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-On 17 July 1979...
-..the first directly-elected
-European parliament sat.
-An 86-year-old woman came forward
-to deliver the opening speech.
-She was the oldest MEP.
-She was a pro-European campaigner
-and fought for women's rights.
-Her name was Louise Weiss.
-The late 19th century was
-a turbulent time in French history.
-After the Franco-Prussian War,
-Germany had annexed Alsace.
-As natives of Alsace, Louise Weiss's
-family was very patriotic.
-They chose exile over being Germans.
-Louise was born in 1893
-in the city of Arras.
-She achieved good grades at school
-and longed for her father's praise.
-Unfortunately, her father thought
-a woman's place was in the home.
-This was a wealthy
-upper middle class family.
-It meant that Louise Weiss
-could afford to study.
-But to her father, one thing
-was wrong - she was a girl.
-At the time, women were considered
-to be inferior citizens.
-The only right they had
-was their social duty.
-Marrying and bearing children.
-They weren't expected to study.
-The Weiss family
-had lived in Paris since 1899.
-Louise had been a fine student.
-She studied at Lycee Moliere
-and won awards...
-..but had to hide them
-from her father.
-This was what she wrote.
-I was raised in a passionately
-..but the moral principles
-mirrored that of the Gospels.
-But my thirst for knowledge was such
-that it eased the fire of my youth.
-Her mother was aware
-of her daughter's talents.
-She encouraged her to succeed
-in her civil service exams...
-..and keep it from her father.
-In the summer of 1914, aged 21,
-Louise became the youngest person...
-..to earn France's highest
-On 1 August,
-the city bells rang out...
-..to signal the start
-of the First World War.
-Frenchmen were called to battle.
-As the German army drew closer,
-the people of northern France fled.
-Like thousands of others,
-the Weiss family fled from Paris...
-..to a house they owned
-in Saint-Quai-Potrieux, Brittany.
-As a civil servant...
-..Louise Weiss didn't want
-to carry on as a teacher...
-..so she resigned.
-She was eager to help refugees
-who were pouring into Brittany.
-This was the start of her work
-as a humanitarian campaigner.
-To understand the motives
-for the killing...
-..and hoping to find solutions
-to secure a peaceful future...
-..Louise returned to Paris.
-She started work as a journalist
-and attended conferences.
-At a conference, she met a Czech
-officer called Milan Stefanik.
-He was the man who showed Louise
-how to dedicate herself seriously...
-..to a cause about which she was
-passionate, and change situations.
-Stefanik was an advocate
-of free and independent states.
-Louise seized upon a dream of
-an Europe based on people's rights.
-In January 1918, Louise established
-a magazine called L'Europe Nouvelle.
-The New Europe.
-On 11 November 1918,
-the war came to an end.
-But the young journalist
-was betrayed by Milan Stefanik.
-He chose to play a part
-in the creation of Czechoslovakia...
-..alongside an Italian woman.
-Louise never saw him again.
-For Louise Weiss, it was
-the end of a glorious romance.
-Afterwards, she found it difficult
-to form another relationship.
-Heartbroken, Louise Weiss focused
-all her energy on her magazine...
-..and the fight to establish
-an European confederation.
-In 1919, she was present when
-the Treaty of Versailles was signed.
-But she disagreed with the way
-France belittled Germany...
-..and how victorious states
-oppressed the defeated states.
-Her magazine echoed her opinion
-that Europe couldn't move on...
-..without its people
-Weiss dreamt of a humanitarian
-and cultural Europe.
-An Europe of the people.
-For Louise Weiss, a stable Europe
-had to conquer xenophobia...
-..and required a supranational
-Parliament to change existing laws.
-Her magazine became a laboratory
-for new ideas and innovation.
-If only the politicians and leaders
-could understand and negotiate...
-..then a Parliament could become
-a genuine political option.
-The desire for peace
-had to be promoted.
-The elite had to be educated
-about that desire.
-Louise Weiss was a supporter
-of the League of Nations...
-..which favoured talks
-over waging war.
-She became friends
-with Aristide Briand...
-They both believed
-that nationalism led to war.
-Aristide Briand was called
-an apostle of peace.
-His ideas appealed to others
-and suited Louise Weiss.
-He knew that she could
-ensure good publicity.
-Louise Weiss knew
-that she had to educate people.
-Near the Ministry
-of Foreign Affairs...
-the College of Peace.
-She hoped it would influence
-the leaders of the future...
-..and persuade them
-to be unconditional pacifists.
-We want to know
-why wars occur, and when...
-..and under what conditions.
-If we understood this, maybe
-we can learn how to prevent wars.
-30 January 1933.
-To everyone's surprise,
-Hitler came to power...
-the European dream.
-Aristide Briand's hopes were dashed.
-There was now no hope of peace.
