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Europe in Crisis

Europe in Crisis: Intellectuals and the European Idea, 1917-1957

Mark Hewitson
Matthew D’Auria
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Europe in Crisis
    Book Description:

    The period between 1917 and 1957, starting with the birth of the USSR and the American intervention in the First World War and ending with the Treaty of Rome, is of the utmost importance for contextualizing and understanding the intellectual origins of the European Community. During this time of 'crisis,' many contemporaries, especially intellectuals, felt they faced a momentous decision which could bring about a radically different future. The understanding of what Europe was and what it should be was questioned in a profound way, forcing Europeans to react. The idea of a specifically European unity finally became, at least for some, a feasible project, not only to avoid another war but to avoid the destruction of the idea of European unity. This volume reassesses the relationship between ideas of Europe and the European project and reconsiders the impact of long and short-term political transformations on assumptions about the continent's scope, nature, role and significance.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-728-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-10)

    Like many others meditating at the time on the tragedies of war and on Europe’s future, Paul Valéry felt at once a tragic sense of uncertainty combined with the hope that Europe could find the strength for its rebirth. Defining and understanding the ‘European soul’ became central in all cultural and intellectual milieux; far from being mere intellectual quarrels, such debates stemmed, on the contrary, from the immediate need to banish the risk of a new war and, more fundamentally, from the urge to avoid the complete destruction of European civilization.¹

    Even though Europe was suffering its greatest crisis, many...


    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 11-14)

      ‘Europe’, claimed Simone de Beauvoir in the memoirs which she published in 1963, was a myth, used by the United States as it sought to restore the power of Germany as a counterweight to that of the USSR.¹ Over the last two decades or so, historians, drawing on works from the 1960s and beyond, have investigated the European myth and the uses to which it has been put, in part to redirect attention from the ‘founding fathers’ of the European Communities to the wider cultural, intellectual, political and diplomatic context in which so-called founders lived and worked.² Despite such studies,...

    • Chapter 1 THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE: The European Question in the 1920s
      (pp. 15-34)
      Mark Hewitson

      The fact that attempts at European ‘integration’ and ‘cooperation’ failed during the interwar era and succeeded in the postwar years has tended to obscure important similarities between the two periods and has led, it could be argued, to an overestimation of the role of movements and ideas in the 1920s and early ’30s, and an under-estimation of the significance of ideas after 1945.¹ The cultural assumptions and political utopianism of the Pan-European and other movements founded in the 1920s, combined with the exacerbation of nationalism and the inadequacy of the states’ system, seemed to have impeded integration, with Aristide Briand’s...

    • Chapter 2 EUROPE AND THE FATE OF THE WORLD: Crisis and Integration in the Late 1940s and 1950s
      (pp. 35-62)
      Mark Hewitson

      The notion of a more or less continuous crisis between 1917 and 1957 militates against the three principal explanations of European integration, all of which posit – or imply – that there was a fundamental shift in the circumstances of policy making around 1945. The first school of thought, associated with the voluminous and detailed work of Walter Lipgens, contends that federalism became much more significant within the various resistance movements of the Second World War and, subsequently, within the emerging European movements of the late 1940s and within newly constituted postwar political elites.¹ Influential proponents of European integration were able, according...

      (pp. 63-82)
      Mark Hewitson

      ‘Europe’ might have been a myth, as Simone de Beauvoir claimed, but most policy makers and intellectuals seem to have believed that it was real and that it was under threat, from the final stages of the First World War and the Russian Revolution onwards.¹ This chapter analyses prominent writers’ and thinkers’ descriptions and evaluations of Europe’s predicament, pointing to important continuities which characterized the entire period between 1917 and 1957. As a result of such assessments, political solutions on a European level appeared both desirable and unobjectionable. There was little agreement amongst intellectuals, however, about the extent and political...


    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 83-88)

      The period between 1917 and 1957, starting with the birth of the USSR and the American intervention in the First World War and ending with the Treaty of Rome, is of the utmost importance for contextualizing and for understanding the intellectual origins of the European Community. The chapters in this section focus on the era from a critical point of view, considering it a time of ‘crisis’; that is, a time when many contemporaries, and especially intellectuals, felt that they were faced with a momentous decision which could not only bring about a radically different future, but which could also...

      (pp. 89-110)
      Anita Prettenthaler-Ziegerhofer

      Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi was doubtlessly one of the most colourful figures of the interwar years who dealt with the idea of the unification of the European states. Back then, he formulated his thoughts on a united Europe, which he adhered to consistently, in accordance with the political situation of the time, up to his death in 1972. Thus, he became a ‘pioneer thinker’ of a united Europe, who never tired of fighting for peace in Europe. Coudenhove’s pan-Europeanism went far beyond the Second World War. Temporarily, he put his Pan-European Movement on hold in order to apply himself to the foundation...

