On 9 May 1948, Winston Churchill, Britain’s war-time Prime Minister, addressed the European rally held in Amsterdam, during which he said:
THIS IS THE EUROPE which we wish to see arise in so great a strength as to be safe from internal disruption or foreign inroads.
We hope to reach again a Europe united but purged of the slavery of ancient, classical times, a Europe in which men will be proud to say:
‘I am a European.’
We hope to see a Europe where men of every country will think as much of being a European as of belonging to their native land, and that without losing any of their love and loyalty of their birthplace.
We hope wherever they go in this wide domain, to which we set no limits in the European Continent, they will truly feel:
‘Here I am at home. I am a citizen of this country too.’
Let us meet together. Let us work together. Let us do our utmost – all that is in us – for the good of all.
How simple it would all be, how crowned with blessings for all of us if that could ever come, especially for the children and young men and women now growing up in this tortured world.
How proud we should all be if we had played any useful part in bringing that great day to come. And here I invoke the interest of the broad, proletarian masses. We see before our eyes scores of millions of humble homes in Europe and in lands outside which have been afflicted by war.
Are they never to have a chance to thrive and flourish? Is the honest, faithful, breadwinner never to be able to reap the fruits of his labour? Can he never bring up his children in health and joy and with the hopes of better days?
Can he never be free from the fear of foreign invasion, the crash of the bomb and the shell, the tramp of the hostile patrol, or what is even worse, the knock upon his door by the political police to take the loved one from the protection of law and justice, when all the time by one spontaneous effort of his will he could wake from all these nightmare horrors and stand forth in his manhood, free in the broad light of day?
But if we are to achieve, this supreme reward we must lay aside every impediment; we must conquer ourselves.
We must rise to a level higher than the grievous injuries we have suffered or the deep hatreds they have caused. Old feuds must die. Territorial ambitions must be set aside.
National rivalries must be confined to the question as to who can render the most distinguished service to the common cause.
Moreover, we must take all necessary steps and particular precautions to make sure that we have the power and the time to carry out this transformation of the western world.
Much of this of course belongs to the responsibilities of the chosen governments responsible in so many countries.
But we have gathered together at The Hague, to proclaim here and to all the world the mission, the aim and the design of a United Europe, whose moral conceptions will win the respect and gratitude of mankind and whose physical strength will be such that none will dare molest her tranquil sway.
• Link to Churchill’s full address in Amsterdam on 9 May 1948
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