Introduction: Unexpected topicality of the „United States of Europe“ idea
 The idea of a „United States of Europe“ has, somewhat unexpectedly, gained new honours in the last three or four years, after it seemed to have been forgotten for some time in public speech. Former SPD chairman Martin Schulz spoke of „United States of Europe“ (in the following: USE) at the SPD party conference on 7 December 2017. He referred to the Heidelberg Programme of the SPD of 1925 and suggested that the USE should be realised by 2025. He was able to attract attention, as a graphic created with Google Trends shows [press ‚return‘ twice in the case you get an error information].
 The runaway exactly on 7 December 2017 coincides with the Schulz speech he had given in the morning, but then interest quickly waned. Such jagged curves reveal that there is no permanent basic interest, but that the interest tends to arise and dry up again in response to specific events. Of course, this only refers to Google’s users, but they are so numerous that the result should be representative.
 Schulz could also have referred to Willy Brandt, the trade union movement and more generally to the tradition of the idea of United States of Europe in social democracy.
 In 2019, the NEOS in Austria, which in contrast to the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) can be called liberals, also used this idea or slogan in their EU election campaign. For example, they called for a genuine European citizenship. Google Trends shows the same effect as Schulz: In May 2019 the interest in the topic increased in the short term, which can definitely be brought together with the prominent placement of the topic by the NEOS.
 In the meantime, this idea has become quieter again, but it will certainly pop up again at some point. What is to be linked to the USE in terms of content generally remains vague, but federalist tendencies can be well packaged in it without becoming too concrete in terms of constitutional policy.
Brief history of the idea „United States of Europe“
 For a first approximation of the history of the idea of the USE, it is worthwhile to look at when the expression „United States of Europe“ was used and how intensively. Ngram Viewer“ from Google can be used for this purpose (graphic 1; graphic 2).
 If we first look at the values on the y-axis, we see that in absolute terms the term USE is not really common in any of the six languages. The fact that the values are below 0.1% does not mean much, as only the few very frequent filler words in a language are above this. 0.1% or even 0.01% share of a word or word sequence is „much“. Here, however, we are dealing with four or even five zeros after the decimal point before a digit greater than zero comes. That is then little. This can be tested by using USE to survey other common expressions such as „European unification“, „European unity“ and the like, all of which reach higher values. For illustration purposes, I will only show this using the German example.
 Nevertheless, this example shows that USE could not so easily be supplanted by other terms, but remained in play. At the same time, it is easy to see that USE was ahead of other expressions in language use in the interwar period.
 If we add the term „European Union“, which was in use long before today’s institutionalised European Union, sometimes with a small „e“, sometimes with a capital „E“, we get an idea of what constitutes „much“ and „little“ in linguistic usage.
 Back to USE in the six languages. It is abundantly clear that USE in Italian seems to be the most popular, right from the beginning, from 1845. In Italian and English, the highest values of the whole curve are reached in 1947 and 1945 respectively, in German the highest value is reached only in 1995, but it remains far below Italian and English.
 In the second graph, it is interesting to note that USE was sometimes more common in Russian than in Spanish and even more so in French. Both graphs show that USE experienced one or more upsurges everywhere in the interwar period, but that overall there was more interest in the idea or at least the catchword after the Second World War. Ultimately, each of the six curves has its own rhythm, which would deserve detailed consideration, in which the above-mentioned „national core“ of findings would play a major role.
 What you cannot see from the curves is who has actively spoken or written about USE. Were they intellectuals? Or professional politicians? Citizens? Europeanists? Revolutionaries? Etc.!
 The peaks immediately after the Second World War can be well associated with the activities of Winston S. Churchill, who repeatedly referred to „United States of Europe“ in his speeches given between 1945 and about 1950 in various European countries and e.g. the USA. He did not elaborate on the details of this catchword, but he succeeded in touching a basic emotional mood with it. In terms of content, he himself probably did not associate it with much more than what was then called the Council of Europe, in whose creation he played an important role.
 If one places oneself at the temporal beginning of the curves, it can be seen that the expression only becomes sufficiently tangible in quantitative terms in the context of the 1848 revolutions – apart from individual harbingers. This does not mean that the subject was not a little older, it is hidden in other formulations. The concrete expression USE is based on the American „United States of America“, but the reception of this new entity was only gradually and controversially received, because it was a democracy. And it was something that rather few Europeans wanted in the 19th century.
