Let Europe Arise!

On 19 September 1946, Winston Churchill made a famous speech in the Aula Magna of the University of Zurich, in which he preached Franco-German reconciliation (less than 18 months after the end of the war in Europe), called for the creation of “a kind of United States of Europe”, and ended his remarks with the clarion call “Let Europe Arise”.

On Monday 19 September 2016, the Churchill Archives Centre was proud to partner with the History Faculty and the Europa Institut at the University of Zurich in organising an historical symposium to look at the significance of Churchill’s words at the time of delivery, and their relevance to more recent debates about the challenges facing Europe today. The afternoon event brought together experts Bridget Kendall, Felix Klos, Lord (Charles) Powell, David Reynolds, Andrew Roberts, Laura Sandys, Werner Vogt and Lord (Alan) Watson, and ended with the resonant image of Randolph Churchill speaking from the same podium that his great grandfather had used. The historical discussion was then followed by an evening event organised by the Europa Institut featuring presentations by the Swiss President, Johann Schneider-Ammann, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The discussions ranged from the importance of the speech in relaunching Churchill’s post war career, to its contribution to his Cold War strategy for containing the Soviet Union, to the precise meaning of Churchill’s phrase “the United States of Europe” and the nature of the role he envisaged for Britain (hotly debated by Felix Klos and Andrew Roberts), to the relevance of Churchill’s vision in 2016, the impact of Brexit, and the challenges facing Europe today. While we cannot be certain what Winston Churchill would have said, had he been able to be present, I think we can be fairly sure that he would have appreciated being the catalyst and subject for such a great occasion. Not least because it was both preceded and followed by wonderful Swiss hospitality!”

— Allen Packwood, Director of the Churchill Archives Centre

Related links

Watch the conference online

Watch Jean-Claude Juncker’s speech 

Read more from the University of Zurich

Interview with Randolph Churchill