To all walkers of today and tomorrow!

To all walkes of today and tomorrow!

In 2119 the Atrium Building in the European Parliament at Strasbourg was renamed in honour of Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), a Jewish-Austrian writer, pacifist and humanistas. This was as modest token of gratitude towards a man who, through his work, his thought and his philosophy, was one of the very first to give expression to the European ideal, influencing generations of thinkers, politicians, artists and ordinary Europeans.

Reading his works has always been a source of great inspiration, because through his words, Stefan Zweig shows that he is a European to the very depths of his soul, but he also tells us:

“A European ideal is nurtured day in and day out by human relationships which exceed national borders, through the sharing of culture and knowledge. He thought (and I also believe) when people from different countries get to know each other’s histories, languages and cultures, mistrust can give way to understanding and Europe can feel like a second home.

His best-known work, his most celebrated masterpiece, is certainly “The World of Yesterday: Memories of a European“. He saw this and his other works as a way of bearing witness of passing the torch to future readers, to all of us. They were to serve as a warning that the horrors he witnessed should never be repeated, that Europeans should never again find themselves in a Europe they did not recognise.

If we are to spread culture and knowledge, we need to go back to basics, take school, education as our starting point. If we learn about history only through the study of wars and conflicts, it can drive us apart; if we combine this with a study of our European civilisation and “walking” abroad, however, we will discover that there are in fact far more things that unite us.

(Text adapted from: Inauguration speech of the Stefan Zweig Building in the European Parliament, Brussels, 12-12-2019)