Toolmaker for Peace Work in Germany: Karl-Heinz Bittl

Peace Award 2017: Shortlist Persons

Toolmaker for Peace Work in Germany: Karl-Heinz Bittl
He originally trained as a toolmaker – and, in a figurative sense, Karl-Heinz Bittl still practices this profession today. Courses, books and didactic games are the various tools he has developed for his peace work.

His pupils work throughout the world. Over the years, the social education worker, Karl-Heinz Bittl, has trained more than 200 people in non-violent and civil conflict management. And they are now passing on their knowledge in very different parts of the world; whether this be in Afghanistan, Congo, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Kirgizstan or Kazakhstan, in Turkey or in the Ukraine. 

Bittl has been involved in peace work since his initial training in 1975. On a voluntary basis, he established the FBF (Fränkische Bildungswerk für Friedensarbeit/ Frankish Training Institute for Peace Work) and qualified as a peace worker. During this period, he felt a growing wish to turn his commitment into a profession. In 1986, Bittl became the first full-time peace worker in the Nurnberg area with the help a donation campaign initiated by the FBF.  A team of eight was formed, and he took over the role of pedagogical director.

17 years in peace work as a free-lancer

After a FBF's financial crisis, he decided in 2000 to change his status to free-lance in peace work and conflict management. Now as a free-lancer, he still actively works for the organisation in the areas of international affairs, education and peace pedagogy. For the past 17 years, he has shouldered the risk of his own finances.

Amongst other things, Bittl was responsible for promoting the approach to conflict management known as ATCC. The abbreviation comes from the French and means perceiving and constructively dealing with conflicts. This approach extends Johan Galtung´s model which deals with structural, personal and cultural violence. In cooperation with his French colleague Hervé Ott, Bittl used this approach to develop a systemic model for conflict management. The six levels of conflict are person, rules, structure, rituals, culture and values. If these indicators are carefully considered, then a conflict can be more easily understood and transformed. 

On the basis of the ATCC approach, a peace education project emerged for the kindergarten, primary school and after school centre. Over the past eight years, the FBF has already worked with this concept in more than 200 classes at more than 40 schools.

Playfully developing conflict resolutions

Under Bittl's direction, the ATCC approach provided the base for the peace education game Civil Powker. It was developed as an alternative to the army simulation game "Polis" and emphasises the possibilities for a civil society course of action in dealing with conflicts.

After more than 40 years in peace work, Karl-Heinz Bittl is still committed to his task with a mixture of motivation and creativity. His ideas and concepts reach a large number of people of all different ages and have significantly shaped the concept of peace education in Germany.