Saturday, September 11, 2010

Field Trip # 1: the Father of Europe

Michael and I are kind of, sort of, somehow taking a class at GTL entitled "Metz: Gateway to Understanding Europe"; essentially, we sit in on the class, we don't do any of the required work, and we get to go on field trips, many, many field trips for free. This is the first year that GTL is offering this class and they want to make sure it works, they want feedback, reviews, so even though we are not undergraduate students (or a student at all in my case), we get to tag along. We have had one lecture so far (there are only 3 or 4 actual lectures all year) and have gone on one field trip to visit the Robert Schuman house.

Robert Schuman, as you must expect, led a very interesting life. I'll give you a brief overview but if you would like to know more you can click on his name to read the wikipedia entry.

He was born in Luxembourg into very strange origins: his mother was Luxembourgish and his father was French (from Metz) but at the time of his birth, Metz had been occupied by Germany, giving both he and his father German citizenship.

He was educated as a lawyer and spent his life practicing law, then moving into politics where he proved himself to be an "independent political thinker and activist". His political career was spent as a reformist Minister of Finance, a Foreign Minister, and twice, Prime Minister. However, it was during his later days as Foreign Minister that he dreamed up what has now become the European Union.

Our hope is that Germany will commit itself on a road that will allow it to find again its place in the community of free nations, commencing with that European Community of which the Council of Europe is a herald.
Robert Schuman, speaking at the United Nations, 23 September 1949

In 1951, when his dream became reality the original "union" was made up of 6 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and  the Netherlands) and was primarily a trade union called the European Coal and Steel Community. Today the European Union includes 27 countries with 2 more that will most likely soon join the ranks, it's own communal economy, and even currency.

But the really amazing thing about Robert Schuman is that despite the high ranking position, the large salary, and the prestige, he still managed to live an extremely modest lifestyle in a little house in the beautiful hillside town of Scy-Chazelles just outside of Metz for nearly 30 years.

I didn't manage to get my own picture of the outside, this is another from Wikipedia

Most of the tour consisted of me saying "I want that"...what can I say, I have a thing of old stuff and small houses.

the dining room where Schuman hosted any number of foreign dignitaries

the kitchen table

The office where he dreamed up the European Union while playing the piano...Ok, I may have made that combo up

Amongst other things, he was a collector of autographs including Harry Truman's

The Father of Europe slept in a twin bed

Well, until he got old and sick and moved down to a double bed in the room next to the cold cellar; it smelled like apples

A replica of his car

Tomato plants in the food garden made me long for a piece of land back home and lots of help from my dad

Just across the street from the house was this fortified church where he and his housekeeper spent hours daily in worship (not my picture, Wikipedia's)

Inside the tiny church

Lies the Father of Europe's final resting place

To view a more complete photo album, please click here.

And in other news:
We went on another field trip to a Roman Archeological Dig today and visit some castles(?) tomorrow, so stay tuned to more exploration compliments of GTL.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and well done. Thanks...I feel like I was apart of you class!