Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel

The expansion of the European Community… I have been moving towards that goal since returning from Buchenwald: the formation of a European federation putting the huge potential of Western societies, reconciled at last in their fertile diversity, at the service of a great planetary ambition. The driving force behind that ambition would no longer be the lust for power, but the thirst for justice, no longer geographical or political hegemony, but respect for the rights of every human being to have a place in a society that is as spiritually  fulfilling as possible.

Pierre Sudreau

I became European in the camps. The same misery shattered boundaries and united men of different nationalities. Friendship and solidarity in the Resistance were worth more than speeches. The presence of German detainees from various backgrounds (Christians, Socialists, Communists), most of whom had been horribly mistreated before the war, prohibited us from equating Nazism with Germany. That’s how we felt…

Borders will always be part of the history of humanity. But the most important thing is for them to be bearable and especially that they not become lethal.

Whatever our nationality, we are Europeans.

Whatever our education, we intuitively know that we have inherited centuries of civilisation.

Whatever our problems in daily life, we have the impression, at least in the Community, of living in a more advanced world: as collective tragedies continue to unfold in the four corners of the globe, we are lucky to live  in a privileged area. Why not save and promote it?

In the night of Nazism, I was among those who dreamed of a Europe free of war. That was a natural, deeply heart-felt reflex in reaction to the frequency of the fratricidal wars between France and Germany: three in 70 years, and the last two European wars also sparked global cataclysms… We have been partly successful: armed conflict in Europe is now considered unthinkable. But we must go much further and build Europe, and then, with her, build the world.