Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Green Politics in New Europe: Hope for Change?” Petra Kelly

Tenth Annual Ava Helen Pauling Memorial Lecture for World Peace

October 30, 1991

Speaker Biography

Petra Kelly
Petra Kelly (German Green Party)

“Green Politics in New Europe: Hope for Change?”  Watch Video

A principal founder of the German Green Party and a prominent advocate of nonviolence and women's rights, Petra Kelly (1947-1992) was an important political activist in post-Cold War Europe.

Born in American-occupied Germany in 1947, Kelly moved with her family to the United States in 1959. She received her international relations degree from American University in 1970, returned to Europe the next year, and obtained a master's degree in political science from the University of Amsterdam in 1971.

Kelly worked at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium from 1971-1983, and during that time was actively involved in the German worldwide anti-nuclear, anti-war, and feminist movements. In 1979 she helped to found the German Green Party, which became the first Green Party to gain worldwide prominence. In 1982 Kelly received the Right Livelihood Award "for forging and implementing a new vision uniting ecological concerns with disarmament, social justice, and human rights." From 1983-1990, she represented the Green Party in the German parliament, where she served on committees on disarmament, human rights, neutrality, and foreign policy.

Kelly was murdered in 1992, the year following her lecture at Oregon State University. The controversial circumstances of her death are debated to this day. Local police determined that she was murdered by her partner, Gert Bastian, who then killed himself, though many believe that both were victims of a politically charged double murder.