 There was a long tradition of thinking or perceiving Europe as a union of states. Some of these were wishful thinking projects, usually referred to as „European plans“ – from Pierre Dubois, at the beginning of the 14th century, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Henry IV, the French king, and Sully, many others, to Kant and his 1795 paper „Zum Ewigen Frieden“ („On Eternal Peace“) on the occasion of the Peace of Basel. And so on until the present day.
 The idea of a „Christian Republic“ was common in early modern times. This idea was modernised by the Russian Tsar Alexander I in the final phase of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as the „Holy Alliance“, which was then joined by many large and small European states from 1816 onwards. Different far-reaching ideas for a European association of states had long existed, as had the interpretation of reality as a Christian republic or the Holy Alliance as a Christian brotherly project. Of course, we are not talking here about political practices that were neither Christian nor fraternal, but predominantly warlike and violent.
 In the context of Vormärz and the revolution of 1848, USE then presented the contemporary development which only lived more strongly on democratic ideas and above all combined the idea of USE with the idea of peace. Thus it was the peace movement from the middle of the 19th century that made USE its banner. Between 1830 and 1860, USE and ideas about a political unity of Europe in general became a concern of civil society, which organised itself in a multitude of new associations, often European-international and sometimes beyond Europe.
 To this day, it is mostly civil society actors who refer back to USE. Trade unions have joined them, and the idea was also popular for a while in the European movements after 1945. The actual institutional implementation of European integration, which was not (in my opinion, but wrongly) interpreted as the realisation of a concept of any kind of „United States of Europe“, gradually pushed the issue into the background, although it became even stronger in part during the upheaval of 1989 and a few years later in the context of the major EU expansion. Lately, however, it has been more of an occasional pop-up.
The idea of Europe in the interwar period from the perspective of civil society
 By the end of the First World War, the idea of USE was already available, it did not have to be invented first. It was also kept alive during the war, the war almost proved the necessity of USE, especially since this idea was closely linked to the idea of peace.
 The founding of the League of Nations, however, strengthened visions of a future world state, but most of those in Europe who had any such visions at all were pragmatic enough to work with the idea of the USE, which was smaller than the world state. Many also believed that such a European political entity could function within the League of Nations.
 In these contexts, most attention is focused on European associations which came into being after the First World War, of which Count Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-European Union was the best known, but not the only one, and still is today. It still exists. However, this obscures the broad social spectrum in which something like USE was discussed. Less well known, but not unknown, is Wilhelm Heile (1881-1969), who played a major role in European civil society movements both in the interwar period and again immediately after the Second World War. And so there were many others from many different countries who built bridges before and after the Second World War through their commitment to a united and peaceful Europe.
 Many well-known names from the interwar period in literature, science and politics are associated with ideas of Europe and pacifism, but this connection also existed for many people who, due to the available sources, have by no means remained anonymous to us, but who play no role in public perception. Civil society lives from the breadth of its members.
 I have therefore focused my research on civil society associations, from whose names it is initially not clear that they have been important for the dissemination and discussion of the topic of USE. In particular, these are the human rights leagues and Freemasons.
 Why these one? Human rights leagues experienced a heyday in the inter-war period, as did freemasons. Some of them had extremely large numbers of members: around 1930, for example, the French League for Human Rights, which had been founded in Paris in 1898 in connection with the Dreyfus Affair and is to be regarded as the mother league of all those founded thereafter, had around 180,000 members. The Masonic lodges organised in the Grand Orient and Grand Lodge in particular had tens of thousands of members in many countries. In comparison, the approximately 6,000 members of the Pan-European Union are few.
 The two strands of civil society that formed human rights leagues and Freemasons included networking as a working method, as well as communication and information dissemination in all directions, beyond their own membership. Human rights leagues and Freemasons were networked with women’s associations, the Anti-Racism League, the League of Nations associations and many others, and the same names were encountered time and again – personalities who were extensively involved in several areas and who, by this alone, ensured permeability between the countless clubs and associations. The more one deals with civil society in the inter-war period, the more one must be astonished at how densely its infrastructure and transnational networking had developed – and how little could be done in the end to counter the emerging authoritarian and fascist regimes.
