A staunch feminist peace activist and German sociologist, Eleonore devoted nearly half a century to advancing the mission of WILPF as she tirelessly pursued a future of peace, equity, and justice in the wake of the Second World War. We remain deeply grateful for her extensive contributions to building the movement and connecting local and global activism — a cornerstone of WILPF’s work in the 21st century.
As we celebrate Eleonore’s life and legacy, we’re taking a look back at her remarkable story.
Who was Eleonore Romberg?
Born in Münich on 19 July 1923, Eleonore was one of five siblings in a working-class family. She dreamed of attending university but was denied the opportunity as her mother and stepfather prioritised her brother’s education. In 1940, that same brother was killed while serving in the German Air Force.
While living under the Nazi regime during the Second World War, Eleonore realised the urgent need to take action for peace and freedom and began campaigning for an end to the war, women’s human rights, and social justice. Following the war, she became a vocal critic of the remilitarisation of West Germany — an anti-militarist stance that soon brought her into contact with WILPF Germany in 1956.
An active and dedicated member of WILPF Germany, Eleonore’s involvement quickly led her to become the Section’s President. She took on increasing responsibilities within WILPF’s International Secretariat and was elected as Vice-President in 1971. In 1972, she assumed the role of WILPF’s President, serving two separate terms from 1972-1974 and 1986-1992.
A lifelong devotion to the cause of peace
As Eleonore continued developing her interest and involvement with the feminist peace movement, in the 1960s she decided to pursue the university education that she’d been denied as a young woman.
She studied sociology, philosophy, and psychology, and wrote her master’s thesis on the socio-psychological situation of women at her university. She eventually became a sociology professor at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Münich.
In addition to her work in academia, Eleonore remained focused on building connections between peace activists across borders and promoting local to global activism. She dedicated much of her time to forging links between East and West Germany, and later on worked to connect women peace activists in Latin America to WILPF’s movement. In recognition of her incredible efforts, Eleonore was awarded the Bavarian Peace Prize by the German Peace Society.
Determined to create meaningful change, Eleonore never stopped working for peace. She remained deeply committed to the cause until her death in August 2004 and was posthumously named the Honorary President of WILPF Germany.
Eleonore’s extraordinary commitment to the cause of feminist peace had an indelible impact on WILPF’s mission and the development of our movement into the global force it is today.
We invite you to join us in celebrating her remarkable life and a century of progress — both during and beyond her lifetime — by taking action for peace in her memory, whether big or small. You can also learn more about WILPF’s history and find out how you can get involved to carry forward Eleonore’s legacy.