Love and Forgiveness in Governance: Exemplars: Robert Schuman

by Ernest Ogbozor

Robert Schuman was a Prime Minister of France. Along with Konrad Adenauer and Alcide de Gaspiri, he was one of the founders of the European Union, the Council of Europe, and NATO. He played a key role in building the post-war European and trans-Atlantic Institutions.[1] Schuman said at the United Nations in 1949, "Our hope is that Germany will commit itself on a road that will allow it to find again its place in the community of free nations, commencing with that European Community of which the Council of Europe is a herald."[2] He also said that "world peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it."[3]

Robert Schuman made a major contribution after the First World War, by investigating and uncovering post-war corruption in the Lorraine steel industries; he proposed that Franco-German production of coal and steel, as a whole, be placed under a common authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. During the Second World War, he was arrested for his protest against Nazi methods, but was saved from being sent to Dachau.[4] After his transfer as a personal prisoner, he escaped to re-join the French resistance.[5] Schuman spoke about the Franco-German and European reconciliation that would need to take place after the end of the hostilities. Speaking in Strasbourg in 1949, he said that "We are carrying out a great experiment, the fulfillment of the same recurrent dream that for ten centuries has revisited the peoples of Europe: creating between them an organization putting an end to war and guaranteeing an eternal peace."[6]

He further said that "the European spirit signifies being conscious of belonging to a cultural family and to have a willingness to serve that community in the spirit of total mutuality, without any hidden motives of hegemony or the selfish exploitation of others. The 19th century saw feudal ideas being opposed and, with the rise of a national spirit, nationalities asserting themselves. Our century, that has witnessed the catastrophes resulting in the unending clash of nationalities and nationalisms, must attempt and succeed in reconciling nations in a supranational association. This would safeguard the diversities and aspirations of each nation while coordinating them in the same manner, as the regions are coordinated within the unity of the nation."[7]

Robert Schuman was an advocate for European reconciliation and unity, and he contributed significantly to enhancing Franco-German relationships.


[1] "Robert Schuman - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia," accessed August 14, 2013,

[2] "Schuman Project, Robert Schuman and the Origin, Purpose and Future of the Supranational European Community," accessed August 15, 2013,

[3] "EUROPA - The Schuman Declaration – 9 May 1950," accessed August 15, 2013,

[4] "Dachau The 1st Concentration Camp," accessed August 15, 2013,

[5] "Robert Schuman - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia."

[6] "Schuman Project," accessed August 14, 2013,

[7] Ibid.