It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation”. Pope Benedict militated for peace between different confessions and sought to improve relations with them throughout his Pontificate.
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II wanted to put the church at the heart of a new religious union between Jews, Muslims, and Christians. He was a major opponent of the apartheid in South Africa. He was an active figure towards the culmination of the fall of the Iron Curtain, and he was influential in the toppling of several dictatorships around the world as well. In the Pope’s youth in Poland he saved the lives of many Jewish people by helping them escape from the Nazis. The pope called for peace directly as he was actively outspoken against both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq war.
He was the first Pope to speak out against the mafia in southern Italy, and the first global figure to call the mass murder in Rwanda “genocide, and although previous popes had accepted the practice of the death penalty, pope John Paul II was outspoken against it, saying that: “A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” (From Death Penalty Information Center).
The current leader of the Catholic Church is lauded for his commitment to peace for his commitment to bring together all people with different backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths. He has been outspoken against economic inequality and poverty and has said that extreme poverty and unjust economic systems are violations of human rights. The Pope has been hailed as man of the year by numerous publications such as “Time Magazine” in 2014 for his efforts regarding discourse on recent controversial issues and his efforts for World Peace.
A German philosopher. In is writing, Perpetual Peace, he listed several conditions he thought were necessary to end war and create lasting peace. His ideas were thought to have become the democratic peace theory, and are still referenced by modern philosophers.
Peace is a central concept in Buddhism. Buddhism strives to attain the state of peace in mind, and also in harmonious and peaceful living. The theory of causality in Buddhism teaches the world that whether to have war or peace is our choice as human beings. It encourages people to understand what causes peace, so to know where to direct effort.
Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus Christ is a peace hero goes without explanation. His very ethos is constituted in peace and love of mankind. Jesus emphasizes forgiveness – that one ought to “turn the other cheek”, which is essential to all elements of peace as conflict resolution and avoidance. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they should be called sons of God”.
An American Chemist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize, and was the only person to be awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes. He became a peace activist with the profound changes to his life by the aftermath of World War II. He co-founded the International League of Humanists, and was the president of the scientific advisory board, World Union for Protection of Life.
A Polish-born British physicist, he studied nuclear reactions, and was strongly against the use of it as a devastating weapon. His work was a major contribution to the Partial Test Ban Treaty, aimed to slow the arms race and to stop the excessive release of nuclear fallout into the atmosphere. He won the Albert Einstein Peace Prize in 1992, and the Nobel Peace Prize in conjunction with the Pugwash Conferences in 1995.
A Soviet nuclear physicist, he was against nuclear proliferation, and a major contributor to the Partial Test Ban Treaty. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, and the Nobel committee referred to him as the “spokesman for the conscience of mankind.” The Sakharov Prize, which is awarded annually by the European Parliament to individuals showing courage in defending human rights and freedom of expression, is named after him.
“Suffering anywhere concerns people everywhere. Global solidarity is both necessary and possible. It is necessary because without a measure of solidarity no society can be truly stable, and no one’s prosperity truly secure.” – Kofi Annan Kofi Annan is a peace hero because… of his accomplishment as the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations, working onthe HIV / AIDS pandemic and proposing to create a Global AIDS and health fund, and with the UN jointly winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Kofi also leads the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (an agricultural initiative) and the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva. Kofi Annan was born in Ghana, Africa in 1938. He published the book, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, which is a memoir of his forty years of service at the UN.
Asha Haji Elmi
Aung San Suu Kyi
One of the twentieth century’s iconic political prisoners, Aung San Suu Kyi is the current State Counsellor of Myanmar (Burma), and an internationally recognised diplomat. Her career in Burmese politics has been characterised by her nonviolent struggle for democracy, and her endurance under harsh personal circumstances.Suu Kyi was born in 1945 into a political family. Her father, Aung San, was credited with leading Burma’s army in negotiations with the British. He was assassinated in 1947, the year that Burma gained independence. Suu Kyi’s mother, Khin Kyi, later became the Burmese ambassador to India.