Schuman biography: chronology
Born Jean Baptist Nicholas Robert Schuman in Luxembourg in 29
June 1886, son of Jean-Pierre Schuman (born a Frenchman who became German
after 1871 with inclusion of Alsace-Lorraine into Bismarck's Germany) and
Eugenie Duren, a Luxembourger.
Education in Luxembourg city and Metz, garrison city of German Lorraine
Languages: Luxembourgish (a language common to a large border region beyond the Grand Duchy, in France, Germany and Belgium), French, German, Latin, Greek (classical and NT), English.
1900 Death of his father, 'one of most likable personalities of Luxembourg
city, loved by all who knew him' when Schuman was 14 years
1904-8 University: courses at Bonn, Munich, Berlin and Strasbourg, in law, history, economics, politics, theology, statistics, classics, degree in law, diploma in philosophy.
1908 Exempted from military service on health grounds
1909 Pilgrimage to Rome for beatification of Joan of Arc
Feb 1910 Doctor in civil law at Strasbourg with highest distinction: Dr. jur. with summa cum laude
Practical law exams. Member of Metz Bar until his death in 1963.
1911 Death of mother in horse carriage accident.
1912 Opens barrister's chambers in Metz
October, Joint leader of German delegation to International Christian Peace through Law Congress at Leuven, Belgium.
1913 Paschal Retreat at Maria Laach with Heinrich Platz, Catholic pacifist, and Heinrich Bruening, later German chancellor.
1914 Outbreak of WW1. Called up but sent to non-combatant battalion. He never wore a German uniform.
1915-18 Civil administrator of sequestered property.
1919 Elected at 33 as one of youngest Deputies to French Assembly. Served until 1962 as Deputy for Thionville, France's great steel town.
The Versailles Treaty, he said was 'only a negative peace about which the Alsace and Lorraine deputies were not even consulted.'
1919 Alsace-Lorraine Parliamentary Committee 1919-40, secretary, then vice-president and president. Committee on civil and criminal law 1919-29 and 1939-40.
1920 Advisory committee for Alsace-Lorraine at Strasbourg.
1919-24 Major contribution to drafting and parliamentary passage of 'Lex Schuman', a law code conciliating earlier French and prewar German legislation for Alsace-Lorraine with the rest of France -- called the greatest act of legal unification attempted till then and, moreover, accomplished with the approval of the populations concerned. This provided respect for local traditions and unity with metropolitan France. The key legal philosophy is the same as he applied in founding the European Union.
1922 Visited London as expert in Alsace-Lorraine legislation.
Investigated and patiently uncovered postwar corruption in Lorraine steel industries
1919-39 Contributions to scholarly legal publications
1925 Supported Briand's policy and Locarno Pact. 'We refused Germany everything when we could have given them something and gave them everything when we should have refused. I would like to do something else.' -- Schuman as post WW2 Foreign Minister.
Member of Parliamentary Finance Committee, 1929-39, Secretary 1932-6. Already in 1930s considered one of top experts in national and international finance. Helped to provide loan to sustain Austria against nazism.
1930 Budapest for millennial celebrations of St Stephen
1932 Supported disarmament with guarantees.
July. Attended congress in Cologne where Adenauer was Lord Mayor but 'I did not meet the administrator of that great city.'
1933 Secret visit to Yugoslavia, talked to King and all ethnic communities. On return to Paris sent an urgent warning to French Foreign Minister Barthou about the danger to King Alexander in Marseilles. Warning ignored, both were assassinated! Wrote about aggravation of ethnic disputes and the need to create community policies to unite Yugoslavia plus lack of press freedom in France.
1936 Re-elected deputy for Thionville; General-councillor for Catenom, canton that included Schuman family home of Evrange.
1938 In party delegation to see Prime Minister Daladier about peace in Europe. Voted in favour of Munich accords in order to save peace in Europe.
1939 October Poitiers, joined refugee Lorrainers. In this 'phoney war' period before German invasion, Schuman told young teachers to prepare the young people for brotherhood with neighbouring nations after the war was over! The fratricidal wars that had plagued Europe for centuries and decimated its populations must be ended for ever.
1940 On 22 May named Junior Minister (Under Secretary of State) attached to the Deputy Prime Minister in government of Paul Reynaud who appreciates Schuman's advice on Germany. De Gaulle offered the post of a Junior Minister for War. Schuman contacts German Resistance figures.
16 June Renamed in same office by Petain government without his approval, resigned without taking office.
End of August, returned to occupied Lorraine on a mission of investigation.
Organized resistance to Nazi take-over of Lorraine.(Alsace-Lorraine was incorporated into Nazi Reich).