 Of course, the figures say nothing about qualities, especially since the differences in membership were sometimes very large. In Paris, many exile human rights leagues with sometimes only a few members crowded in, and not all Masonic lodges were politically and ideologically committed. Not all members did more than pay their membership fees, not all members were involved in all the issues that were being negotiated.
 Nevertheless, these two civil society strands are highly interesting for the European theme and brought the idea of European unity, often in concrete terms as a USE, closer to its members and to the press. Human rights leagues and Freemasons were regularly closely linked; a number of leagues were created with strong participation of Freemasons, as the humanistic ideals of Freemasons and the humanism inherent in the human rights idea came from the same source, the humanism of the 18th century Enlightenment. What one finds here in particular is the connection of the idea of USE with democracy and human rights. This is something we can find ourselves in today better than in „Pan-Europe“ or „Central Europe“, which were also discussed in the inter-war period.
 Originally I was interested in the human rights leagues, especially in the inter-war period, but soon the personal connections between them and Freemasons became apparent. While reading the sources I immediately came across the strong presence of the European theme, especially the idea of the USE, which was concretised as a USE based on democracy and human rights. Since at that time several European states were still colonial powers, colonialism was regularly discussed in the context of the Europe theme. It was obvious that subsequent discussions on civilisation and culture would follow.
 This outlines a semantic field in which VSE can often be situated in the interwar period: Peace – League of Nations / World State – Democracy – Human Rights – Culture/Civilisation – European colonialism.
I will now turn first to the issue of the USE in the human rights leagues.
„United States of Europe“ in the human rights leagues
 In 1922, the human rights leagues, which at that time were mainly based in Europe, joined together to form the Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme (FIDH). At the end of the 1920s there were about 30 leagues, some of which, as mentioned above, were in French, mostly Parisian exile.
 The Fédération internationale held its annual congress in Brussels on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June 1926 and devoted it to the topic of the USE, which was dealt with in three of the four half-day sessions.
 First of all, such a congress is a document of „living Europe“. Even the arrival of the delegates was anything but easy, some arrived late because they had been held up at the borders. None of the reports on the human rights situation in the countries from which the delegates came were happy, quite the contrary. The motive for these leagues to talk about USE was not political calculation, but democratic and human rights idealism.
 I mention this explicitly because in the recent debate on the history of human rights, idealism is increasingly being denied as a motive and driving force, with civil society associations hardly ever being examined, at least not with regard to the interwar period. Of course, the aims of the human rights leagues and other associations were anything but apolitical: they wanted a united Europe built on peace, democracy and human rights. That was highly political. But that could not be done without the energiser called idealism. The fact that after the Second World War, governments supported the establishment of human rights at various levels of action may indeed have had more to do with Cold War strategies than with idealism, but it is all the more necessary to look for idealism where it determined action, namely in many civil-society associations.
 When it comes to the subject of European unity, European integration, it has also become customary to speak mainly of their political fathers – and occasionally mothers – and to leave the driving role of civil society unmentioned. This narrative is wrong.
 Let us go back to 1926, to Brussels, to the International Congress of Human Rights Leagues. The following leagues were represented by at least one or one delegate: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain. Bulgaria was represented by a Frenchman and an English human rights organisation was present with two observers. In the second session, on the afternoon of 26 June 1926, the Round Table tackled the subject of „Building the United States of Europe“. Let us sit as silent observers on a chair in the second row and first of all consider the situation: we are not at one of the Pan-European congresses organised by Coudenhove-Kalergi, with a lot of political prominence and well-calculated press coverage; nor are we readers in the wing chair of one of the many treatises on Europe and the USE at that time. We are attending a European consultation round of about 35 men and women, who in the morning heard some depressing reports on the human rights situation in large parts of Europe and decided on activities such as a resolution etc., and are now starting to analyse, on the basis of the topic of the USE, whether this can help to remedy the depressing situation. There is a lot at stake, everything, and in the end it is a question of practical action, not of making headlines in the media.