-War loomed on the horizon,
-and Louise Weiss faced a choice.
-If her magazine carried on...
-..it could have become a voice
-for Nazis and Fascists.
-didn't consider that a choice.
-She preferred to give it up.
-The title of her final editorial,
-on 3 February 1934, was...
-..."We will never
-make a pact with Hitler."
-Then she left, her dream of a united
-and peaceful Europe in pieces.
-In the 1930s, France suffered
-a deep economic recession.
-Unemployment was high,
-and living conditions had plummeted.
-The country was on its knees.
-Women remained without a voice.
-Fighting for women's rights
-at that time would seem crazy.
-But Louise Weiss began her new
-campaign, in the name of justice.
-independent and childless...
-..she threw all her energy
-into the fight for women's suffrage.
-between men and women.
-She wanted to be politically active,
-but found she couldn't do much...
-didn't have the right to vote.
-Maybe she campaigned for women's
-suffrage out of necessity.
-But male politicians weren't ready
-to change the electoral system.
-Their answers to the calls
-from feminists were definite...
-..but also shameful.
-They gave the impression...
-..women were stupid and incapable
-and would cause chaos.
-They created caricatures of women
-who dared to insist on their rights.
-In 1934, to support
-her commitment to feminism...
-..Louise Weiss established
-La Femme Nouvelle, the new woman...
-..a centre to publicize
-who fought in the shadows...
-..was about to emerge
-into the light.
-Women the world over
-have the right to vote...
-..except in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia,
-Switzerland and France.
-How can such a situation continue?
-She proposed female candidates
-in some elections...
-..even though the system
-didn't support them.
-She also encouraged women
-in Paris to vote.
-In 1935, she decided to stand
-in Paris's civic elections...
-..even though this was illegal.
-She set up her HQ in a cafe
-that was usually frequented by men.
-Equality between the sexes had
-become more important than ever...
-..especially political equality.
-Securing the vote would enable women
-to introduce measures...
-..to allow them take their rightful
-place in the economic hierarchy.
-On election day, accomplished orator
-Weiss set up stalls on streets...
-..to encourage women to vote.
-Her efforts were met
-with a savage reaction.
-There was a lot of facetiousness,
-and much press attention.
-wasn't afraid of the journalists.
-The attention actually suited her.
-The police decided that she was
-a public nuisance, and stopped her.
-She responded by trying to persuade
-her fellow pacifists.
-There was no better persuader
-than Louise Weiss.
-In 1936, equality was on the agenda
-of the Popular Front party.
-Three women were appointed
-to posts in government.
-But politicians refused calls
-for a universal vote.
-The left believed
-that giving women the vote...
-..would be like
-giving the vote to priests.
-The right feared...
-..that women would fall into
-the clutches of the trades unions.
-Louise Weiss viewed the left and
-right's opposition as hypocritical.
-She was angry, and couldn't fathom
-her fellow campaigners' silence.
-Why wouldn't they rebel?
-These workers who were paid less
-than men doing the same jobs.
-These shop owners
-who couldn't litigate...
-..without their husbands'
-These mothers who had no authority
-over their children?
-All these women who were wronged
-but still paid their taxes.
-For Louise Weiss,
-it was a constant battle.
-She increased her activities.
-She and a handful of campaigners
-occupied Longchamp racecourse...
-..before the Grand Prix race.
-She wanted to bring the campaign
-for women's suffrage to the fore.
-In July, she organized a big protest
-at the Place de la Bastille.
-Feminists burnt chains in front
-of the memorial to people's freedom.
-All the protests were non-violent,
-dignified and enlightened.
-After the government
-refused to give women the vote...
-took the matter to the Senate.
-The senators used to go to brothels
-after their meetings.
-The feminists jumped into vehicles
-reserved for the senators...
-..and chastised them.
-"You know you are at fault."
-One senator complained
-during a Senate speech.
-"These women are terrifying,
-they disturb us all very much."
-For the male politicians...
-..these women were transgressing
-in the worst possible way.
-was a tireless campaigner...
-..but history impeded her.
-War broke out after Hitler
-attacked Austria in 1938...
-..then destroyed Czechoslovakia.
-When fighting started, she felt
-that she had failed in every field.
-Europe, peace and women's rights
-had all gone up in smoke.
-When the Germans
-reached Paris in 1940...
-had to consider her own safety.
-Her mother was Jewish.
-Her name was on a list of people
-to be arrested and exiled.
-Her flat and her property
-was to be seized by the government.
-Consequently, Louise Weiss
-needed anonymity and false papers.
-Was this to oppose the regime
-or in order to disappear?
-It remains a mystery.
-In her autobiography, she states...
-..that she founded a resistance
-magazine called The New Republic.
-This must have been a risk for her.
-She was both Jewish and well-known.
