The Georgian connection: Kvareli exhibition on Bertha Von Suttner, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize
After many educational and entertaining activities, Kvareli Euroclub in Georgia eagerly continues to “walk Ilia’s route” by raising awareness about significant public figures. On 27 January, the Kvareli EuroClub, the Austrian Embassy in Tbilisi, and the Austrian Library opened an exhibition dedicated to Bertha von Suttner, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The exhibition was held at the Ilia Chavchavadze Museum in Kvareli, and marked the anniversary of the museum – 185 years since the birth of national poet Ilia Chavchavadze, and 85 years since the founding of the museum in his hometown.
History has preserved for us the names of many distinguished women, including Bertha. Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914) was an Austrian writer, publicist, public figure, leader of the pacifist movement, women’s rights activist, and the first woman in the world to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. This extraordinary woman also had a Georgian connection: Bertha von Suttner lived in Georgia with her husband for about ten years until 1885, at the invitation of Queen Ekaterine Dadiani of Samegrelo. She was friends with the Dadiani family and even spent nine months living in Samegrelo – one of the most beautiful regions in Georgia. The Suttners were actively involved in Georgia’s public life.
Bertha is the author of numerous books and letters. Her most famous novel Lay down your arms!, which has been translated into many languages, tells about the adverse side of warfare, grief, and suffering that conflicts and disputes have brought to mankind. She also wrote much about the Caucasian lifestyle, her impressions of people, their attitude, appearance, and the stories she encountered during her stay in Georgia. Bertha’s name spread beyond Europe, and despite the subordinate position of women in 19th-century society, she became one of the most remarkable defenders of peace.
It was a great honour to attend the opening of the exhibition together with the Ambassador of Austria to Georgia, Thomas Mühlmann, and members of the Kvareli Municipality Government. The exhibition reflects the work of Bertha von Suttner, important moments of her life, and her remarkable legacy, which drives us to think and act for peace. We were fascinated by Suttner’s work, her way of thinking, and life path. And we will proudly remember that she is related to Georgia and contributed to the development of Georgia’s European path.
The exhibition gave us the opportunity to read Suttner’s work in her native language as well as translated into Georgian, talk to the locals and the Austrian Ambassador, and share our impressions of this outstanding woman. The exhibition is still open to visitors until the end of February; you should not miss the chance to see it.
The exhibition was organised with the support of the Austrian Embassy, the Austrian Library in Tbilisi, and the Kvareli EuroClub. The Kvareli EuroClub was founded by Young European Ambassador Nika Gurini in November 2019, with the support of the EU NEIGHBOURS east regional communication programme. The main mission of the EuroClub is to promote education and development among the general population and young people in particular, to raise civic awareness and to provide access to non-formal education and spread European values.
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