75 years ago, on 19th September 1946, Winston Churchill gave a speech at the University of Zurich that caused a stir. Advocating for a partnership between France and Germany, and the need for a ‘United States of Europe’, this speech set the scene for the creation of a Council of Europe, an organization that might thwart the threat of future war and ensure the continued freedom of European peoples.
In this document, the prepared speech transcript, we can see additional notes written in Churchill’s own hand. Adding the famous ‘United States of Europe’ quote and writing ‘the first step is to form a Council of Europe’ himself, it is clear how strongly he supported the concept of a united Europe. Less than 18 months after the end of WWII, Churchill urged world leaders to ‘turn our backs on the horrors of the past’ and to look to the future rather than drag hatred and revenge across the years to come. This, he felt, was the only way for ‘hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living.’
With this speech, Churchill was one of the first well-known politicians to call for a united Europe in order to prevent future wars. Nearly two years later, in May 1948, the Hague congress brought together representatives from across Europe to launch an official call for a political, economic and monetary Union of Europe. This was achieved in 1949 with the founding of the Council of Europe, created to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.
: Speech notes for WSC's speech (19 September, University of Zurich [Switzerland]) entitled "The Tragedy of Europe".
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