Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas

Victor Hugo imagined a peaceful ‘United States of Europe’ inspired by humanistic ideals. The dream was shattered by the terrible wars that ravaged the continent during the first half of the 20th century.

However, a new kind of hope emerged from the rubble of World War Two. People who had resisted totalitarianism during the war were determined to put an end to international hatred and rivalry in Europe and create the conditions for lasting peace. Between 1945 and 1950, a handful of courageous statesmen including Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi and Winston Churchill set about persuading their peoples to enter a new era. New structures would be created in western Europe, based on shared interests and founded upon treaties guaranteeing the rule of law and equality between all countries.

Robert Schuman (French foreign minister) took up an idea originally conceived by Jean Monnet and, on 9 May 1950, proposed establishing a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). In countries which had once fought each other, the production of coal and steel would be pooled under a common High Authority. In a practical but also richly symbolic way, the raw materials of war were being turned into instruments of reconciliation and peace.

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