Speech Sassoli

Inauguration of the Stefan Zweig Building 12_10_2019

Good morning everyone,
Dear friends,
Dear friends
Dear Iratxe,
Dear Evelyn,
Welcome to Professor Arguti, director of the Stefan Zweig Institute of Salzburg, thank you for accepting the invitation to be here today with us for this beautiful inauguration ceremony,
Welcome back to Jo Weidenholzer who needs no introduction, he is always a pleasure to have you here with us.
It is a great honor for me to be here today with all of you to pay homage to one of the greatest European writers of the twentieth century. Today we rename the Atrium building and name it after Stefan Zweig as small sign of our gratitude towards a man who with his works, his thinking and his philosophy before any other gave birth to European dream influencing generations of thinkers, politicians, artists and European citizens.

Reading his works has always been a source of greatness for me inspiration, because Zweig through his words makes us understand that he is European in the depths of his soul, almost by vocation. But it also tells us that vocation alone is not enough, because the European dream must be nurtured day after day through relationships human beings that go beyond the borders of nation states, through the sharing of culture and knowledge that must be within reach Bound of citizens so that everyone can feel involved and promoters of this wonderful project.

The strength of reason and being together is the only effective tool to defeat the selfishness of nationalisms and the brutalities of war. Unfortunately, however, torn apart by two world wars, turned upside down by Nazism,for Zweig, Europe has defeated reason by letting brutality triumph wild. His best known work, his most celebrated masterpiece is without doubt “The world of yesterday, memories of a European”. This, like his other works, are a testimony, a passage of witness to the readers of the future, to all of us. A warning to ensure that the horrors he experienced never have to repeat themselves,to prevent Europeans from finding themselves without their Europe again. However, I would like to mention a small and very precious volume entitled “Appeal to the Europeans”, less remembered but in my opinion fundamental. You two articles and the texts of some conferences held in Italy in 1932, which reveal to us how the idea and the need to achieve European unity, the United States of Europe. Aware of the fact that European civilization was experiencing its crisis the most terrible, Zweig believed in what he himself calls “the moral detoxification of Europe “. The moral evil from which it is necessary to detoxify was nationalisms which, confronting themselves in a tragic and destructive way, had caused the great war and that by regaining strength they were leading Europe towards the Second World War. Bound It was then necessary to concentrate all energies in the one true project useful to eradicate the selfishness of nationalisms: the real and concrete unification of the continent. European unity, however, had first of all to be achieved through a cultural unification, because the culture transmitted to the people is the most powerful tool to transcend national borders, build bridges and communication tools. “The free market of concepts and feelings – writes Zweig – like the trafficking in products creates a general increase in wealth and well-being general for humanity “. To spread the culture, it is necessary to start from the basics, from the school and from education. If history is transmitted to us only through study of wars and conflicts we can only divide ourselves, if only to this we combine the study of our European civilization we will find that we have many more points in common than differences. And to this end Zweig makes many concrete proposals: you will not believe it but he had even imagined a kind of Erasmus ante litteram insisting on need to intensify exchanges, including through scholarships and students among the universities of the continent. He also had very clear ideas in terms of communication “Through books, conferences and debates – he writes in the article on Unification Europe that closes the collection -, we only touch a part infinitesimal of Europeans, and usually those who are already convinced; in reality our efforts remain in vain if we do not also use new technical means and visuals for the dissemination of ideas “.