Altiero Spinelli and Ursula Hirschmann

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith
Paul of Tarsus, ascribed
(Second Epistle to Timothy 4:7)

Altiero Spinelli (Rome, 31 August, 1907 – Rome, 23 May, 1986)
Inspirator of the unity of Europe.
In 1943 Altiero Spinelli was released after sixteen years in Fascists prisons and founded the Movimento Federalista Europeo in Milan. Since then he was a consistent and devoted champion of the cause of a united Europe.
In 1966 he founded l’Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome and in 1970 he joined the European Commission.
In 1976 Spinelli was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies and then in the Italian delegation to the European Parliament. In 1984 the European Parliament (after the first direct elections in 1979) approved the Draft Treaty, which designed a federal reform of the Community, promoted by the Crocodile Club, a group of MEPs founded by Spinelli.
The European Council met in the next year in Milan and decided to convene the Intergovernmental Conference that drafted the Single European Act, less ambitious than the Draft Treaty. In the following years the Single European Act relaunched the Community on a path which led to the Euro and to a further strengthening of the Parliament’s powers.

The Ventotene Manifesto by Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi.
For a Free and United Europe. A draft Manifesto.
The Ventotene Manifesto was written in mid-1941 by Spinelli and Rossi (an economics professor leader of the social-liberal movement Giustizia and Libertà) in confinement on the island of Ventotene.
After the reading of two articles written in 1918 by Luigi Einaudi (a liberal economist who had been Rossi’s professor) predicting that the League of Nations would not prevent another European war and advocating a European federation, Spinelli and Rossi studied works by contemporary British federalist writers and wrote the Ventotene Manifesto in order to initiate a movement to campaign for a European Federation.
Spinelli drafted all Manifesto’s sections save one which Rossi drafted on economic and social policy but each of them influenced what the other wrote. Spinelli in the second half of 1942 wrote the essay on ‘The United States of Europe and the Various Political Tendencies’ and in 1943 the one on ‘Marxist Policy and Federalist Policy’.

Hirschmann was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Berlin, where she studied economics at Humboldt University of Berlin together with her brother Albert O. Hirschman, later a candidate for the Nobel Prize. In 1932, she joined the youth organization of the Social Democratic Party to participate in the resistance against the advance of the Nazis.

In the summer of 1933 Ursula and her brother moved to Paris where they met Eugenio Colorni, a young Italian philosopher and Socialist, whom they had already known in Berlin. She continued to Trieste, the home town of Colorni, where she got married to him in 1935. They had three daughters: Silvia, Renata and Eva (who in 1973 married the Indian economist Amartya Sen). The couple became engaged in the clandestine anti-fascist opposition. In 1939 Eugenio was arrested and sent to confinement on the island of Ventotene. Ursula followed her husband there, but as she was not herself held in confinement, she could travel back to the mainland.

Among the other prisoners and friends of Eugenio Colorni on Ventotene were Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli, who in 1941 co-authored the famous Ventotene Manifesto "for a free and united Europe", i.e. an early sketch of a postwar democratic European Union. Ursula managed to bring the text of the manifesto to the mainland and took part in its dissemination. On 27 and 28 August 1943, she participated in the foundation of the European Federalist Movement in Milan.

Having escaped from Ventotene in 1943, Ursula Hirschmann's husband Eugenio Colorni was murdered by fascists in Rome in May 1944. Thereafter, Altiero Spinelli became Ursula's second husband. The couple went to Switzerland, and from there to Rome, where they settled after the war. They had three daughters: Diana, Barbara and Sara.

In 1975 Ursula Hirschmann founded the Association Femmes pour l'Europe in Brussels, then in the first days of December of that year, suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage, followed by aphasia, from which she was never to recover completely.