Γράφει ο Ανδρέας Κολαϊτης (Τεχνολόγος Εφαρμογών Τουρισμού)
“Raccontami – Θυμάμαι”
Alcide De Gasperi (1881 – 1954) was an Italian statesman and politician. He’s considered to be one of the founding fathers of the European Union, along with the Frenchman, Robert Schuman *(1) and the German, Konrad Adenauer *(2).
De Gasperi was born in Pieve Tesino, in Trentino, which as a result of the Napoleonic Wars had been part of Austria – Hungary since 1815. After the end of World War I, Trent was transferred to Italy. Since the new 1972 autonomous status, the administrative name of the province is: Autonomous Province of Trento.
His father was an officer in the Austrian Gendarmerie / Police Force. He married Francesca Romani on 1922. They had four daughters. De Gasperi died in Trentino. He is buried in the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, a basilica in Rome.
De Gasperi attended high school in Trent and university in Vienna, studying Philosophy and Literature.
In 1919, De Gasperi -by then a citizen of Italy- was one of the founders, with Don Luigi Sturzo, of the Italian Popular Party, (PPI) *(3), and from 1921, he was a Deputy in the Italian Parliament becoming President of the PPI Parliamentary Group. When the Fascist Party started to gain popularity, De Gasperi initially collaborated, arguing that by doing so the PPI might moderate its policies. However, following the murder of the anti-Fascist politician Giacomo Matteotti in 1924, and election abuses committed by the Fascists, he ceased to collaborate, joining with the leaders of other political parties to oppose Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945). Mussolini, having engineered the 1923 law that gave two thirds of the seats to whichever party achieved a quarter of the popular vote had intimidated enough voters to ensure a Fascist victory in the election of April 1924. The following year, De Gasperi led a delegation to the King, Victor Emanuel III, begging him to take action against Fascist abuses, but the King refused to act. In 1926, De Gasperi and his brother, Augusto, were kidnapped by the Fascists and unofficially tried for treason. On this occasion, he was released, but on March 11, 1927, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Following an appeal, the sentence was reduced to two years. After serving sixteen months, De Gasperi was released on parole, possible after the Roman Catholic Church had intervened on his behalf.
From March 1929, he worked without pay in the Vatican Library, translating several books and writing as a journalist under various pen names. Between 1929 and 1943, he did not take part in politics. He was, however, involved in his own way supporting the Italian resistance movement.
Serving in Italy’s first post-war Cabinet from June 1944, he became Prime Minister on December 10, 1945, and remained in office for eight years. He was provisional Head of State from June 12, 1946, until July 1, when Enrico De Nicola became the first President of Italy. He signed the peace treaty between Italy and the Allies in February 1947, then gave moral leadership to the Italian state as it recovered from the war.
Especially the 1948 general election was greatly influenced by the Cold War that was starting between the United States and the Soviet Union. They are now best known for the covert political warfare waged by the United States Department and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party (Democrazia Cristiana) that defeated the left-wing coalition of the Popular Democratic Front ( Fronte Democratico Popolare per la libertà).
De Gasperi did much to shape the post-war Italian state and is credited with leading efforts at reconstruction. Convinced that close ties between the European states would benefit all economically and help to maintain peace, he oversaw Italy’s entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, (NATO) on 4 April 1949, the European Coal and Steel Community, (ECSC) on 1951 – 1952 and the Council of Europe on 5 May 1949. Italy is a founder member of these three International Organisations.
He was the second President of the ECSC’s Parliamentary Assembly from May 11, 1954, until his death. De Gasperi was guided throughout his life by the social and moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, especially by the encyclical “Rerum Novarum” *(4).
He can be credited with helping to shape post-World War II Europe as well as his homeland. His vision of founding a European army to replace national military forces failed, however but his desire to unite the victors and the vanquished of the war in new, peaceful alliances has been achieved. A passionate advocate of freedom and justice, he stressed Christian values but believed that people of good will of whatever faith could work together. He has been declared a “servant of God” by the Catholic Church, an early stage in the beautification process, an honor afforded few other twentieth century politicians. He wanted to be remembered as a “man of faith” rather than as a “man of power.”
De Gasperi’s *(5) vision for Europe and for the World became the driving force behind his Foreign policy, and his later years as a European Statesmen when, following the collapse of his seventh administration in July 1953, he retired from Italian politics but remained involved in European affairs. He spoke about a “supranational civilization” whose members transcended the particularities of their own nationality to affirm their common humanity and shared values.
Passionate about democracy and an enemy of totalitarianism, he also disliked religious dogmatism. On the one hand he was a staunch Catholic. On the other hand, he believed in collaboration on the basis of humanitarian values and worked with Protestants and Jews towards achieving his goals.
On 11 May 1954 -a few months before he passed away- he addressed the members of the ECCS Common Assembly that: “the Community … represents a new approach to safeguarding agreement on peace and co-operation through joint control of resources” continuing, “we must be guided above all by the overriding realization that it is essential to build a united Europe in order to ensure for ourselves peace, progress and social justice.”-
- Jean – Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (1886 – 1963) …
was a Luxembourg – born French statesman. Schuman was a Christian Democrat (French: Mouvement Républicain Populaire, MRP) and an independent political thinker and activist. Twice Prime Minister of France, a reformist Minister of Finance and a Foreign Minister, he was instrumental in building post-war European and trans-Atlantic institutions and was one of the founders of the European Union, the Council of Europe and NATO.
- Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer (1876 – 1967) …
was a German statesman who served as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from 1949 to 1963. He was co-founder and first leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) (till 1966), a Christian Democratic party that under his leadership became one of the most influential parties in the country. He worked to restore the West German economy from the destruction of World War II to a central position in Europe, presiding over the “German Economic Miracle”.
- The Italian People’s Party (Italian: Partito Popolare Italiano, PPI) …
sometimes called Italian Popular Party, was a Christian-democratic political party in Italy inspired by Catholic social teaching. It was active in the 1920s, but fell apart because it was deeply deep split between the pro-and anti-fascist elements. Its platform called for an elective Senate, proportional representation, corporatism, agrarian reform, women’s suffrage, political decentralization, independence of the Catholic Church, and social legislation.
- Rerum novarum (from its incipit, with the direct translation of the Latin meaning “of the new things”), or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor …
is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII (thirteenth) on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes.
It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labor and capital, as well as government and its citizens. Of primary concern was the need for some amelioration of “the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class.” It supported the rights of labor to form unions, rejected socialism and unrestricted capitalism, while affirming the right to private property.