Under the motto Building Bridges - Overcoming Division, more than 50 members and prominent personalities came together for a peace conference on August 29th, 2021 at the Castle Hall of the Peace Castle Schlaining, near the Austrian-Hungarian border. Schlaining Castle is 750 years old and is known for the peace institute “Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution” (ASPR), which was founded almost 40 years ago on the edge of the iron curtain to develop solutions in a very critical time of the Cold War.
The Castle Hall and the entire palace have been completely renovated in the last two years. The PEACE ROAD peace conference was the first peace event at the castle after a two-year break. In the historic and impressive conference hall of the castle, presentations by well-known personalities were delivered.
Johann Rechberger, Chairman, UPF-Burgenland guided through the event and introduced the speakers. He gave an introduction to the history of the Peace Castle and a summary of the meaning of Peace Road, explaining that the late Dr. Sun Myung Moon, founder of UPF, had presented the vision of an International Peace Highway at a science conference in Seoul on November 10, 1981 to 800 scientists from 100 nations. The Highway will connect Japan and South Korea and will go from there through North Korea and the Asian region. He expanded this proposal in 2005 in New York on the occasion of the founding of UPF, with the suggestion to connect Eurasia and North America through a tunnel under the Bering Strait. In 2012 Rev. Moon’s wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon then launched the Peace Road Initiative to particularly promote these two projects in order to overcome the separation on the Korean peninsula.
Mrs. Gamauf-Eberhardt, Program Director of the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) spoke about the history and tasks of the Peace Institute located in the castle, as well as her personal experiences and tasks and the international significance of the Peace Institute.
Dr. Leo Gabriel, a well-known journalist, professor of political science and peace activist spoke about his experiences at a peace conference with conflicting parties from Syria coming to the Schlaining Castle. He also explicitly praised the interreligious aspect of UPF, stating that peace can only be achieved if people are understood in their hearts and beliefs and their beliefs are also respected and valued.
Mr. Johannes Reiss, Director of the Jewish Museum in Eisenstadt, reported on the tragic development of the Jewish community in Burgenland. 100 years ago, there were more than 8,000 Jews in Burgenland. In some communities the Jewish population was more than 60% of the total population. Today there are only a few Jews left in the whole of Burgenland. The Jewish Museum in Eisenstadt is the only one in Burgenland that has synagogue status. He also explained a lot about the culture and history of Judaism in Burgenland.
Mr. Peter Haider, President of UPF Austria, spoke about the UPF founder’s vision of a Chamber of Religious Leaders in the UN, as well as UPF's international activities. He particularly emphasized the importance of a reunified Korea, a topic which was in the center of many online conferences during the past year.
Dr. Fazel Rahman, chairman of the Afghan cultural association in Austria, spoke about recent developments and the current situation in Afghanistan.
We were happy to welcome the Family Federation President of the city of Györ, Hungary, among the guests. After all, Burgenland had been a part of Hungary before it was allocated to Austria after the First World War, and for many centuries the Castle of Schlaining belonged to the Hungarian aristocratic family of the Batthanys.
Finally I would like to mention that some of the UPF members of Burgenland came by bike to the conference, covering 160 kilometres in two days!
Johann Rechberger, UPF Burgenland, firstname.lastname@example.org