 First, Alphonse Aulard, who holds the Chair of History of the French Revolution at the Sorbonne and is internationally renowned, will speak. He is a leading member of the French League for Human Rights. The fact that he refers to pioneers of the USE idea such as Henri de Saint-Simon, Victor Hugo and others such as Charles Lemonnier is of course very appealing to a historian, but he takes as his starting point names and knowledge that were quite widespread at the time. Lemonnier was a leading activist in the European peace movement since the 1860s and explicitly advocated USE in writing and in speech. He wrote a book on USE and published the magazine „Les Etats-Unis d’Europe“.
 Referring to a Paris speech by Ignaz Seipel, who was Austrian Federal Chancellor in 1922-24 and 1926-29, Aulard defines the idea of the USE as „an actual community whose purpose is to ensure the well-being of all“. The well-being of all includes: Human rights, democracy, fraternity, justice – principles that can only be realised „for and through peace“. To this end, the peoples of the continent must form political and economic alliances. Aulard refers to the USA and Switzerland as successful examples.
 Of course, there are other reasons for the formation of USE, such as the war-induced decline of Europe and international economic competition. Aulard adds that they, the human rights activists, are idealists, but that what this congress is about is first and foremost the practical implementation of the ideals.
 Aulard then announces the further programme of lectures, which he derives from his definitional elements: Currency and finance, labour and production, customs union, law, emigration (a major theme and main legal problem of the post-war period in view of the many stateless persons and minorities), intellectual life and peace.
 Referring to Charles Lemonnier’s book on USE, Aulard highlights economics as the linchpin of the road to USE. In other words, what was institutionalised in 1957 with the EEC – economy as the linchpin of European unity – had already been clearly recognised in 1926 – in the full knowledge that this had also been seen in the 1860s. There is an additional important aspect, emphasised by Aulard, that the economic organisation of Europe must go hand in hand with the intellectual organisation. „Intellectual“ in Aulard’s view apparently aims at the value framework, again following Lemonnier: peace through freedom, freedom through education. Aulard was firmly convinced, in the style of Victor Hugo, that the abolition of borders and customs duties would bring about the freedom that made peace possible. In concrete terms, this meant the freedoms of our present EU internal market. Aulard quotes Victor Hugo, a letter written by the poet on 4 September 1869 to the participants of the Peace Congress in Lausanne.
 All well and good, but what to do with the existing nation states? Aulard answers this question. I quote Aulard (English translation W.S.): „It is not a question of merging all the fatherlands into one and forming a centralised Europe with uniform administrative units. It is not a question of centralisation, but on the contrary of a federation in which each nation finds its place with its laws, its genius, its intact personality. (…) Each nation would be all the more alive and strong insofar as it was in a system of mutual support. It would lose only one right, that of war for economic or any other reason.“(Cahiers des droits de l’homme 26 (1926), Paris, p. 419)
 Aulard then addresses the question of how the USE and the League of Nations should relate to each other, whether both would make sense at all if they were to coexist. Here he concludes that the League of Nations can only gain strength through the „solidity of an organised Europe“. The task of creating USE is by no means impossible, he says, since the first steps have already been taken, such as the Locarno and other agreements, and he places them in the context of the creation of future USE. Roughly the same argument can be found in Aristide Brian’s memorandum for the League of Nations in 1930.
 In all aspects and formulations of Aulard’s speech, one can identify central arguments, motivations and practices on the way to European integration after the Second World War. Aulard does not speak literally of „spill-over“ effects, but in fact it boils down to this. His outline of the USE is similar in many respects to what we have with the EU.
 I have not summarised Aulard in detail here because he was very original – may he forgive me! – no, on the contrary, because he summarised very well and brought into a coherent train of thought the elements of discourse that were in circulation. It is important to recognise that the idea of the USE in the inter-war period is very similar to that of the later EU. Anyone who calls for USE nowadays because the EU is too little, only proves that he or she has never dealt with the contents of the idea of USE.
 Before we listen a little to the other speakers at the 1926 European Congress, I would like to take a look at the archive box where, in addition to newspaper clippings, there is a small collection of European writings, specifically on the USE, compiled by another leading member of the French League for Human Rights – Jules Prudhommaux, who later became Secretary General of the Fédération internationale des Ligues des droits de l’homme (FIDH) in 1936-1938. He was also secretary of the Fédération française des Associations pour la S.D.N. These are texts in English, French and German which were most probably sent to Prudhommaux because of his links with the League of Nations. The latter wrote articles for the magazine of the French League of Human Rights, especially on European issues. Among other things, he presented Aristide Briand’s European initiative to the League of Nations in this magazine.
