Pacifism in Fin-de-Siècle Austria: The Politics and Limits of Peace Activism

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Laqua, Daniel (2014)

The late Habsburg Monarchy produced two of the most renowned peace activists of their day: Bertha von Suttner and Alfred Fried. In comparison to these two Nobel Peace laureates, the main association of Austro-pacifism – the Österreichische Friedensgesellschaft (ÖFG) – is less well known. The article concentrates on this organization, which had been founded in 1891, and it draws attention to the political and intellectual environment in which it operated. The ÖFG originated in the milieu of Austro-German liberalism, but had an ambivalent rapport with liberal politics. The Austro-pacifists' focus on supranational principles and dynastic loyalty sat uneasily with the national dimensions of Cisleithanian politics. The obstacles encountered by the ÖFG illustrate wider aspects of the political culture of fin-de-siècle Austria, ranging from the question of militarism in Austrian society to the challenges created by socialist and nationalist movements. As a whole, the article highlights the inherent limitations of Austro-pacifism, as reflected in its quest for respectability and its acceptance of the social and political order.
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