Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Adolf Müller, former member of the Austrian Peace Society, founded his own association, the Österreichischer Verband für allgemeine Völkerverständigung “Para Pacem”. It evolved after the war into the Österreichische Völkerbundliga [Austrian League of Nations], which in 1945 became the Österreichische Liga für die Vereinten Nationen [Austrian United Nations Association].
In the decades before the outbreak of the First World War there were close contacts between the Esperanto and peace movements. The overlaps in terms of personalities and content led the historian Bernhard Tuider to speak of “parallel movements”.
Pacifists whose opposition to militarism and war was motivated by religion appeared for the first time in the Habsburg Monarchy during and after the First World War.
The increasing militarisation in Austria-Hungary in the nineteenth century was based on a polar and dichotomous gender structure. As the historian Daniela Lackner points out, “men were systematically stylised as symbols of militarism, violence and war, while women through a differentiation mechanism were clearly on the side of civilian life, peace and peaceability.”
After the outbreak of war most Social Democrats – at least in the first two years of the war – pursued a “truce policy”. Very little was left of their pre-war pacifist commitment; they now supported the war.
The very much smaller Allgemeiner Österreichischer Frauenverein [General Austrian Women’s Association], described by Gisela Urban in 1930 as “radical”, was opposed to the First World War from the outset. Unlike the BÖFV, its members continued their pre-1914 commitment to pacifism.
Before the First World War, Bertha von Suttner was in frequent contact with the Erste Österreichische Bürgerliche Frauenbewegung [First Austrian Bourgeois Women’s Movement].
When the First World War broke out in July 1914, Alfred H. Fried wrote the following lines in the August/September 1914 issue of his pacifist magazine Friedens-Warte: “In the spirit of Clausewitz, we can say that war is the continuation of peace work, but with other means. […]. For decades we have been carrying out dedicated work to achieve this goal, gladly devoting our energies to it. We can say with a clear conscience that we have done our duty. We have not suffered a defeat, as our opponents triumphantly claim.”
The article by Bertha von Suttner appearing in early September 1891 in the Neue Freie Presse entitled “The next peace conference in Rome” marked "the birth of the Austrian Peace Movement".
Bertha von Suttner was born Countess Kinsky von Wchinic und Tettau in Prague on 9 June 1843. Her father, Count Franz Michael Kinsky, field marshal in the Austro-Hungarian army, died at the age of 75 before she was born. As a result, Bertha von Kinsky was brought up by her mother (née Körner). The Kinsky family was one of the most prominent Bohemian aristocratic dynasties, and Bertha von Kinsky thus received the education of a young lady in aristocratic circles. Apart from German, she learnt French, English and Italian. She also received piano lessons and read classical literature.