On Sunday, the 6th of August 1950 - 70 years ago - more than 300 students, professors, politicians and journalists from nine countries came to the border station at St. Germanshof. During the well-planned operation, they tore down the barriers on the German and French sides and declared their support for a common Europe. This historically significant event ultimately laid the groundwork for the later Schengen Agreement. At the same time, the memory of this event is an opportunity to reflect on the ideas of the time in the context of today's challenges and to give an impetus to the future-oriented discourse of the citizens as a whole and of young people in Europe in particular.
Fundamental requirements concerning the clarification of Europe‘s future orientation, the discussion on the closure of previously open internal borders and the acute need for action regarding the preservation of buildings that have shaped Europe‘s history are currently overlapping.
This project is a partial response to these challenges. Not only does it document a little-known but even more interesting part of the history of the European unification process, it is also forward-looking. It forms a unique and authentic platform for the commitment of young people and civil society as a whole to the future development of Europe. Particular attention will be paid to the dialogue between young Europeans. Places, people and events in the cross-border area Wissembourg - St. Germanshof offer a solid and historically founded basis for that. Time witnesses and many active people on the German and French sides are involved with unequalled commitment.
The two initiatives in focus, the student demonstration of the 6th of August 1950 and the initiative for a new European capital called „Bourg Blanc“ on the French-German border (above all in 1952) can only be classified correctly if one makes clear what it means to be a border region - for more than a thousand years. Conflicts, destruction and suffering, changing identities, as well as exchange characterize the country and its inhabitants. These three topics have influenced each other, including the student demonstration and the „Bourg Blanc initiative“. External forces also had an influence, critical voices became loud, but also real enthusiasm. The historical context of the Cold War, the aftermath of the Second World War and the milestones of the European unification process are closely interwoven with this history. Much of the demands of the time were achieved, even surpassed, and other desires remained halfway there.
Today, too, the latest news influence our thinking, our ideas about tomorrow‘s Europe. Will we have the strength and the imagination to free ourselves from them and imagine the Europe of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow?
Dr. Hans-Günther Clev
CEO, ZukunftsRegion Westpfalz e.V.
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The monument consisting of twelve steles (in the style of the twelve stars of the European flag) erected in 2007 on the initiative of Dr. Herbert L. Breiner and his colleagues ("Aktionsgemeinschaft Bobenthal - St. Germanshof e.V.") commemorates the historically significant event of the year 1950, which ultimately laid the groundwork for the later Schengen Agreement. It is located on the field across from the former toll house at St. Germanshof.