Here in Austria, Napoleon's occupation is remembered fondly by the many local 'shooting clubs' who dress up in rather comical Napoleonic army dress for local civic occasions; they award themselves a coulourful array of medals and not all of them are Lieutenants. Like the Dutch-Belgians who ran away at Waterloo because they favoured Napoleon (or perhaps more kindly, like the Dutch who ran away at Srebrenica, they were just scared and poorly disciplined) many of Europe's ordinary folk at the start of the 19th century rather enjoyed being part of a resurgent Carolingian Empire. As a 2002 French magazine stated
".. many of the EU's features—federal law, the common market, the dismantling of frontiers, the promotion of the idea of the rights of man—can be traced to the Napoleonic heritage. Why, even the Grand Army brought together 20 nations"they wrote, under the strapline "Napoleon - the real Father of the EU"
But it was the Third Reich, and Ribbentrop in particular, whose vision of Europe was closest to that we have today. In 1943 Ribbentrop planned for a post-war Europe, and the German Foreign Ministry actually drew up a draft European Treaty, the predeccessor to Maastricht. The Benelux countries were not included in the list of members of this Nazi 'confederation' as Germany planned to swallow them whole anyway - as was also the case with Austria. And there was no independent Poland. But the plan included Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Greece, locked together in a mutual voluntary confederation under which;
- The members are sovereign states which guarantee the freedom, national character and political independence of other member states
- The organization of the internal affairs of each member state was to be their respective sovereign decision.
- The member states were to defend the interests of Europe and protect the continent from external enemies.
- European economy was to reorganized in mutual agreement between the member states, with internal custom and other barriers progressively abolished.
- Trans-European rail, autobahn, waterway and airline networks were to be developed according to a common plan.
The Nazi plan was dusted off again and re-presented by John Monnet and Robert Schuman and co. after the war - some plans seem to have been lifted wholesale from the detailed proposals drawn up by the Nazi diplomats - and thus we have the start of the EU.
Donald Tusk is not a historian, nor does he have any real understanding of 20th century European history. He's just a leftie apparatchik desperate to toe the Party line - which is surely responsible for his silly and ignorant pronouncement that "...when I hear the EU being compared to the plans and projects of Adolf Hitler I cannot remain silent. Such absurd arguments should be completely ignored if they had not been formulated by one of the most influential politicians of the ruling party."
Sorry, Donald, but it's a matter of historical record.
|Many Austrians like dressing-up in Napoleonic uniforms|