Bruno Kreisky

Former Chancellor of Austria
Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights

birthdate: January 22
Vienna, Austria

Bruno Kreisky was the Chancellor of Austria from 1970 to 1983. He was politically active nearly all his life, and during the dictatorship that reigned in Austria in the early 1930s, he was arrested and imprisoned as a political prisoner twice before he fled to Sweden. He returned to Austria in 1946 and served in the Foreign Office until 1951 when he was appointed by the Austrian Federal President as political adviser and Assistant Chief of Staff. He held a number of different positions in the Austrian government over the next 20 years, including Foreign Minister, until he became Chancellor in 1970 -- the first Jewish Chancellor in Austrian history.

Chancellor Kreisky brought about many reforms in his country, including prison reforms, and labor reforms (such as reducing the work week to 40 hours and guaranteeing equality for women) as well as decriminalizing abortion and homosexuality. He also played a leading role in international affairs, promoting North-South dialogue and working with other world leaders to promote peace and development in Third World countries. He hosted early strategic arms talks between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union and tried to mediate between Arabs and Israel. He also tried to advocate for Soviet dissidents and Austria was a transit point for Jews that emigrated from the Soviet Union to Israel. For his 65th birthday in 1976, friends created the Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Outstanding Achievements in the Area of Human Rights. Every two years The Bruno Kreisky Award is given to individuals or organizations for their contribution to the promotion of human rights. The foundation also hosts the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, which brings together international figures to discuss important social issues like peace, human rights and globalization.

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