Churchill’s “United States of Europe” (1946)

In 1946, Churchill gave a notable speech at the University of Zurich, calling for the creation of a ‘United States of Europe’. He encouraged Europeans to leave behind the horrors of the past and focus on the future. Churchill emphasized that Europe must not continue to carry the animosity and desire for vengeance that arose from past conflicts. He stated that establishing a ‘European family’ rooted in justice, mercy, and freedom began with the formation of a sort of United States of Europe.

What is this plight to which Europe has been reduced? Some of the smaller states have indeed made a good recovery, but over wide areas are a vast, quivering mass of tormented, hungry, careworn and bewildered human beings, who wait in the ruins of their cities and homes and scan the dark horizons for the approach of some new form of tyranny or terror. Among the victors there is a Babel of voices, among the vanquished the sullen silence of despair. That is all that Europeans, grouped in so many ancient states and nations, and that is all that the Germanic races have got by tearing each other to pieces and spreading havoc far and wide. Indeed, but for the fact that the great republic across the Atlantic realised that the ruin or enslavement of Europe would involve her own fate as well, and stretched out hands of succour and guidance, the Dark Ages would have returned in all their cruelty and squalor. They may still return.

Yet all the while there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted by the great majority of people in many lands, would as by a miracle transform the whole scene and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and happy as Switzerland is today. What is this sovereign remedy? It is to recreate the European family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, safety and freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living. The process is simple. All that is needed is the resolve of hundreds of millions of men and women to do right instead of wrong and to gain as their reward blessing instead of cursing.

    Therefore I say to you “Let Europe arise!”

    Winston Churchill, Zurich, 9 September 1946

Churchill’s “United States of Europe” (1946) was last modified: April 10th, 2024 by Mihalis Panayiotakis