 First, Sir Max Waechter (1837-1924, born in Stettin, a British citizen since 1865) appears with „How to make war impossible. The United States of Europe“, which was written before World War I and printed after the war, about 1922, with current references, e.g. to the League of Nations. Enclosed is a pre-printed, unsigned letter from apparently Waechter himself, in French, in which the name of the recipient with typewriter is inserted in the appropriate place. Waechter asks the addressee of his letter for his opinion and mentions that before the war he had founded the „Ligue pour l’Unité Européenne“ (European Federation League). Waechter has written several short texts, some of them lectures, on the same subject.
 It follows in the box by Dr. Hendrik Clemens Muller „International European Law. An essay on the future United States of Europe“, The Hague 1924. This writing was also conceived before the First World War. The print, which is only a few pages long, is mainly the plan for a much more detailed book, which was to begin with Hugo Grotius. Muller (1855-1927) was a social democrat and philhellenic, but I could not find the book he had announced, it was probably never published. In any case, Muller planned to write about a „Code of the United States of Europe“.
 The following is a typewritten report on a project for a „Confédération internationale des Etats Européens“ by a certain Mr Troubat Le Houx. In principle the report is anonymous and undated, references to the Munich Agreement and the occupation of the so-called Sudetenland allow a dating to autumn/late autumn 1938. Certain formulations also suggest that Troubat Le Houx himself was the author. The paper thrives on the belief that a realistic agreement on Europe could be reached with Hitler. François-Joseph Troubat (1874-1968) ran a company producing candles and other wax products and was a pacifist. In 1934 he published a 100-page paper entitled „L’Europe et la paix“, and in 1963 he wrote a paper (in French) on „The Atomic Age and Peace“. Troubat was no stranger to the French press, partly because of his prominent position in the wax manufacturing industry and partly as a pacifist author.
 Within the framework of the authors, whose tracts etc. make up the bundle from the estate of Prudhommaux, Troubat represents activists who, as pacifists (and by no means fascists), firmly believed that a confederation of European states could be achieved with Hitler.
 There is also a printed version of Briand’s famous memorandum on a „Union fédérale européenne“ of 1 May 1930. The ghost-writer of the text was Alexis Leger, also known by his stage name Saint-John Perse; he received the Nobel Literature Prize in 1960 and died at the age of 88 in 1975.
 Briand was repeatedly French Prime Minister in the 1920s and was Minister of Foreign Affairs from April 1925 to January 1932. He was extremely cautious, speaking of a „sort of federal link“ between the peoples of Europe, with which a regime of lasting solidarity could be established. Since Briand put his idea to the League of Nations, it was necessary not to create a contradiction between the League of Nations and a „Association européenne“. In terms of content, the proposal did not go beyond what was already being discussed in the context of USE. However, a kind of minimum institutional structure was outlined, from which one was obviously inspired after the Second World War. The last paragraph begins with the warning „S’unir pour vivre et prospérer …“ – this is clearly the wish of the peoples of Europe, it is the responsibility of governments to act on it. After all, the peoples of Europe are recognised here as co-authors, so to speak, of the idea of a united Europe.
 Let us take the next document in the box, a typewritten summary with occasional handwritten improvements of a lecture given by the President of Columbia University on September 3, 1939, Nicholas Murray Butler. Butler was also president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and in 1931 he received the Nobel Peace Prize, together with Jane Addams. A reprint of the lecture is also available. Butler established a connection between the USA of the founding fathers with the idea of USE. He quoted a letter from Benjamin Franklin to a French friend, M. Grand, dated 22 October 1787, in which he sent him a copy of the constitutional proposal of the Philadelphia Convention of 17 September 1787 and in which he said that the European states, like the North American states in particular, could form a „union fédérale“ after all, while also referring to the European political project of the French King Henry IV, which we know as the „Grand Plan“ of his minister and friend Sully. So Franklin did not write literally about USE, but in terms of content it came down to this. Butler’s lecture then focused on the question of a world state.
