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Charlemagne, the Pan-Europeanism, the Nazis

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Among the miscellaneous vicissitudes faced by the figure of Charlemagne during the centuries, it should be noted the most recent ones, those of the 20th century. Charlemagne was to have been progressively regimented in favour of the Pan-European movement after the First World War, German Nazism, and the post-1945 European construction

The Pan-European movement, which had been born after 1918 is usually presented as one extreme-right movement. More likely, it is a National-liberal movement attached to the Weimar Republic in Germany and Aristide Briand in France, aiming to prevent a recurrence of the misfortunes of the Great War. Charlemagne allowed diplomats to insist on what united Germany and France and on both nations' original relationship. In 1934, they told German minister Stresemann wished a Europe of union economic between France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, in the state they were like before 1914, on which to build a European federation. The Pan-European movement survived the Second World War as it was at the origin of the Council of Europe

While the Germans, through their nationalist historical School of the 19th century, had already met the Carolingians -and even the Merovingians- in their immense work of source review that consisted into the MGH (the 'Monumenta Germaniae Historica' or 'Historical Monuments of Germania', they were to meet Charlemagne again because of the Nazis. Hitler was seeing Charlemagne like the one justifying that the Roman empire be transmitted to the Germans -as Moscow, on the other hand, was a perpetuation of the Byzantine empire. That view, strictly, was that of the clan of Hitler as neo-pagans like Himmler or even Rosenberg was having a bad image of Charles, for who he was the destroyer of old Germany and the converter by force of Saxons. Of note that the idea was also that of the liberal French thinker of the 19th century, Michelet, a proponent with Republican views, linked to Guizot and the English ideas of the Enlightenment. Charlemagne, however, as he was tall, blond, Aryan, the conqueror of Slavs could also be of use to them. Finally, once France occupied after the defeat of 1940, Charlemagne was called to help to the service of the Collaboration, that move through which some French deliberately joined Nazism. On the occasion of the 1200th anniversary of the birth of Charlemagne in 1942 and the 1100th anniversary of the Treaty of Verdun in 1943, Charlemagne was considered the ancestor of Europe as opposed to nationalisms generated by Verdun, this 'sabotage of Europe' like French writer Celine had written. Such relatively moderate views were also often exceeded. Charlemagne may be finally seen like the precursor of Hitler. A commemorative plate from the Manufacture de Sèvres is stating: 'the Empire of Charlemagne, shared by his heirs in 843, defended in 1943 by Adolf Hitler with the contest of all European peoples.' Also was stated the 'new racial unity of Western germanity,' or the last French unit engaged on the sides of the German army was turned, by 1944, into the 'Division Charlemagne,' the 33rd Waffen SS division, fighting on the eastern front for the new, racist and anti-Communist Europe

Charlemagne, eventually, was to be immediately re-used, after 1945, at the service of the Europe of democracies and peoples. The famous Charlemagne Prize, for example, rewards personalities working for Europe

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 7/18/2014. contact us at
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