News and Research on Europe highlighting Robert Schuman's political, economic, philosophical contribution from the independent Schuman Project Directed by David H Price.
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Robert Schuman

                   And German Reunification


In 1989 leaders of the European Community were shocked and worried about what they considered the dangerous consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall. German unity was inevitable.

Some tried to block it. Others warned of a German Reich. Germany had been at the origin of three wars in a century: the Franco-Prussian war and two World Wars.

In the twenty years since the Berlin Wall fell, have politicians learned anything about the European Community? The Community was actually designed as the guarantee that Germany would not be able to go to war against its neighbours EVER again. That is what the founding fathers said.

Robert Schuman and others gave the highest profile speeches about it fifty years ago. Why were these speeches not republished by the European institutions? Why were they not republished by the French, German and other Governments? Were the institutions asleep?

Let's look at the speeches given by Robert Schuman in 1948 and 1949 to the United Nations General Assembly.

On 28 September 1948 -- three short years after the massive destruction and hate of World War 2, Schuman told the UN General Assembly that the unification of Germany was inevitable and he, as Foreign Minister of France, was going to make sure that the unification of Europe was also inevitable because this was the guarantee that all could live in peace:

A renewed Germany will have to insert itself inside the democracy of Europe. The dismemberment of this old continent, so often and cruelly torn by war, is a relic of times past. ... Now, however, our times are those of large economic units and great political alliances. Europe must unite to survive. France intends to work on this energetically with all its heart and soul. A European public opinion is already being created. Already concrete efforts are taking shape that are marking the first steps on a new road..

'We are, of course, only at the start of what is a great work. … Let us hope, God willing, that those who are presently hesitating will not take too long to be convinced about it. An economic union implies political cooperation. The ideas of a federation and a confederation are being discussed. We are happy to see such concepts being taken up, and studied in numerous international meetings in which personalities most representative of European public opinion are participating. Now is the time for such ideas to be analysed and supported by the governments themselves. In agreement with the Belgian Government, the French Government has proposed to follow up suggestions to call a representative assembly of European public opinion with a view to prepare a project for organising Europe. This assembly will have to weigh all the difficulties and propose reasonable solutions which take into account of the need of a wise and progressive development’

The next year on 23 September, after he had laid the foundations of the Council of Europe, an institution that would guarantee Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for all Europeans, Schuman reported to the UN General Assembly on progress in Germany and Europe:

The first President of the new Federal Republic has just been elected and the first Chancellor designated. The destiny of Germany is again conferred on the Germans themselves. Facts will show if they are in a position to face up to their responsibilities that are restored to them and to prepare their future in an orderly manner and in freedom. The rhythm of developments that follow will depend on the results of this experiment. Our hope is that Germany will commit itself on a road that will allow it to find again its place in the community of free nations, commencing with that European Community of which the Council of Europe is a herald.

Europe's peace would be based on a supranational democratic European Community, not a classical federation or a confederation. This was the year before the Schuman Declaration. This speech besides clarifying how Schuman was to guarantee a permanent European peace, also exposes the mistake or vain boast in Jean Monnet's Memoires that Monnet invented the term, European Community, on 21 June 1950. Schuman used it in many major speeches before Monnet ever uttered it.

Thus the European Community was the key that would ensure lasting peace, not only for Germany but for her neighbours. Schuman gave speeches in Germany about the reunification of Germany. He gave them in German so there would be no misunderstanding.

But let us quote another witness, Robert Buron, who records in a diary what Schuman said to him on 10 July 1953. Schuman described the options: Germany might make a secret deal with the Soviet Union or it could develop a real democracy inside a democratic European Community. Only the latter would safeguard the peace.

'Sooner or later, wished for or not, the reunification of Germany will happen. It may be in a climate of détente between East and West that would help the development. It may occur in a rapprochement of Germany alone with the Soviet Union, after elections favourable to socialists for example. The balance of the world will then be thrown into question.'

Schuman told him that the existence of the European Community had already caused the Soviets to stop and think about a less aggressive policy than world revolution. In Schuman's opinion, he recorded, 'the pursuit of a European policy is one of the causes for the decision of the new Russian rulers to move towards détente.'

Schuman was no longer in office as minister and Europe required a well informed governmental spokesman to speak out about the European Community. He would give 'a frank explanation between French and Russians about the policy of European integration.' Gaullists, nationalists and the large Communist party made this as difficult as possible. Today we need not only someone to speak to the Russians but to our own European citizens about the real meaning for them of a supranational, democratic Community.

Schuman said: 'If I believe profoundly in détente and in peace, I believe equally deeply that the strategy that we have traced is only realisable in practice if Western Germany remains solidly anchored to our European construction.

'It is necessary to progress at the same time with European integration, the improvement of East West relations and German unification. Everything lies in the art of progressing simultaneously.

Schuman and others foretold that the Soviet Union would collapse before the end of the century. But none of today's politicians were listening either.

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