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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Europe's democratic institutions
And Near East History
Brief Chronology of Robert Schuman’s action
–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
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]
Re-elected to Parliament, constitutional committee, finances.
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
April 1947: signature of Marshall
Plan, later OECD set up in Paris.
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]
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’
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]
Schuman’s firm, fair hand stabilized France’s democracy.
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
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.
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.
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.
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]
June: speech at
Thionville on autonomy of Tunisia.
March 1958: Elected
President and unanimously acclaimed ‘Father of Europe’
by European Parliamentary Assembly of three European Communities.
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
US Archives and Auriol,
Vincent : Journal du Septennat, tome 1 pp 586-7, 590-1.
Price, D H : A Community in the Near East.
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
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