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Ursula Hirschmann 1913 - 1991

Along with Ada Rossi, she played a key role in spreading the Manifesto of Ventotene and its ideas of Europeanism

Ursula Hirschmann

Ursula Hirschmann

Antifascist and militant of the European Federalist Movement, Ursula Hirschmann was born in Berlin on 2 September 1913 into a Jewish family of bourgeois extraction. She undertook Economics studies with her brother Albert, later nominated for the Nobel Prize. Attending the uni classrooms she came close to the circles of the German Social democratic youth and she joined the Resistance against Nazism. In 1933 she was compelled to find shelter in Paris, reaching her brother. In the French capital, she met Eugenio Colorni, already an acquaintance from the university. With him – future founding father of Europe together with Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi – she moved to Italy, to Trieste in particular, where they both took an active part in the underground opposition against fascism. They got married in 1935. Three daughters were born from their marriage. Ursula decided to resume her studies and she graduated in German Literature in Venice. In 1939, she followed Eugenio in Ventotene, where he had been sent to confinement. Here the Manifesto of Ventotene was born, written by Colorni, Spinelli and Rossi who spoke out for a free and united Europe, which would be the basis of the European Federalist Movement. Along with Ada Rossi and Altiero Spinelli’s sisters, Gigliola and Fiorella, Ursula played a key role in disseminating the Manifesto and its ideas of Europeanism. The woman in facts became an antifascist courier, creating a true network between the Island and the mainland. Also after reaching Colorni – resettled in Melfi upon Giovanni Gentile’s intercession – she kept in touch with the federalists of Ventotene and she did not relinquish the dream of a new European solidarity. In 1943, in Milan, she attended and was active in the founding meeting of the European Federalist Movement. She helped to edit and spread the underground newspaper of the movement: L’Unità Europea. She moved to Switzerland where she got together with Altiero Spinelli, with whom she would have three more daughters. The Swiss meetings of the Movement assumed a more and more international breadth, opening up to the other European Federalist Movements. Eugenio – who had escaped from Melfi – was murdered in Rome in May 1944 by the fascists of the Koch gang band. After the end of the conflict, Altiero and Ursula, too moved from Rome. In 1975 she founded in Brussels the association Femmes pour l’Europe, with the aim at uniting women in common struggles. She died in Rome on 8 January 1991.

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The Righteous, neither saints nor heroes

in praise of the daily-life virtues

The deeds, sometimes the entire life, of the Righteous, are there to prove that every human being can take up a personal responsibility to defend the weakest people and oppose the anti-democratic and repressive drifts of society.

Not only the Righteous among the nations awarded in Yad Vashem, but all the world's Righteous should be remembered, honored and praised for their key contribution to the fate of the human kind.

Learning about their biographies helps the construction of educational memory, able to speak to the younger people's hearts and minds.