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"Why Italy Was for Europe" - New Book by Georg Kreis

Georg Kreis

Prof. em. Dr. Georg Kreis

In June 1989, a referendum showed overwhelming support for European integration among Italian voters. A new book by Prof. em. Dr. Georg Kreis examines the events leading up to the vote. The work titled "Why Italy Was for Europe: On the History of the 1989 Advisory Referendum" is published by Schwabe Verlag. It is a cooperation product of the Istituto Svizzero, the Swiss Embassy in Rome and Presence Suisse.

At the advisory referendum, Italian citizens had the opportunity to express their opinion about whether the European Parliament (EP) should draw up a constitution for a European Union. The referendum is the starting point and focus of the engagement with Italy's view on the question of Europe. The "historic" event is hardly ever mentioned in general historical accounts; in non-Italian scholarship, it has gone almost completely unnoticed. In his book, Kreis aims to counteract this. He distinguishes between two different histories leading up to the referendum: Firstly, an immediate history that begins in 1979 with the first direct elections for the EP or in 1984 with the adoption of a draft constitution at the end of term of the first EP; secondly, a longer history that begins in 1941 in the middle of the war with the Ventotene Manifesto or in 1945. The excurses into these two pasts are followed by a brief look at what has happened since the referendum.

Prof. em. Dr. Georg Kreis was the Director of the Institute for European Global Studies from 1993 to 2011, where he also continues to teach. Since 2008, he is Emeritus Professor of Modern General History and Swiss History at the Department of History at the University of Basel. His research foci include the history of European integration, international relations, questions of identity, nationalism and the history of the Second World War, genocide, collective memory and representations of the past.

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