Cabannes and the future of Europe
An interview of Henri Cabannes was carried out and published by the Romanian "Magazin Istoric", in the issue 428 (November 2002). We give below a version of his answer to the question "At present, what do you recommend to young Europeans?" To EFR and JOC, writing this biographical material for Cabannes in September 2019 in Britain at a time when it prepares to leave the European Union, Cabannes' wishes for Europe seem somewhat hollow. He writes:
At present, I am no longer young. My youth is quite far away, but I have not forgotten it, since forgetting one's young days is impossible for a generation having lived through what my contemporaries and myself have lived through. It took France 1000 years to build itself up, as was the case with all the countries that have known glorious times: Italy, Portugal, Spain, and England. As for Germany, its situation is different. Hitler's peace, which was supposed to "last one thousand years", has never existed and his reign, which lasted twelve years, ended with his suicide.
I would like to say to young Europeans, whether French, Romanian, British or German, that they must now, all of them and all together, build Europe. This will require a lot of patience and time, but this will not take one thousand years. With the extraordinary growth of transport and of telecommunications - particularly the internet - The Earth has become a village. At present, it takes only 12 hours to travel from Paris to Tokyo. When my father, a student in Paris, went to see his parents in Nice, the journey lasted 14 hours! When my maternal grandfather, whom I knew well, was a child, electricity did not exist.
At present, the European nations, even the most populated ones, cannot live by themselves. Europe, from the Atlantic to the Ural (as general de Gaulle expressed it), forms a whole of 600 million inhabitants who have more than ten centuries of common culture, particularly religious culture. In the old days, wars were waged to move borders. Today borders are not moved any more: they are erased. Since the end of World War II, the unification of Western Europe has progressed slowly but surely. My wife and I have driven to Germany several times without having to stop at the border, or even lately without having to change money. This, of course, is a great material progress, but it is also a source of psychological satisfaction. We have very good friends in Germany where, except for languages, everything is the same. My wife and I have become convinced Europeans.
Lastly I would like to say to all the young: "do become Europeans, without disowning your homeland. Travel with enthusiasm and passion. Make friends in all parts of Europe". To this I would like to add one wish, even though it may seem irrelevant: "take care of your health, don't damage it by an excessive use of tobacco or alcohol. Europe needs you, needs all the Europeans, all its children, passionate and enthusiastic but also in good health. Good luck to Romania, good luck to Europe!"