Simms: U.S. is called key to Pan-Europe plan (3-24-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (March 24, 1943)

Simms: U.S. is called key to Pan-Europe plan

By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor

Washington –
In the light of Prime Minister Churchill’s advocacy of groupings or confederations of states to strengthen their post-war roles, the Pan-European Conference, which opens tomorrow in New York, assumes considerable importance.

Participating will be some of Europe’s most distinguished statesmen and diplomats – including Paul van Zeeland, former Premier of Belgium; Milan Hodža, former Premier of Czechoslovakia; former Foreign Ministers of Italy, Spain, Norway and Finland; representatives of Britain, Denmark, Romania, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria and Greece.

The conference’s principal organizer is Count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, formerly of Vienna, now of New York University. Thomas Mann, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and William C. Bullitt, former Ambassador to Russia and France, will also take part.

Thus, for the next three days, beginning tomorrow, some of the Old World’s best brains will get to work on just the sort of thing the British Prime Minister apparently had in mind. They will discuss the feasibility of a post-war federation or, as a maximum, a United States of Europe.

Such a union was the great dream of the late Aristide Briand, a several-times Premier of France. Linking that great man of peace with the present is Count Kalergi, one of his early associates in the movement. But what is less well known is the fact that Winston Churchill has long favored a United States of Europe, although he believes that Britain’s ties with the British Commonwealth of Nations would completely bar her from active membership.

Like Mr. Churchill, Count Kalergi may not think it essential to have either Britain or Russia in the proposed federation. He does believe, however, that it must have their staunch support. In fact, he says it must also have the support of the United States.

The attitude of the United States is not in doubt. Like Britain, this country would welcome any voluntary federation which would lessen the danger of conflict in Europe. Russia’s attitude, however, is much more doubtful.

Just before the war, Finland and Sweden were discussing closer ties between the Scandinavian countries. Moscow very quickly let it be known that it did not relish the idea. Since the war, President Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakia and President Władysław Sikorski of Poland have discussed an Eastern European federation. This, too, was hastily abandoned after Moscow dropped a hint to Mr. Beneš.

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