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Christian Democratic Internationalism: The Nouvelles Equipes Internationales and the Geneva Circles between European Unification and Religious Identity, 1947–1954

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 July 2015


PAOLO ACANFORA
Affiliation:
IULM (International University of Language and Media), University of Milan, Via Carlo Bo, 1 Milano, Italy; paolo.acanfora@iulm.it
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Abstract

This article analyses Christian Democratic International organisations after the Second World War, namely the Nouvelles Equipes Internationales (NEI) and the Geneva Circles (secret discussion groups), in order to understand how and to what extent this international network has been important for European Christian Democratic Parties and for the overall process of European unification. The goal is to describe the relationship between the Christian-inspired parties and their efforts to define a common ideological framework and a successful Europeanism capable of competing with other political groups and ideologies, especially communist and nationalist forces. The main sources used are the minutes of meetings of the NEI and the Geneva Circles.


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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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References

1 That is more or less the purpose of the following volumes of essays: Caciagli, Mario et al, Christian Democracy in Europe (Barcelona: ICPS, 1992Google Scholar); Hanley, David, ed., Christian Democracy in Europe. A Comparative Perspective (London: Pinter Publishers, 1994)Google Scholar; Buchanan, Tom and Conway, Martin, eds., Political Catholicism in Europe 1918–1965 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Lamberts, Emiel, ed., Christian Democracy in the European Union, 1945–1995 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1997)Google Scholar; Gehler, Michael, Kaiser, Wolfram and Wohnout, Helmut, eds., Christdemokratie in Europa im 20. Jahrhundert/Christian Democracy in the 20th Century/La Démocratie Chrétienne en Europe au XXe Siècle (Vienna: Bohlau, 2001)Google Scholar; Kselman, Thomas and Buttigieg, Joseph A., eds., European Christian Democracy: Historical Legacies and Comparative Perspectives (Notre-Dame: University of Notre-Dame Press, 2003Google Scholar); Gehler, Michael and Kaiser, Wolfram, eds., Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945, vol. II (London: Routledge, 2004)Google Scholar. Some articles in these collections take a comparative approach and/or offer an analysis of international relations among ‘Christian’ political parties, notably Kaiser, Wolfram, ‘Transnational Christian Democracy: From the Nouvelles Equipes Internationales to the European People's Party’ and Anton Pelinka, ‘European Christian Democracy in Comparison’, in Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945, 221–37 and 193206 respectivelyGoogle Scholar; Gehler, Michael and Kaiser, Wolfram, ‘Toward a “Core Europe” in a Christian Western Bloc. Transnational Cooperation in European Christian Democracy, 1925–1965’, in Kselman, and Buttigieg, , European Christian Democracy, 240–66Google Scholar; and Chenaux, Philippe, ‘Les démocrates-chrétiens au niveau de l'union européenne’, in Lamberts, , ed., Christian Democracy in the European Union, 449–58Google Scholar. There is also one attempt to use political science as a basis for constructing a general theory of Christian Democracy: Kalyvas, Stathis N., The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996).Google Scholar

2 The most important of these, for its thoroughness and penetrating analysis, is indubitably Kaiser, Wolfram, Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

3 On the Nouvelles Equipes see also Chenaux, Philippe, ‘Les Nouvelles Equipes Internationales’, in I movimenti per l'unità europea (Milan: Jaca Books, 1992), 237–52Google Scholar. Although two volumes of essays have appeared recently – Durand, Jean-Dominique, ed., Le Nouvelles Equipes Internationales. Un movimento cristiano per una nuova Europa (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2007)Google Scholar and Delureanu, Stefan, ed., Les Nouvelles Equipes Internationales. Per una rifondazione dell'Europa (1947–1965) (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino, 2006)Google Scholar – neither of them makes a significant contribution to the subject.

