Petra Kelly was perhaps the world's most prominent campaigner on environmental issues, one of the most recognised champions of the Green Party, of opposition to nuclear power, of human rights, of non-violence, and of civil disobedience against the military-industrialist complex.

She was born on the 29th of November 1947, Petra Karin Lehmann, in Günzburg. Kelly was her stepfather's name, an Irish-American. When she was 13 they moved to the USA, she studied at the American University in Washington, and she took part in liberal and radical USA causes: opposition to racial discrimination and the Vietnam War, and the election campaigns of Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. She was named "Most Outstanding Foreign Woman student".

Returning to Europe in 1970, she took part in similar "green" and "multicoloured" movements, culminating in the foundation of the Green Party. She was elected to the European Parliament and then to the Bundestag of West Germany when in 1983 the Greens reached the 5% threshold.

She worked for many international peace and reconcilation movements, including that for justice in Tibet, and for the Basques who had been bombed by the Germans in 1937. She became the world-famous spokesperson for every cause dear to everyone's heart.

A private tragedy informed another of her causes. In February 1971 her ten-year-old sister Grace had died of cancer. Petra Kelly created a foundation to help with childhood cancer.

The greatest tragedy is her death. She had had several lovers, all father figures, including one high up when she had worked as a researcher in Brussels. For some years her partner had been General Gert Bastian, who had originally fought for Nazi Germany, then been a right-winger, then gradually shifted to be a support of the Greens, and of disarmament, and a potent speaker in their cause. He was married, but they were very much in love. She repeatedly said how dependent she was on him. He was twenty-five years her senior and had recently been having severe health problems.

On 1 October 1992 she died, and Gert Bastian died, a single bullet through each of their skulls. They were found a long time after. The forensic evidence suggested he had shot her once, close up, then killed himself, awkwardly. Some people tried to suggest bizarre conspiracies. But the most likely, I suppose, is that he knew he was dying, and he knew she could not live, could not survive, could not function, without him. So he...

See the Petra Kelly archive at

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