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Robert Schuman, the man

Schuman began to expound what later became known as the 'Schuman Plan,' so breath-taking a step towards the unification of Western Europe that at first I did not grasp it. As he talked we caught the enthusiasm and the breadth of his thought, the rebirth of Europe which, as an entity, had been in eclipse since the Reformation.
                                                       US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, days before Schuman made his Proposal

One day history will attribute to Robert Schuman a decisive part in a work perhaps the most grandiose of the statesmen of our epoch, that is the practical and concrete realisation of of the grand design of political unity of Europe just a few years after the end of the greatest war that had ever devastated Europe.

Walter Hallstein, president of the Commission of the European Economic Community (1963),
former German Foreign Minister.
He seemed shy, hesitant, his eloquence had nothing seductive in it, he never sought to impose himself, to command, and yet it was when he had charge and power, that France was really at the head of Europe and that the great idea of a supranational Europe really made progress. ...

It is to Robert Schuman that we are the most indebted both for the Council of Europe and the European Coal and Steel Community.
                                                                                                Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Foreign Minister
The hours we spent in personal conversation were the most precious to me. There you could see that this politician is not only a statesman but a man whose power is created out of the wealth and depth of his universal spiritual life -- for here the word 'Europe' is too small. Rooted in his own homeland he is a Lorraine European. But he is much more: a humanitarian, a humanist -- a real human being. (ein Menschenfreund, ein Mitmensch -- ein Mensch).
                                                   Historian Hendrik Brugmans, Rector of the College of Europe, Bruges.
He was more than a great statesman of a neighbouring state and a man of truly European sentiments. He was quite simply a constant visitor and friend of the German people. He was a popular even venerated personality in Germany. That dates back to the historic hour of 9 May 1950 when the French Government on the initiative of Robert Schuman announced to the world that it had decided to try to give a new basis to mutual relations between European countries and that each should renounce a share of its sovereignty to the profit of their common benefit. Thus a new chapter began in the history of Europe.
                                                                           Heinrich von Brentano,  German Foreign Minister.
The destiny of Robert Schuman was exceptional, as was he himself as a person in our political history.
                                                                                           Felix Gaillard,  French Prime Minister.

Robert Schuman {was} one of the great minds who inspired postwar Europe. ... He must have seen with satisfaction that the European Coal and Steel Community, the fruit of his own thoughts, created such success that it incited the member states to draw their economic links together more closely in a Common Market and Euratom.
                                                                                         Joseph Luns, Dutch Foreign Minister
The Schuman Plan opened a new direction when French sovereignty had reached its limits. It was the only way, through union with other European nations, to save that which merited to be saved of our own homeland in the face of super states which dominate the world. In the Schuman Plan it was not the technical dispositions which counted --  these were arguable and perishable; it was this profound conviction. But it was also the method which corresponded so well to the personality of Robert Schuman.
                                                     Prof Paul Reuter, colleague and draftsman of the Schuman Proposal

'We are all instruments -- however imperfect-- of a Providence who uses them to accomplish grand designs which surpass us,' he wrote to me. 'This certainty  obliges us to a great deal of modesty but also confers on us a serenity that our own personal experiences would not justify if we consider them from a purely human point of view.' In this phrase it seems to me one can hear and perceive Mr Schuman  ... in his public life and in his plans that on a more and more elevated plane constituted his action.
                                                    Robert Rochefort, colleague and biographer (quoting Schuman's letter of 1942)

 He pursued a 'grand design', conceived and matured in silence and meditation. ... He saw far and accurately. He had nothing of the dreamer. He ignored neither the inertia nor the weaknesses of human nature. He took his support from the close study of facts. His firmness of character, his tenacity and his rigor did not mean he lacked being astute. He was a realist; he was not an opportunist.
                                                                                                                Jacques Mallet, French deputy

What first struck me about him was how his interior life shone forth; he was, it seemed to me, a dedicated man without personal desires, without ambition, of a total sincerity and intellectual honesty, who only sought to serve where he felt the call to serve. By tradition he was conservative, hostile to innovations, by temperament he was peaceful, shy and hesitant. Often he hedged, delayed his decision, tried to finesse with the call he felt in the depth of his conscience. Then, when there was nothing else to do and he was sure of what his interior voice was demanding of him, he would brusquely take the most courageous initiatives and push them to their logical conclusion, unmoved by critics, attacks or threats.
                                                                                                                Andre Philip,  ministerial colleague

The inventory of public finances he established when he became Minister of Finance in 1946 became for this methodical, economic man, without illusions, the basis for {France's} economic and financial revival.
                                                      Alain Poher, twice interim President of France and Schuman's colleague

Profoundly democratic as Robert Schuman was, he faced up as the head of  government  with a cool head and strength to seditious attacks from all sides that at the time aimed their cross-fire at our republican democracy. This Christian, whose faith was so pure and simple that it could only gain respect, was nothing of sectarian and he extended this 'tolerance' at all opinions different from his own. This led him to defend the legitimacy and necessity of political parties against the demagogy that already exploded with furour. ... Courage, calmness and tenacity didn't fail Robert Schuman any less during the historic moments when a crucial impetus had to be given to Coal and Steel Community, or rather the Grand Design for a united Europe of which it was the first practical manifestation.
                                                                                      Guy Mollet, French prime minister

He ... was a statesman as he possessed in a supreme degree, as one of colleagues wrote, two of the essential qualities which make a statesman: he saw the big picture and he looked far into the distance; he was creator of the future.
                                                                                             Antoine Pinay, French prime minister

He reflected for a long time, but he knew how to act quickly when he found the response to the grave problems that he settled on his conscience. To reconcile France and Germany was his deep preoccupation at that time. The surprise was total when this man who was so reserved proposed what no two nations had ever done before: place in common their vital resources, precisely those which were the source of their conflicts. This revolutionary gesture was accomplished without vain ostentation, with a sincerity that convinced at once all those to whom it was addressed. There was no ulterior motive in the French proposal. It was simple and frank; that is why it carried greater conviction in people's minds and had more consequences on events than the most carefully crafted schemes.
                                                           Jean Monnet, first president of the High Authority of the European Community

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