    • Chapter 5 NOBLE CONTINENT? German-Speaking Nobles as Theorists of European Identity in the Interwar Period
      (pp. 111-134)
      Dina Gusejnova

      Speaking in the aftermath of the Second World War at Zurich University, Winston Churchill characterized the preceding decades as a time of ‘frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations’. Europe, this ‘noble continent, comprising on the whole the fairest and the most cultivated regions of the earth, enjoying a temperate and equable climate, is the home of all the great parent races of the western world’. It is to ‘protect’ its heritage for the world, Churchill argued, using the example of the ‘ancient States and Principalities of the Germany of former days’, to which, in his words, ‘western civilization’...

    • Chapter 6 IMPERIUM EUROPAEUM: Rudolf Pannwitz and the German Idea of Europe
      (pp. 135-154)
      Jan Vermeiren

      The writer Rudolf Pannwitz (1881–1969) was once hailed as ‘one of the greatest German thinkers; a poet, a philosopher, a universal genius who has given the world immortal ideas’.¹ An early recipient of the prestigious Schiller Memorial Prize (1957) and thus preceding Max Frisch, Ernst Jünger, and Christa Wolf, he is known today only to a handful of literary academics and historians of philosophy.² This subsequent neglect may be due to the scope and complexity of Pannwitz’s work which spans an impressive amount of (partly unpublished) poems, epics and dramatic pieces, as well as pedagogical treatises and cultural-historical essays:...

    • Chapter 7 NEW MIDDLE AGES OR NEW MODERNITY? Carl Schmitt’s Interwar Perspective on Political Unity in Europe
      (pp. 155-168)
      Ionut Untea

      At a conference in Kiel held two weeks after the Third Reich had annexed what remained of the territory of Czechoslovakia (after the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939) and four months before the beginning of the Second World War, Carl Schmitt proposed a vision of the world order in which the international system of national states would be replaced by a system of political relations between ‘greater spaces’ (Großräume)).¹ Although this was not an attempt by Schmitt to regain the favours of the National Socialist Party which he had lost in 1936, his...

      (pp. 169-182)
      Vittorio Cotesta

      Before discussing the concept of Europe in Franz Rosenzweig’sGlobus.Studien zur weltgeschichtlichen Raumlehreand Carl Schmitt’sDer Nomos der Erde im Völkerrecht des Jus Publicum Europaeum, it might be opportune to explain why we are proposing to compare these two authors. There is no known personal relationship between the two. Rosenzweig died in 1929, already in intellectual decline due to illness; Schmitt, thanks to the publication of hisVerfassunglehrein 1928, acquired a position of great cultural prestige in German philosophical and political circles. Nowhere does Schmitt quote Rosenzweig in his works. Above all, he seems to be unaware...

    • Chapter 9 FROM CENTRE TO PROVINCE: Changing Images of Europe in the Writings of Jerzy Stempowski
      (pp. 183-198)
      Łukasz Mikołajewski

      In this chapter, I shall present and analyse the changing reflections on Europe that can be found in the writings of Jerzy Stempowski, the Polish essayist, literary critic and political exile, who resided in Switzerland after the Second World War. From 1947 until his death in 1969, Stempowski was one of the key contributors toKultura, the influential Polish political and literary periodical published on the outskirts of Paris by a group of Poles opposing the existence of communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Alongside other prominent exiled writers who contributed toKultura, such as Czeslaw Milosz and Witold Gombrowicz, Stempowski...


    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 199-204)

      During the first half of the twentieth century, Europe experienced two world wars, both begun on the Continent, the Great Depression, the Holocaust, and the onset of the Cold War. Despite such catastrophic events, pride in a specifically European civilization remained remarkably resilient, reemerging quickly in representations and personifications of the continent. As Michael Wintle’s investigation of cartoons, paintings, monuments and statues reveals (Chapter 10), ‘Europe’ throughout the period between 1917 and 1957 was normally represented as a self-confident, richly decorated female figure, comparable to incarnations of liberty and justice, or ‘Europa’ in the legend of the ‘Rape of Europa’,...

    • Chapter 10 VISUALIZING EUROPE FROM 1900 TO THE 1950s: Identity on the Move
      (pp. 205-226)
      Michael Wintle

      In studying the history of the idea of Europe, it rapidly becomes apparent that people’s ideas about what Europe should or does consist of have changed over time, and indeed are still changing. It is possible to provide a legal definition of the European Union, or the Council of Europe, or similar formally constituted institutions, but there is no objective or fixed definition of ‘Europe’; rather it differs radically according to the temporal and spatial location of the commentator. Charlemagne’s Europe was very different from Tony Blair’s, F.D. Roosevelt’s or Genghis Khan’s. This chapter is concerned with documenting the changes...