4 On the ‘Geneva circles’ see esp. Gehler, Michael, ‘The Geneva Circle of West European Christian Democrats’, in Gehler, and Kaiser, , Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945, 207–20.Google Scholar

5 It is significant that the Geneva circles were an initiative by a German, Jacob Kindt-Kiefer, an associate of the former chancellor Joseph Wirth, together with an advisor to Georges Bidault called Victor Koutzine. The ‘German Question’ was, predictably, one of the main themes of the discussions. For a study of how ‘Christian’ political parties in Europe approached the ‘German Question’, linking it with their wider European strategies, see Di Maio, Tiziana, ‘Fare l'Europa o morire!’ Europa unita e ‘nuova Germania’ nel dibattito dei cristiano-democratici europei (1945–1954) (Rome: Euroma, 2008).Google Scholar

6 On this see Papini, Roberto, The Christian Democrat International (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997).Google Scholar

7 For a collection of documents issuing from NEI conferences, see La Démocratie Chrétienne dans le monde. Résolutions et déclarations des organisations internationales démocrates chrétiennes de 1947 à 1973 (Rome: Union mondiale démocrate chrétienne, 1973), 81–116. There are some important documents illustrating international relationships amongst Christian Democratic personalities and movements in Gehler, Michael and Kaiser, Wolfram, eds., Coopération transnationale des partis démocrates-chrétiens en Europe. Documents, 1945–1965 (Munich: K.G. Saur, 2004)Google Scholar. Over the last few years fresh archives have become accessible, opening up new avenues for research. On this important point see Durand, Jean-Dominique, ed., Christian Democrat Internationalism. Its action in Europe and Worldwide from post World War II until the 1990s (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2013), I, 53115.Google Scholar

8 For a study identifying European Catholic parties, particularly those of France, Italy and Germany, as a lobby for the Catholic Church, see Warner, Carolyn M., Confession of an Interest Group: The Catholic Church and Political Parties in Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In fact the Catholic Church played only a minor role: see Chenaux, Philippe, ‘Le Vatican et l'Europe (1947–1957)’, Storia delle relazioni internazionali, 4, 1 (1988), 4781Google Scholar, and Une Europe Vaticane?: entre le plan Marshall et les traités de Rome (Brussels: Ciaco, 1990).

9 Though there are some useful preliminary remarks in Durand, Jean-Dominique, L'Europe de la Démocratie Chrétienne (Paris: Editions Complexes, 1995), 6690.Google Scholar

10 van Kersbergen, Kees, ‘The Distinctiveness of Christian Democracy’, in Hanley, , ed., Christian Democracy in Europe, 3147.Google Scholar

11 Pombeni, Paolo, ‘The Ideology of Christian Democracy’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 5, 3 (2000), 296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

12 A necessary starting point is Maurice Vaussard's comment on the failure of European Christian Democratic parties to pay sufficient attention to international politics: Vaussard, Maurice, Storia della Democrazia cristiana (Bologna: Capelli, 1959), 254.Google Scholar There are some important considerations on the Christian Democratic approach to European unity in Kaiser, Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union, esp. 191–303. See also Chenaux, Philippe, ‘L'Europe des catholiques: principes et projets’, in Dumoulin, Michel, ed., Plans des temps de guerre pour l'Europe d'après-guerre (1940–1947) (Brussels: Bruylant, 1995), 199213.Google Scholar

13 Here ‘political culture’ is to be understood as in the writings of the historian George Mosse. See Mosse, George L., The Culture of Western Europe: the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century (Boulder: Westview, 1988).Google Scholar

14 Madeley, John, ‘Politics and Religion in Western Europe’, in Moyser, George, ed., Politics and Religion in the Modern World (London: Routledge, 1991), 50.Google Scholar

15 Kühnardt, Ludger, ‘European Integration: Success through Crises’, in Kühnardt, Ludger, ed., Crises in European Integration. Challenge and Response, 1945–2005 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009), 117.Google Scholar

16 Note from the Belgian ambassador to Italy, Joseph van derElst, to the Belgian foreign minister van Zeeland, 30 July 1952, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et du Commerce Extérieur, Archives Diplomatiques, Dossier 12.415, Italie, dossier général 1952, dossier [un-numbered] n. 3067 d'ordre 760.

17 Durand, L'Europe de la Démocratie Chrétienne, 17–8.

18 Mosse, George L., ‘L'opera di Aldo Moro nella crisi della democrazia parlamentare in Occidente’, in Moro, Aldo, L'intelligenza e gli avvenimenti. Testi 1959–1978 (Milan: Garzanti, 1979), xxi.Google Scholar

19 Ibid. xi

Ibid

20 Mosse, The Culture Of Western Europe, 412.

21 Ibid. 406.

Ibid

22 For a detailed examination of communism from the Catholic viewpoint, see Chenaux, Philippe, L'Eglise catholique et le Communisme en Europe (1917–1989). De Lénine à Jean-Paul II (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 2009).Google Scholar

23 For a reconstruction of the events leading to the problematic formation of the NEIs and their first congress in Liège, see esp. Kaiser, Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union, 191–8.

