Alcide de Gasperi (1881-1954)
From 1945 up until 1953, Alcide de Gasperi, in his roles as Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, forged the path of Italy's internal and external policies in the post-war years.
He was born in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige (South Tyrol) which had, until 1918, belonged to Austria. Like other exceptional statesmen of his time, he campaigned actively for European unity. His experiences of fascism and war - he was imprisoned between 1926 and 1929 before finding asylum in the Vatican - led to his conviction that only the union of Europe could prevent their recurrence.
Time and again he promoted initiatives for the fusion of Western Europe, working on the realisation of the Marshall Plan and creating close economic ties with other European countries, in particular France. Furthermore, he supported the Schuman Plan for the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community, and helped develop the idea of the common European defence policy.