    • Chapter 11 EUROPE AND THE ARTISTIC PATRIMONY OF THE INTERWAR PERIOD: The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation at the League of Nations
      (pp. 227-242)
      Annamaria Ducci

      ‘Standing, now, on an immense sort of terrace of Elsinore that stretches from Basel to Cologne, bordered by the sands of Nieuport, the marshes of the Somme, the limestone of Champagne, the granites of Alsace – our Hamlet of Europe is watching millions of ghosts.’¹ Valéry’s vision is a tragic one, of a desolate and gloomy European land. A pictorial vision, a bird’s eye view, in which the immense geography of the continent seems to totter, becomes unstable, for the stone is juxtaposed with sand, mire, swamp. But the picture also implicitly refers to the works of humanity, to those changes...

      (pp. 243-256)
      Anne-Isabelle Richard

      This was the question that Paul Valéry posed to thirty European intellectuals assembled in Paris in October 1933.² The French Federal Committee for European Cooperation³ had invited them to discuss the future of the European spirit at the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IICI). The timing of this conference was pertinent. The experience of the First World War had led to many works about the decline of European culture in the immediate aftermath of the War.⁴ The early 1930s saw a second wave of this type of work.⁵ By 1933 the Great Depression had been raging for a few years...

      (pp. 257-270)
      Ernest Schonfield

      Heinrich Mann (1871–1950) and his brother Thomas Mann (1875–1955) were the two most prominent German intellectuals of the interwar period. Their collected essays and speeches of the 1920s and early 1930s bear witness to a sustained political commitment in support of Weimar democracy and Franco-German understanding, as ‘unofficial cultural ambassadors of the Republic’.¹ Both writers called for resistance against national socialism, both before Hitler seized power, and afterwards, when they were in exile. This chapter will focus primarily on Heinrich Mann’s ideas about European unity during the years of the Weimar Republic, 1918–33. Throughout the 1920s, Heinrich...

      (pp. 271-284)
      Vittorio Dini

      As a modern and contemporary historian, Lucien Febvre had long planned to write one or more books on the history of Europe. In fact, already in 1925, he added two titles to the plan for the book series edited by Henri Berr:Europe and the European Mind in the Sixteenth Century: Nationalism, Imperialism and Universalism, andEurope and the Universe at the End of the Eighteenth Century. The books were never published; but, at a crucial time, between 1944 and 1945, Febvre delivered a course of twenty-eight lessons at the Collège de France, and the following academic year he offered...


    • [Part IV Introduction]
      (pp. 285-288)

      The forty years between the end of the First World War and the Treaty of Rome encapsulate a particularly gloomy period of European history. Europe before the European Community was a continent characterized overwhelmingly by war, the threat of war, militarism, political extremism, economic chaos and social misery. The interwar and war eras gave rise to dark forebodings of the future. Even the postwar period, which witnessed the replacement of the League of Nations by the United Nations and finally came to terms with nationalism as a threat to peace in Europe, was haunted by the growing nuclear weapons rivalry...

    • Chapter 15 JUNIUS AND THE ‘PRESIDENT PROFESSOR’: Luigi Einaudi’s European Federalism
      (pp. 289-304)
      Matthew D’Auria

      On 5 January 1918, while Woodrow Wilson, Edward Grey and Edward House were talking of peace and the end of all wars, a letter was published in theCorriere della Sera, one of the most respected and widely read Italian newspapers. SignedJunius, the letter was, in the words of the editor-in-chief Luigi Albertini, a ‘cold shower on the idealism of all those who fight so that humanity might see better days’.² The letter predicted that the project of the League of Nations, which President Wilson would officially announce only three days later, would fail miserably since, just as the...

    • Chapter 16 FEDERATE OR PERISH: The Continuity and Persistence of the Federal Idea in Europe, 1917–1957
      (pp. 305-322)
      Michael Burgess

      The two singular events that serve to define and give shape to our images and ideas of Europe in this volume of essays are the end of the First World War and the Treaty of Rome; the latter launched the European Economic Community (EEC) in March 1957 and it came into operation in January 1958. To the extent that the former represented in essence a nineteenth-century European conflagration, its outbreak in many ways signified the birth of the twentieth century in 1914, while in hindsight the emergence in 1958 of the EEC – after another essentially European civil war ended in...

    (pp. 323-332)
    Mark Hewitson

    Cooperation and integration in Europe between 1917 and 1957, contrary to the case put forward recently by Ludger Kühnhardt, took place in the context of a continuous series of internal and external crises, which disrupted the established conventions and procedures of national policy making.¹ Faced with the prospect of economic dislocation and decline, ideological conflict and dictatorship, diplomatic antagonism and industrialized warfare, intellectuals, publicists, politicians, officials and ministers considered European solutions to terrifying new problems, at the same time as conducting domestic experiments (democratization, state intervention, welfare, economic planning and redistributive taxation), reaching bilateral or multilateral agreements (the Locarno Treaty,...

    (pp. 333-336)
    (pp. 337-344)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 345-350)