Hildegard Goss-Mayr was born in 1930 in Vienna. She studied philosophy, philiology, and history in Vienna, as well as in New Haven, Connecticut in the US.
She was the first woman to graduate from the Viennese University „sub auspiciis.“ In 1953 Hildegard Goss-Mayr began her work at the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, or IFOR. In 1958, she married the French peace-activist Jean Goss. Together they contacted people in Eastern Europe during the Cold War on the other side of the „iron curtain.“ During the second Vatican council Goss-Mayr and her husband advocated for disarmament, conscientious objection, and nonviolence. Over the following decade they worked in almost forty countries, promoting peace and justice. In the 1960s and 1970s they founded the non-violence release movement Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ) or Service for Peace and Justice. The head of the organization Adolfo Perez Esquivel went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Eventually the organization widened its scope to include the Near East and Africa. In the early eighties they supported the release movement in the Philippines, and were successful in their non-violent protest against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Since the nineties Goss-Mayr began working in the French-speaking countries in Africa, especially Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Goss-Mayr is an internationally known personality of the peace movement and reconciliation work. She lives a so called „life for non-violence.“ She has received numerous international peace prizes, including the Spanish Peace Prize „Xirinax“ from Pax Christi Spain, the Japanese Niwano Peace Prize, and the US Teacher for Peace Award from Pax Christi America. In 1979 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and went on to be nominated twice more. Along with her husband she won the Prize for their advocacy of pacifism. They were awarded the Bruno Kreisky Prize for initiating East-West dialogues.