14 September. Protestation at Nazi action in Lorraine. First French Deputy arrested by Nazis. Incarcerated in solitary confinement in Metz prison. Interrogated by Gestapo.
1941 13 April Saved from SS and probable death. Held as personal political prisoner by Nazi Gauleiter Buerckel in Neustadt (Rhineland Palatinate).
1941-2 Collected intelligence information secretly from German sources. His conclusion after his statistical analysis: German defeat is certain. Nazi power then attaining its greatest expansion and appears to others as invincible: its armies attack Leningrad and Moscow. Analyzed top secret Nazi economic report . Told visiting friends about need for postwar European structure.
1942 1 August escaped to Free French zone. In a series of large public meetings, he made his Victory Declaration revealing the certainty of coming Nazi defeat. Schuman is one of first politicians to expose both to the public and the authorities the facts of the Nazi extermination of Jews. Germans then invaded the French 'free zone'.
1942-4 Chose to stay and work underground in occupied France. Three years of clandestinity with 100,000 Reichmark reward on his head. Spoke to Resistance friends (much to their consternation) on need for postwar reconciliation with Germany. De Gaulle sent invitation for him to come to London. Schuman preferred to stay with compatriots in Nazi-occupied France. Twelve different addresses in France. Prepared work for solid supranational European institutions, healthier democracy as Europe is liberated.
1944 September returned to Metz.
1945 As member of departmental liberation committee, he urged moderation. Unable to return as deputy because of so-called illegibility due to 'participation' in Petain's government. After political delays, suspension declared invalid.
1945 21 October re-elected to Constituent Assembly. President of Financial Committee of Assembly.
1946 June re-elected in Second Constituent Assembly, became Finance Minister. In fragile coalition governments that include Communists, Schuman succeeded in balancing the hugely overspent budget, tackling gross corruption and providing basis for healthy, unprecedented growth of Fourth Republic.
Welcomed Winston Churchill to Metz where Churchill gave his first post-war 'European' speech encouraging French to 'unify in an effort whose final goal is Europe. .. By this effort you will save Europe and in saving her you will save France'.
1947 January came second in vote for speaker of Assembly, after Vincent Auriol.
22 November became Prime Minister of a Christian Democrat-Radical-Socialist coalition. His government included France's first woman minister and leading French politicians including seven past or future prime ministers, two presidents. His democratic 'third force' government under fierce attack by extreme left and right to destroy IV Republic.
1948 February Communist coup de Prague in Czechoslovakia heralded Communists seizure of power in Soviet-occupied European states. Cominform-inspired synchronized strikes across western Europe. Schuman stabilized France's gravest political situation, when Communist-led insurrectional strikes, bloodshed and sabotage led the US government to fear that France too would be lost. Parliament was in tumult, the French economy under savage attack.. Schuman declared: 'Everything must be dominated by the concern to save the Republic because this concern covers all the others. Save the Republic means defending freedom, all our freedoms.' Schuman brought stability by moderation and a firm, open, honest approach. Schuman government marks radical change in French policy: preparation for revolutionary supranational organisation of Europe.
1948 3 April Signature of Marshall Plan. Organization, later OECD, set up in Paris.
10 June Berlin blockade
July. Final act of first Schuman Government is to propose new organization of western Europe. Became Foreign Minister. (Remained Foreign Minister in successive governments of Marie, Schuman, Queuille, Bidault, Pleven, Queuille, Pleven, Faure, Pinay until 1953)
Launched governmental Europe initiative leading to the creation of the Council of Europe. Despite fundamental opposition Schuman brought negotiations to successful conclusion. 23 August letter to P-H Spaak about calling an international conference to prepare a European Assembly followed by their meeting in Paris early September.
Meeting with Konrad Adenauer near Coblence.
30/1 August to 11 September: Short-lived, second Schuman government with Schuman also Foreign Minister. His coalition government contained many leading politicians and future leaders and included a black Afro-French minister. Reinforces Council of Europe initiative with first meetings foreseen in 1949. Certain powers of decisions will 'involve states abandonning the relevant areas of sovereignty.' This will allow the creation of a 'nucleus for a federative organisation of Europe to which countries could freely give their adhesion.' Schuman government is followed by that of Henri Queuille.
October. Discussions with US Secretary of State George Marshall on western defence.
Franco-British agreement on Paris as head quarters for European defence.
1949 4 April signature of North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, NATO. Schuman was co-author of the Treaty, especially Article 5 defining the principles of Community defence later introduced into the European Defence Community.
5 May. Statute signature for Council of Europe: It laid, said Schuman 'the foundations for spiritual and political cooperation from which the European spirit will be born and the principle of a vast and long-lasting supranational union that has neither the objective nor the consequence of weakening our connection to the nation.'
