Editor's note: Veteran newsman Daniel Schorr passed away on Friday. One of his first reporting jobs was for us, as a Monitor correspondent covering the Netherlands. Below is his first dispatch as a Monitor reporter.
United Europe Congress Opens
May 7, 1948
Two years ago a union of European countries seemed just a dream of a few visionaries. Today some 800 delegates are gathering for the first United Europe Congress - and the matter-of-fact forecast is heard that a super-national structure will emerge in the course of 1949.
For some time it is not likely to be the all-embracing union from the British Isles to the Caucasus which has stirred the imagination of pan-Europeans for generations. Russia is busy "welding together an eastern European union of its own. But this very consolidation in east Europe has given the new impetus to the West to sing age-old rivalries and national divergencies.
Almost every major postwar development has had the effect of pushing western European countries towards some form of unity - the deepening shadow of Russia, the pooling of resources under the Marshall Plan and the Brussels "Western Union."
Even a year ago, when the idea of a "United Europe Congress'* was envisaged, the organizers hardly expected that such strides would have been made before the delegates gathered.
I was in The Netherlands last July when the idea of this Congress was broached. Senator Pieter A. Kerstens, head of the organizing committee, hoped it would marshal the hitherto divided forces seeking European unity. It hardly was expected that May, 1948, would find half of Europe already ripe for such unity.
In the words of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who is here representing the European Parliamentary Union: "The tremendous boom of this idea in the past 18 months is due primarily to the policies of four statesmen - Churchill, Marshall, Bevin, and Stalin. Churchill gave Europe a common hope, Marshall a common interest, Bevin a common organization, and Stalin a common danger."
Under a red-white flag bearing a single "E" for Europe, the delegates from seven organizations now are convening in the 13th Century Hall of Knights for a five-day session to establish nongovernmental bodies to further the united Europe movement.
The organizations represented are Winston Churchill's United Europe Committee. Paul van Zee-land's Independent League for European Cooperation, Dr. Hen-drik Brugmans' European Union of Federalists. Edouard Herriot's French Council for the Unity of Europe, the Nouvelles Equipes Internationales, the European Parliamentary Union, and the World Liberal Movement.
The delegates come from Bntain, France, the Low Countries, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Italy, and Portugal. There will also be exiled Spanish representatives, including Salvador de Madariaga and Ortega y Gasset, and individuals from Bulgaria, Hungary. Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Greece, and western Germany.
Significantly absent are the European socialist parties, although many Socialists are attending as delegates of other organizations. A conference of socialists from 14 countries decided in Paris on April 25 to boycott the Hague meeting, but to use their influence for the establishment of a "United States of Europe."
This decision largely was influenced by the British Labor Party, which has no desire to be associated with the Churchill movement and has gone on record as stating that "the idea of European unity can only be saved from corruption by reactionary politicians if the socialists place themselves at the head of the movement for its realization."
Congress officials are sensitive about the "reactionary" tag which the socialists have tried to pin on the meeting. A secretariat spokesman said that "this will be neither a conservative - or Churchill - Congress nor a red federalists' meeting. We have endeavored to include representatives of both the left and right."
One of the tasks of the Congress will be to coordinate the plans of the unofficial movements for European unity with those of the European Parliamentary Union, which to hold a Congress in Interlaken, Switzerland, on Sept. 7 to draft a federal constitution for a "United States of Europe." The Union claims the backing of more than 1.700 members of 13 free parliaments.