 Another piece in the box may briefly claim our attention, the January-February 1927 issue of the bimonthly newspaper „Les Peuples Unis“, the bulletin of the pacifist association „La Paix par le Droit“. The latter had asked Morikatsu Inagaki, the Japanese European delegate of the Japanese League of Nations, to report on the attitude of Japanese media towards the question of the USE. A summary was printed in the newspaper. Inagaki pointed out that what could be considered idealistic in Europe could be perceived outside Europe as a threat, as a threat from jointly well-organised European states. He referred in particular to reactions triggered by Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-Europe initiative, who spoke out against the League of Nations.
 Finally, there is the summary of the Brussels Congress, printed in the Cahiers des droits de l’homme of 25 September 1926, to which we now return and take our places as silent listeners.
 The next speaker was the Austrian Rudolf Goldscheid, a self-made sociologist and freemason who had been in charge of the founding of the Austrian Human Rights League, which officially took place in 1926. His major topic was man as homo oeconomicus. For a prospering economy, national borders had to be abolished, but one also had to make sure that workers could develop fully, without them there would be no prospering economy. He speaks of economic human rights. Economic cooperation requires the free movement of persons, ideas and goods, as well as a uniform system of passwords and international trade agreements. And in general, customs duties must first be dismantled.
 Goldscheid did not evade the question of how to organise this practically. He brought a European Economic Council or a European Parliament into play, he asked whether partial confederations, for example between France, England and Germany or between the Balkan states could be a promising start. Other keywords, for which solutions should be worked out, are unemployment, monetary union, harmonisation of tax legislation, harmonisation of constitutions, which democratic principles should be found in all constitutions in any case, defence union, fair access for all to raw materials, education and training, etc. Goldscheid mentions social and racial hygiene as further keywords, without going into detail. This was a topic taken up by many European thinkers in the interwar period, which is also found again, for example, in the well-known book „New Europe“ (1918) by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. The presence of such ideas makes it clear that one must avoid romanticizing the treatment of the USE theme in the interwar period. Goldscheid makes it clear that the road to the USE will take many years.
 The lectures of Aulard and Goldscheid are discussed together in a quite controversial manner. One problem repeatedly raised here and in many other places is who should belong to USE: even the states that had already become fascist at the time? (The human rights leagues operated with a broad concept of fascism.) The Soviet Union? The USA? Great Britain, the centre of a global Commonwealth? How should the relationship to the League of Nations be? Should there be other United States – Asian, African? Should one strive for a world state, a world federation?
 Other presentations, which I do not give in detail, covered topics such as monetary union, international finance, tax union. The complex of customs union was presented by the German delegate Robert Kuczinsky, the complex of „intellectual cooperation and organisation of peace“ by Maurice Wilmotte, President of the Belgian Human Rights League. Wilmotte advocated the creation of an „esprit européen“. „Intellectual cooperation“ includes education and training and a critical examination of pan-Germanism, but also other nationalisms, which should lead to a „paix des cerveaux“. He stresses the role of universities, the value of semesters abroad, the preparatory work of learned societies in international cooperation. In the discussion, the need to critically revise history textbooks is raised. The final topics are colonialism, which is understood as a mission of civilisation, but which must also include the legalisation of relations between colonisers and colonised people; the question of the legal status of foreigners in the USE, where basic lines of the legal status of a European citizen can be identified. Special attention is paid to labour migration.
 The Congress will end with a unanimously adopted resolution in favour of the creation of USE, to be forwarded to the President of the League of Nations. President from 1923 to 1945 was Robert Cecil, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937. The resolution followed the core arguments of the speeches.
 The detailed report on the Congress was, as mentioned, published in the Cahiers des droits de l’homme, which appeared fortnightly and in the mid-1920s probably had some 15,000 to 20,000 subscribers, of whom an unknown percentage lived abroad and outside Europe.
„United States of Europe“ among Freemasons
 Let’s go back to 1933 to a Masonic Congress which was concerned with the „Europe of tomorrow“. In principle it was the annual convention of the Grand Lodge of France, but it was planned together with the Grand Symbolic Lodge of Germany. Hitler’s seizure of power prevented this cooperation.
