Petra Kelly

Activist Type

Petra Kelly, born in 1947 in Günzburg, Germany, rose to prominence as a political activist and leader. She moved to the United States in 1959 and became politically active during her time at American University. Kelly played significant roles in organizing campaigns for presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey in 1968. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, she traveled extensively, participating in anti-nuclear protests around the world. In 1980, she co-founded the West German Green party, which aimed to channel grassroots protests into parliamentary action. Kelly became known for her opposition to the Cold War and her advocacy for radical change as a leader of the peace movement. Her transnational approach to politics was instrumental in the Green party’s entry into the Bundestag and the incorporation of environmental concerns into German mainstream politics. Kelly received several notable accolades, including the Right Livelihood Foundation’s Alternative Nobel Prize in 1982 and being named “Woman of the Year” by Women Strike for Peace in 1983. Despite her significant contributions, her life was tragically cut short when she was murdered by her partner in 1992, a case that remains unsolved. She is often referred to as the “Joan of Arc of the nuclear age.

Petra Kelly made a lasting impact on the world peace movement through her tireless advocacy and dedication to transformative change. Her leadership in the peace movement, opposition to the Cold War, and commitment to environmental issues played a vital role in shaping German politics and raising global awareness about the importance of peace and sustainability. Kelly’s transnational approach and ability to bridge grassroots activism with parliamentary action were instrumental in bringing environmental concerns to the forefront of political agendas. Her efforts were recognized with prestigious awards, highlighting the significance of her contributions. Despite the tragic end to her life, Petra Kelly’s legacy lives on as an inspiration to those striving for a more peaceful and sustainable world.

Artwork by
Christopher Schroeder

Petra Kelly was lauded for her interdisciplinary approach to activism. Her portrait is inspired by the many layers of her short, but brilliant life, drawing references from her role as co-founder of Die Grünen, the world’s first Green party, to the connected environmental, disarmament, social justice, and human rights work at the core of her advocacy.


Germany Flag
January 18, 1871
Filter By
Sort By