24 ‘Une communication du Louis Joseph Lebret, Directeur d’Economie et Humanisme’ to the NEI congress at Liège, May 1947, Fonds Robert Bichet (FRB), c. 9, Centre Historique des Archives Nationales (CHAN), Archive Privée (AP) 519.

25 Referring to the East–West conflict, Federico Romero says that both socialism and liberal capitalism claimed to be ‘eminently transformative’ ideologies, expressing not ‘cultures of conservation and stability’ but rather ‘philisophies of renewal, sometimes verging on the cathartic’: Romero, Federico, Storia della guerra fredda. L'ultimo conflitto per l'Europa (Turin: Einaudi, 2009), 6.Google Scholar

26 Romero, taking up a definition proposed by Fred Inglis, suggests that one key characteristic of the Cold War was that it was ‘fought not so much on the battlefield as in the sphere of representation, over principles and categories – liberty and liberation, deterrence and credibility, integration and sovereignty – which exist only in the public representation that may be conferred on them at any particular time’, Ibid. 12.

Ibid.

27 ‘Résolution sur les problèmes de la Jeunesse’, NEI, Section Internationale des Jeunes, Congrès de Hofgastein, 10–16 July 1949, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

28 Speech by Luigi Sturzo, ‘Objectifs de la Démocratie chrétienne dans l'Europe actuelle’, given at the NEI congress in Sorrento, 12–14 Apr. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

29 Speech by Ludovico Benvenuti to the NEI congress at Sorrento, 12–14 Apr. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

30 Speech by Fritz Schäffer to the Geneva meeting, 13 Feb. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

31 Speech by Robert Houben to the Geneva meeting, 13 Feb. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

32 For the Italian Christian Democratic Party see Acanfora, Paolo, ‘Myths and the Political Use of Religion in Christian Democratic Culture’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 12, 3 (2007), 307–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

33 Speech by André Colin to the Geneva meeting, 2 Oct. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

34 Speech by Konrad Adenauer to the NEI congress at Bad Ems, 14–16 Sept. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

35 Appeal by the Fifth NEI congress at Bad Ems, 14–16 Sept. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

36 Speech by André Colin to the Geneva meeting, 2 Oct. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

37 Speech by André Colin to the Geneva meeting, 14 Jan. 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

38 Speech by West German minister Adolf Susterhenn to the NEI congress at Bad Ems, 14–16 Sept. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

39 Archivio Istituto Luigi Sturzo (ASILS), Fondo Franco Nobili (FFN), I versamento, sc. 8, fasc. 19, ‘Report on the General Political Situation’ by Franco Nobili to the Seventh Congress of the Union Internationale des Jeunes Démocrates Chrétiens (UIJDC), Bruges, 7–9 Sept. 1954.

40 Closing speech by Franco Nobili to the Seventh UIJDC Congress, Bruges, 7–9 Sept. 1954, ASILS, FFN, I versamento, sc. 8, fasc. 19.

41 Consider, for example, the significant fact that politicians belonging to the French MRP and the Belgian Parti Social Chrétien (PSC) belonged to the NEI in their personal capacity without any formal mandate from their respective parties. The debates over the strengthening of the NEIs and the nature and purpose of the Geneva colloquies is ably reconstructed by Kaiser in Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union, 191–252.

42 Van Kemseke, Peter, Towards an Era of Development. The Globalization of Socialism and Christian Democracy, 1945–1965 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2006), 38.Google Scholar

43 Speech by Maurice Schumann to the Geneva meeting, 21 Nov. 1949, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

44 Speech by Paolo Emilio Taviani to the Geneva meeting, 12 June 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

45 ‘Résolution du Congrès de la Haye sur l'organisation de l'Europe’, NEI, 17–19 Sept. 1948, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

46 See Preda, Daniela, Alcide De Gasperi federalista europeo (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004).Google Scholar

47 Quite a number of authors have taken this line. See, for example, Trinchese, Stefano, L'altro De Gasperi: un italiano nell'impero asburgico, 1881–1918 (Rome: Laterza, 2006)Google Scholar. One work that does justice to the complexity of De Gasperi's development, including the European question, is Pombeni, Paolo, Il primo De Gasperi: la formazione di un leader politico (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007).Google Scholar