 Ca 1920 there were around two million Masons in the USA alone, around 300,000 in Latin America, around 270,000 in the United Kingdom, around 40,000 in Germany and around 32,000 in France. There were international institutional structures, but they only functioned well to a limited extent. After the First World War, reconciliation with the German lodges, some of which were very nationalistic, remained a difficult task. In any case, until 1933 there were intensive efforts between French and German lodges to normalise the relationship.
 The interwar period was a high time for Freemasons, even if not all lodges were politically involved. The example of the Grand Lodge of France shows how internal communication took place. Every year a convention was organised for which 3-5 themes were defined. For this purpose, handouts were drawn up which were published in the Bulletin and served as preparation for the local Lodges. The local Lodges were invited to send their own preparatory papers to Paris, where they were summarised in a report and also published in the Bulletin. Member Lodges overseas, in the French colonial empire, also took part in this work. I had already pointed out the important ideological and personal links between human rights leagues and freemasons.
 The Grand Lodge of France regularly dealt with Europe and the issue of the USE during the inter-war period. In 1922, the Annual Convention discussed what Freemasons could contribute to the concerns of the League of Nations and noted, among other things, that „the natural and necessary method of organising peace is to create a League of Nations between States (Société des Nations) or a Federation of Peoples or United States of Europe (Victor Hugo), or rather of the world“. 31 lodges had submitted essay-like papers. They suggested, for example, that the League of Nations should create the USE or that an „esprit européen“, a „European spirit“, should be created. This latter argument, as reported, had also played a role at the 1926 Congress of Human Rights Leagues. The Convention even pleaded for the creation of a democratic „superstate“, which would have to obey the principle of separation of powers.
 Let us now turn to the Convention of 1933 and the „Europe of tomorrow“. The GLDF addressed a „preliminary remark“ to its German brothers from the Grand Symbolic Lodge, also translated into German. The plan provided for the two Grand Lodges to debate the subject before exchanging and coordinating their conclusions. However, political developments in Germany prevented this plan from being implemented.
 The rapporteur, Charles Riandey, noted that 97 GLDF member lodges had submitted reports of varying quality and depth to the Commission, which was responsible for preparing the subject and presenting it to the Congress. Riandey presented the Commission’s conclusion, which was based on the local reports to the Convention.
 The lodges of the southern region had met in April 1933 for a regional congress, their twenty-second. Brother H. Delbosc, delegate of the Lodge Solidarité Lyonnaise to the congress, summarised the results. The Regional Congress went beyond the later National Congress and postulated the United States of Europe, which would be constituted as a Republic and governed by a Supreme Council. The members of the Council were to be elected by the peoples of the countries that formed the Republic. The Board of Governors would have access to police forces and should communicate in a commonly spoken language (namely Esperanto). Europe should use a single currency and its media should be independent and follow the humanitarian ideal. Freemasonry would be a constructive supporter of this Europe of tomorrow.
 The call for contributions to the Europe theme published in the „Bulletin Officiel“ contained basic information. Although there were only two main forms of government in Europe – the republic and the monarchy – they appeared in very different forms. The French Republic was closer to the Belgian monarchy than the German Weimar Republic. An attempt should be made to harmonise these forms of government as far as possible. Next, the text dealt with the question of racism, language prejudices and ethnic minorities within the nation state. Before a European federation could be realised, it was necessary to guarantee an undisturbed way of life for these minorities. The final question was whether a revision of the peace treaties should also be considered.
 On the economic front, the Lodges were asked to examine what prevented the European economy from flourishing and what benefits free trade and the abolition of customs duties could bring. What about a global currency? As far as society was concerned, the Lodges were expected to look at public education and the media. The call for topics advocated a coordinated international education system with harmonised content (an anti-nationalist position) and pleaded for the improvement and expansion of exchange programmes for young people. The media were criticised for being biased and only serving specific interests.
 The bibliography made available to the brothers listed 34 titles, including books such as Bertrand de Jouvenel’s „Vers les Etats-Unis d’Europe“ (1930), Edouard Herriot’s „Europa“ (1930) , also published in German in 1930 under the title „Vereinigte Staaten von Europa“, Edgar Stern-Rubarth’s „Stresemann, der Europäer“ (Engl. 1930), David Jayne Hill’s ‚La reconstruction de l’Europe‘ (1918) and Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu’s ‚Les Etats-Unis de l’Europe‘ (1901).