'It started a work without precedent in the history of Europe,' Schuman wrote. Condition of membership: rule of law and respect for human rights. European ministers approved preparation of a Convention.
1949 16 May. Major speech in Strasbourg on European unity and reconcilation:
‘We are attempting a great experiment, the fulfillment of the same dream
.. of ten centuries: an organisation putting an end to war and guaranteeing
eternal peace.’ ‘The 19th century saw, with the
rise of a national spirit, nationalisms asserting themselves. Our century
is the witness of catastrophes that result.. It must now attempt and succeed
in reconciling nations in a supranational association.’ He makes
courageous plea for solving the German problem. ‘There is only one solution:
the European solution.’ He gives it a name: the European
Community. Hence he announces both Europe's new name and the supranational
governance that will mark the world in the 21st century..
July Honorary citizen of Luxembourg
August NATO installed in Paris.
Foundation of German Federal Republic, Adenauer becomes Chancellor. Further meetings of Schuman with Adenauer in Germany just before he became Chancellor and further meetings during Adenauer's secret visit to Paris.
1950 14 January official visit to Bonn as German Federal
capital. Closed meeting Adenauer/Schuman.
April, Schuman speaks to Monnet. Then Schuman's Directeur de Cabinet, Bernard Clappier asks Jean Monnet to write a paper; Paul Reuter, Schuman's legal adviser, writes most of the many drafts. Monnet makes some corrections. For Monnet, who had not followed events at Strasbourg, Reuter was at the origin of the supranational High Authority.
9 May Europe Declaration, a decision of the French Government, proposes a supranational European Community, starting with coal and steel. Spoke to Parliament, ambassadors and at 6 pm Press Conference. The Community, he said, was open to all European countries, including Russia.
10 Departure for London.
11 May opening of London conference with Acheson, Bevin.
14 May Jean Monnet arrived in London
12 June French government nominated J Monnet as delegate with special powers for Schuman Plan
20 June opened Schuman Plan conference in Paris. 'We are very conscious that we are not permitted to fail,' he said. 'Never has such a system as that which we preconize been the object of an experiment before. Never before have states entrusted, nor even envisaged delegating a fraction of their sovereignty to an independent supranational authority.' He also defines the system again as the European Community.
29 June Korean invasion leading to war.
10 August In speech to Council of Europe Assembly, he explained that the new Community would 'thus set up the first example of an independent supranational institution.'
23 October French government adopted plan for a European Defence Community
4 November Signature in Rome of European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms guaranteeing the citizens legal protection against state abuse. Initiated an independent juridical authority higher than the state. For Schuman acceptance of such human rights also furnished the means to define the confines of Europe rather than geographical borders, politics, race or religion. The 'revolutionary innovation' of Supranationality engaged the necessary motor for its unity.
24 November Schuman presented Draft project of European Defence Community to Council of Europe Assembly.
1951 10 January, with Pierre Pflimlin presented 'green
pool' plan for supranational organization of agricultural markets.
18 April Signature of Paris Treaty founding the European Coal and Steel Community and pledge for the re-organizaton of Europe open to all nations, based on supranational principles with its five key democratic institutions..
6 December French national Assembly ratified treaty.
1952 Preparatory conference on 'Green Pool' opens in Paris.
May Assembly of Council of Europe recommended 'Green Pool' proposal. (Projects fails. Instead Europe later adopted a common agricultural policy based on different principles involving complex finances and subsidies.)
Assembly discussed supranational European Political Community.
10 August in Luxembourg as European Coal and Steel Community started functioning, Jean Monnet as President.
1954 30 August. French Assembly fails to ratify Defence Community, already ratified by parliaments of Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy.
1955 Minister of Justice in Edgar Faure government:
President of European Movement 1955-61. Pro-European activities around Europe and elsewhere.
Pilgrimage to Holy Land 'I am sure that even above peace between France and Germany and the peace of Europe, Robert Schuman placed peace in the Holy Land, since the latter commands the former.' W d'Ormesson, diplomat.
1958 Unanimously elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Communities, Strasbourg. Received by acclamation of Parliament uniquely the title 'Father of Europe'.
1959 January. Told colleagues at European Parliament that the collapse of the Communist power system was certain 'before the end of the century.' (The USSR, at height of its power, launched the world's first satellite, Sputnik, in October 1957, opening space age.)
1960 Named Honorary President of the European Parliament.
1962 Retirement from active political life because of sickness
1963 4 October Death at home in Scy Chazelles, near Metz, Lorraine. Adenauer obliged by de Gaulle to retract his already announced presence at the funeral. Protest of six former prime ministers who declined the invitation because of refusal of authorities to invite Jean Monnet.
(c) DHP, Bron Communications 2004/6
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