Originally published 07/30/2013
British-American historian Walter Laqueur experienced the demise of the old Europe and the rise of the new. In a SPIEGEL interview, he shares his gloomy forecast for a European Union gripped by debt crisis. SPIEGEL: Mr. Laqueur, you experienced Europe and the Europeans in the best and the worst of times. Historical hot spots and the stations of your personal biography were closely and sometimes dramatically intertwined. Which conclusions have you reached today, at the advanced age of 92?Laqueur: I became a historian of the postwar era in Europe, but the Europe I knew no longer exists. My book "Out of the Ruins of Europe," published in 1970, ended with an optimistic assessment of the future. Later, in 2008, "The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent" was published. I returned to the subject in my latest book, "After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent." The sequence of titles probably says it all.SPIEGEL: The last two, at any rate, sound as if the demise of the Western world were imminent.
Originally published 07/01/2013
Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union, capping a decade of judicial and economic overhaul to shed the remnants of communism and its wartime past.Tens of thousands celebrated the entry of the second former Yugoslav republic into the EU with fireworks, five-story projections of its history and technology, concerts, dance performances and street parties across Zagreb. European Commission President Jose Barroso and other EU officials gathered at the central square as Croatian and blue-and-yellow EU flags fluttered in the evening breeze above revelers’ heads.The Adriatic country, which emerged as an independent state in 1991 during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia, is looking to EU membership to help solidify peace throughout the Balkan region as tensions still smolder in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Leaders are also counting on EU ties to lure foreign investors to the $63 billion economy and end four years of recession and stagnation....
Originally published 06/26/2013
Giles MacDonogh is the author of several books on European history, including “After the Reich.” He is currently working on “Hitler’s Germany: A Social History of the Third Reich.”It all looked like a pretty good idea in 1951: A world war had come to an end only six years earlier and a cold one followed in its wake. Old enemies were about to become new friends.The first step was barter. Instead of milking the defeated nation’s resources — the ancient way of war — they could be shared: You have coal, we have steel; we’ll swap. This fair trade was at the heart of the Treaty of Paris, the beginning of the European Coal and Steel Community, the seed that became the mighty European Union....It has now been 68 years since the end of World War II, and in Western and Central Europe at least, peace has reigned for the longest period in modern history — trouncing the calm that ran from Waterloo to the Crimean War by nearly two decades.It would be a pity to forget a century of good, hard work or the 60 years we have spent burying our differences and throw it all away at the toss of a coin.
Originally published 06/10/2013
Brendan Simms is a professor of history at Cambridge University and the author, most recently, of “Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy From 1453 to the Present.”CAMBRIDGE, England — THE cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.Some might take that as a compliment; after all, the empire lasted for almost a millennium. But they shouldn’t. If anything, today’s Europe still has to learn the lessons of the empire’s failures.
Originally published 03/28/2013
Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist. His personal website is www.timothygartonash.com'We have made Italy, now we must make Italians" – thus the old saying. Today we have made the euro and the crisis of the euro is unmaking Europeans. People who felt enthusiastically European 10 years ago are reverting to angry national stereotypes.
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