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 Near East History

Robert Schuman, I am sure, put peace in the Holy Land in a place above peace between France and Germany and above peace in Europe, since the former governs the latter.”

French Ambassador Wladimir d’Ormesson


Brief Chronology of Robert Schuman’s action

1919 –deputy. He chose the constituency of Thionville, France’s steel city in an area with mixed area of Catholics, Protestants and Jews. Many Alsace-Lorrainers were colonizers in Algeria, and other North African Arab states.

1940 Schuman was first French deputy to be arrested by the Nazis, held in solitary confinement, tortured by Gestapo, threatened with deportation to Dachau death camp. In August 1942, he escaped from Germany with the shocking report detailing how all Jews across Europe, from Ukraine to Alsace-Lorraine, were being systematically massacred by the Nazis. He informed all the authorities he could, including the church, Vichy Government and, risking his life, held massive public meetings, just before Nazis took over the ‘Free Zone’. Spent the rest of war, in France with 100,000 RMark reward on his head. Formulated plans for new constitution for France and Franco-German reconciliation.[i]

1945 Re-elected to Parliament, constitutional committee, finances.

1946 Minister of Finance, stabilized budget, cut inflation. On 14 July, he welcomed WS Churchill to Metz where, standing next to Schuman, Churchill gave his first European speech about Franco-German reconciliation.

3 April 1947: signature of Marshall Plan, later OECD set up in Paris.

Mid 1947, the refugee ship, Exodus 1947, filled with 4,500 Jewish survivors from concentration camps, wishing to immigrate to Israel, was seized in international waters by British destroyers. The passengers were transferred back to Marseilles, France. The Ramadier Government with Schuman at Finance, immediately offered them asylum rather than being transferred to camps in Germany, as British Foreign Minister Bevin required. Refusing the French offer, they were sent to camps near Hamburg.[ii]

22 November 1947 Schuman called to become Prime Minister with France in its worst civil/political crisis, with pre-revolutionary strikes and seizure of Parliament by Communists. De Gaulle declared (several times) he was ready to take power. Communists had already seized power in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslavakia, Hungary; Komintern foment the Soviets’ international revolution.

28 November. PM Inauguration. In a shock move at the United Nations, France, which had already agreed on partition, asked for a one-day adjournment. The alternatives facing the world leaders are to vote: against with Arab States, abstain, for partition with the inevitable consequence that the Arab armies would declare war on unarmed Jews, or thirdly make one more attempt at conciliation. France explored a federal or more particularly a possible Community approach with a Conciliation Commission. The outcome, after further soundings with the Arabs and Jews, was negative. France reaffirmed its vote for partition.[iii]

1948.  Schuman’s firm, fair hand stabilized France’s democracy.

In Palestine, following the call by Arab army leaders to Arabs to avoid being killed in coming massacres of largely unarmed Jews, some 100,000 Arabs left in panic. Schuman’s government took action to avoid a further Jewish extermination. Within weeks of the Partition vote, France’s surplus weaponry was made available to Jewish agents by ship and plane with minimal or no formalities. Schuman’s foreign minister personally authorized the sale of 5 tanks, 150 antitank guns and 300 machine guns, 5000 rifles with ammunition. Because of a strike, French soldiers loaded them on the ship, Altalena, transporting 900 Jewish volunteers.[iv]

22 April 1948 Just before war, Schuman’s government asked for UN trusteeship on holy sites and a special statute for Jerusalem. Arabs refused Partition plans.

14 May Ben Gurion’s administration proclaimed the State of Israel. On 15 May, at end of British Mandate, five foreign armies (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan) plus some Saudis invaded Palestine, controlled Jerusalem, encircled Tel Aviv and occupied Gaza and the West Bank.

5 May 1949: After French-led negotiations, statutes of Council of Europe were signed in London. Schuman said: it laid ‘the foundations for spiritual and political cooperation from which the European spirit will be born and the principles of a vast and long-standing supranational union that has neither the objective nor the consequence of weakening the well-being of the nation.’  The requirement of membership was the rule of law and respect for human rights, which the ministers then defined in a Convention of Human Rights, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950. The aim, according to Schuman’s ministerial colleague, Pierre-Henri Teitgen, was to place Justice above the nations so people could fight against governments abusing powers that could lead to another ‘Buchenwald or Dachau’.[v] This system prepared a framework for Franco-German reconciliation.

9 May 1950: Schuman Declaration of French Government initiating a supranational European Community, key part of edifice for putting an ‘end to war,’ defining reconciliation and the ‘gathering of the European nations’. Practical embodiment of principle: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.[vi]

9 June: speech at Thionville on autonomy of Tunisia.

19 March 1958: Elected President and unanimously acclaimed ‘Father of Europe’ by European Parliamentary Assembly of three European Communities.

April 1958 Minister of Justice: Visit/ pilgrimage to Holy Land.

[i] Price, David H : Schuman’s Warning of the Nazi Destruction of the Jews

[ii] Sachar, Howard M : Israel and Europe, p77

[iii] US Archives and Auriol, Vincent : Journal du Septennat, tome 1 pp 586-7, 590-1. Price, D H : A Community in the Near East.

[iv] Sachar, pp78

[v] CoE Speech 1949, in Teitgen, P-H : Aux Sources de la Cour et de la convention européennes des droits de l’homme, p38.

[vi] Lev 19:18

©  Bron 2 April 2008

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