DMF Strasbourg 36


Strasbourg Cathedral Square

Maxwell Fyfe's Strasbourg

For Maxwell Fyfe, Strasbourg was a place of work as this was where the Assembly for the Council of Europe met and where Maxwell Fyfe helped draft the European Convention on Human Rights. In his autobiography he describes how he came to be part of it saying 'One day in 1947, Winston (Churchill) called me across the smoking room of the House of Commons and asked me if I would join the committee of the United Europe Movement of which he was chairman. I had always been anxious to do something positive after the part I had played in destroying Nazi ideology and I accepted with enthusiasm.' Maxwell Fyfe travelled from Calais to Strasbourg in 1949 for the first conference. He says 'The Conference was divided into three committees, political, economic and cultural. I went into the cultural as I wanted to say something on human rights.' He went on to draft the European Convention on Human Rights that was signed in 1950 in Rome. Despite the fact Maxwell Fyfe spent a considerable length of time in Strasbourg, it is surprising how little he describes it. He mentions nothing of the architecture or beauty of the Alsatian town and its history. Strasbourg is a chocolate-box town with considerable French and German history as the town museum proudly displays. Since Maxwell Fyfe didn't mention any particular locations, I put together some of the most well known places to give an impression of the things that Maxwell Fyfe might have seen.

DMF Strasbourg 5

River Ill, Petite France

'Our draft had at its basis security for life and limb, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from slavery and compulsory labour, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of marriage, the sanctity of the family, equality before the law and freedom from arbitrary deprivation of property. I was very anxious that we should get an international sanction in Europe behind the maintenance of these basic decencies of life.' from David Maxwell-Fyfe's autobiography, Political Adventure

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Platz Kleber 11

Platz Kleber

'The most moving and exciting occasion of that August was a great meeting on the Place Kleber. All around every building flew two flags, the tri-colour of France and the green and white flag of United Europe. In the square the people were so closely packed that is seemed you could hardly have placed a walking stick between any two.'
from David Maxwell-Fyfe's autobiography, Political Adventure

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Modern Strasbourg 28

The European Quarter

(from left to right...Palais de Europe, Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights

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