 The conclusion proposed to the Convention was that one should start with a basic Charter setting out the main moral principles for Europe: No distinction between people on the basis of race, nation, religion or social class. All men were brothers, and their differences should only be resolved by pacifist methods. The GLDF was convinced that all issues and conflicts could be resolved after a thorough examination of the underlying problems. Law and justice should rule the world, not nationalism. The conclusion also affirmed the right to work for everyone and that no one should be discriminated against in terms of the benefits that humanity derives from natural resources and technological progress. Contemporary civilisation was in danger and had to be protected from violence and dictatorship. The GLDF was also convinced that problems between states could be mediated and resolved through the League of Nations. It saw international economic interdependence that precluded nationalist solutions, and believed that democracy should be adapted to current needs in order to better resist the temptations of dictatorship.
 As you can see, the principles laid down were indeed great principles based on a moral view of politics, economics, international relations and the human being.
 Even though the intended cooperation with the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany could not be realised due to the political circumstances under Hitler in 1933, various Freemasons took part in the congress held in the same year as representatives of foreign lodges. Grand Master Daubenfeld of the Grande Loge du Luxembourg gave a speech in the closing session, in which he also addressed the current situation in Europe and apparently shared the views of the GLDF. Daubenfeld attributed a leading role to French civilisation and French Freemasonry in the Europe of his time.
 At its meeting on 23 November 1933, the Federal Council of the GLDF decreed that the resolution adopted by the Convention on the Charter for the Future Europe should be printed in 200,000 copies.
 Looking back at the content of the USE concept at the two congresses I used as case studies in 1926 and 1933, one cannot help but wonder whether by 2020 we will be intellectually more advanced in the EU than people were in the inter-war period. In practical terms, of course, yes, because much of what has been thought in the inter-war period has been realised in the EU. However, many things that were already clearly seen in the inter-war period and in some cases long before, are still waiting to be realised. And some, such as the growing nationalism and the tendency to isolate in the European states, seem like the way back to the nationalistic division of interwar Europe.
 In terms of content, USE is actually no different from what we have, the EU. It is therefore not appropriate to claim that there is a contradiction between the EU and the USE. It is not without reason that many discussants of USE in the inter-war period were cautious in describing a concrete state structure. They had a sense that this had to develop in practice, as happened after the Second World War in many stages of development from the ECSC to the EU. The process is also continuing.
 If my thesis that the EU is anything like a USE is correct, we must face the following problem: As nice as it is that a concept that was already well developed in the inter-war period has now taken shape in many ways – not as a USE, but as an EU – we have to ask ourselves whether the concept meets the challenges of our time? Are they still the same challenges or have they changed fundamentally? After the First World War, Europe was not militarily threatened by any power outside Europe; this kind of threat developed in Europe itself. Today – at least so far – no EU-European country is developing a military threat against other EU members, this type of threat comes from outside and is expressed less in tanks than in a combination of terrorism, cyber attacks, fomenting conspiracy ideologies, informational destabilisation, etc. The US under Trump and China use economic power as a weapon, Europe has no sovereignty over digitality, climate change can only be dealt with in European and ultimately global solidarity, etc. etc. In comparison, the EU’s realisation of the inter-war conceptualisation of USE today is too little – not to mention the current decline of „esprit européen“.
Documentation: This paper presents the English version of my lecture on „Vereinigte Staaten von Europa. Die zivilgesellschaftliche Idee von Europa nach 1918 “ at Thomas-Morus Akademie (Germany, Bensberg) on 30 October 2020. Paragraphs 61-74 use my Freemasons-chapter, p. 55-58, of: Wolfgang Schmale: For a Democratic „United States of Europe“ (1918-1951). Freemasons – Human Rights Leagues – Winston S. Churchill – Individual Citizens. Stuttgart (Franz Steiner Verlag) 2019.
Further Readings: Wolfgang Schmale/Christopher Treiblmayr (eds.): Human Rights Leagues in Europe (1898-2016). Stuttgart (Franz Steiner Verlag) 2017.
Quote as: Wolfgang Schmale: United States of Europe [https://wolfgangschmale.eu/united-states-of-europe] (published 30 October 2020).