48 On De Gasperi's formulation of a comprehensive Christian Democratic political approach to Europe and the West, see esp. Formigoni, Guido, La Democrazia cristiana e l'alleanza occidentale: 1943–1953 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1996)Google Scholar and Acanfora, Paolo, Miti e ideologia nella politica estera DC. Nazione, Europa e comunità atlantica (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2013).Google Scholar

49 Speech by Georges Bidault to the Geneva meeting, 22 Dec. 1948, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

50 Speech by Konrad Adenauer to the Geneva meeting, 22 Dec. 1948, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

51 Speech by Felix Hurdes at the Geneva meeting, 8 Mar. 1949, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

52 Speech by Felix Hurdes at the Geneva meeting, 10 June 1949, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

53 Speech by Robert Houben at the Geneva meeting, 13 Feb. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

54 Speech by Robert Bichet at the Geneva meeting, 26 Feb. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

55 ‘Unir l'Europe pour construire la paix’, NEI document, n.d., CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

56 Final declaration of the UIJDC congress, Tours, 9 Sept. 1953, reported in La Jeune Démocratie Chrétienne, 2–3, Oct.–Nov. 1953, ASILS, FFN, I versamento, b. 8, fac. 19.

57 Ibid. It is worth pointing out that the theme of the UIJDC congress in Villach in Aug. 1952 had been ‘L'Europe, patrie de l'avenir’.

Ibid.

58 ‘Activités des NEI’, NEI document, date uncertain (probably 1953), CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

59 Report by Heinrich von Brentano to the Bad Ems congress, 14–16 Sept. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

60 Report by Ludovico Benvenuti to the NEI congress, Sorrento, 12–14 Apr. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

61 Speech by Henri Teitgen to the Bad Ems congress, 14–16 Sept. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

62 Speech by Henri Teitgen to the Tours congress, 4–6 Sept. 1953, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

63 Speech by West German delegate Herbert Blankenhorn to the Geneva meeting, 13 Feb. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

64 Speech by Bruno Dörpinghaus to the Geneva meeting, 12 June 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

65 Speech by Bruno Dörpinghaus to the Geneva meeting, 26 Feb. 1951, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

66 Speech by Georges Bidault to the Geneva meeting, 8 Mar. 1949, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

67 Speech by André Colin to the Geneva meeting, 3 Nov. 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

68 Speech by Robert Bichet to the Geneva meeting, 3 Nov. 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

69 Speech by Henri Teitgen to the Geneva meeting, 16 June 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

70 Speech by Heinrich von Brentano to the Geneva meeting, 16 June 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

71 Speech by Margretha Klompé to the Geneva meeting, 16 June 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

72 Speech by Heinrich von Brentano to the Geneva meeting, 16 June 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

73 Speech by Heinrich von Brentano to the Geneva meeting, 13 Feb. 1950, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

74 Speech by Konrad Adenauer to the Geneva meeting, 10 June 1949, defining German communism as ‘the most verbally nationalistic’, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

75 Speech by Otto Lenz to the Geneva meeting, 16 June 1952, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 10.

76 We still lack a full analysis of the relationship between Europe's Christian Democratic parties and the nation, or nationalism. For a brief treatment see Pulzer, Peter, ‘Nationalism and Internationalism in European Christian Democracy’, in Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945, 1024.Google Scholar

77 ‘Supranational authority and the notion of sovereignty’, speech by Friedrich von der Heydte to the NEI congress, Tours, 4–6 Sept. 1953, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9.

78 Speech by Pierre Wigny in the Assembly, 8 Jan. 1953, HAEU, EC-fonds, AH-3.

79 Speech by Pierre Wigny at the morning session of the Assembly, 7 Mar. 1953, HAEU, EC-fonds, AH-7.

80 Speech by Georges Bidault at the closing session of the Ad Hoc Assembly, 9 Mar. 1953, HAEU, EC-fonds, AH-8.

81 Speech by Belgian Christian Socialist Paul Herbiet at the Bruges congress, 10–12 Sept. 1954, CHAN, AP 519, FRB, c. 9, affirming that ‘the idea of Europe has suffered a serious defeat, and those who have caused it bear a heavy responsibility’.

82 Lamberts, Emiel, ‘The influence of Christian Democracy on Political Structures in Western Europe’, in Christian Democracy in the European Union (1945–1995), 290–1.Google Scholar

83 Gehler and Kaiser, ‘Toward a Core Europe in a Christian Western Bloc’, 250–1.

84 Van Kemseke, ‘Towards an Era of Development’, 49.

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