-She claims to have found a network
-to publish her secret magazine...
-..but there is no evidence of this.
-This murky period in her life
-would be an obstacle to her forever.
-It seems that Louise Weiss lost
-her place in history at that time.
-In 1944, she witnessed victory...
-..in a cause
-for which she had long battled.
-On 21 April in Algiers, foreseeing
-the French democracy's future...
-..General De Gaulle announced that
-women would be allowed to vote.
-They did so for the first time
-in the 1945 elections.
-With no cause to fight for,
-it was time for a new campaign.
-felt a need to be acknowledged.
-Maybe, after WW2, she would find
-a field where that would happen.
-Weiss liked to travel.
-As a journalist, she liked
-to describe the world to people.
-She turned to film-making.
-To do that,
-she had to choose a director.
-She arranged interviews
-for someone to operate the camera.
-she chose Georges Bourdelon...
-..who would work with her
-for over 20 years.
-Georges was only 23
-when he attended the interview.
-At the end of the interview,
-.."I expect you in Beirut
-in a week's time."
-Louise Weiss travelled the world...
-..from India to Japan,
-from Madagascar to Alaska...
-China and even Zanzibar.
-Distance or difficult filming
-conditions, nothing would stop her.
-She was an instinctive adventurer.
-Georges was always amazed
-by this woman's resilience.
-She had an incredible capacity
-Due to her journalistic
-..she had a wide network
-As a diplomat, doors opened for her.
-She successfully filmed
-where few had previously done so.
-One of Georges's favourite scenes
-was an Indian choura ceremony.
-at a choura is very private...
-..but the local imam
-gave Louise permission to film.
-Her only remaining campaign...
-..was the idea
-that clashes could be avoided...
-..if we became more familiar
-with other people and cultures.
-We can't stimulate general peace
-through anthropomorphic religions.
-Mankind in the future...
-..will need a changed relationship
-with the divine.
-But her films didn't attract
-the audience she desired.
-Around then, in Paris, she began
-to write novels, plays and essays.
-She tirelessly sought her place
-in history through her literature.
-She wanted to share her story,
-either via fiction or memoirs.
-This was also a tribute
-to her political ambitions.
-But despite her perseverance,
-her publications and awards...
-..Louise Weiss' literature
-wasn't the success that she craved.
-Once again, this was her fate.
-But history was kinder
-in her battle for Europe.
-In 1979, the first European
-Parliament elections were held.
-They put her in the spotlight.
-Jacques Chirac, the Paris mayor,
-was seeking credible candidates...
-..to change his party's
-Jacques Chirac had a problem
-with the 1979 European elections.
-He opposed direct votes
-for the European Parliament...
-..and he only had a handful
-of female candidates on his list.
-Chirac invited Louise Weiss
-to be a candidate on the list...
-..that would build the new Europe.
-It would silence
-those who claimed that his list...
-..was populated by opponents
-of a united Europe.
-Louise Weiss would underline their
-support for the European dream.
-But his strategy
-inspired a scheme by Weiss.
-on being fifth on his list...
-..in order to be present
-during the vote.
-She knew that she would be elected
-a member of the European Parliament.
-The first one
-to be directly elected.
-Furthermore, she was 86
-at the time of the election...
-..she knew she'd be the oldest MEP
-and would make the opening speech.
-Louise Weiss was spot on.
-She was elected a Member
-of the European Parliament.
-For the lifelong campaigner
-for a united Europe...
-..delivering the opening speech
-was the greatest honour of her life.
-She took great care
-when writing the speech.
-As usual, Louise
-took the matter seriously.
-She rehearsed her speech
-in front of a film director friend.
-After a light breakfast
-at her home, she said...
-.."I'm going to read my opening
-speech for the European Parliament."
-I felt she was about to cry
-because she spoke as actors do...
-..when they convey
-a great depth of feeling.
-Even though she was emotional,
-she was also very restrained.
-17 July 1979.
-As a journalist, author
-and film producer...
-..neither my ink nor my images
-ever betrayed my faith.
-At this moment, it doesn't feel
-that I have spent this century...
-..or travelled the world
-in order to attend this meeting.
-She really enjoyed the experience.
-It was the realization
-of a childhood dream...
-..but at the end of her life.
-Louise Weiss remained an MEP
-until her death in 1983...
-..when she was over 90 years old.
-Europe, this idealistic
-20th century idea...
-..had become reality.
-Even so, few in Brussels
-now remember this woman...
-..who campaigned so hard
-for her dream.
-Not by admiring our forefathers
-should we choose our actions.
-Nothing should diminish
-our vision of the future.
-We should avoid being
-classical versions of ourselves.
-History moves forward.
-What was impossible yesterday
-becomes possible tomorrow.
-S4C Subtitles by Testun Cyf.