'An anxious continent': Walter Laqueur on Europe's decline

tags: Germany, European Union, Der Spiegel, Walter Laqueur, European history



British-American historian Walter Laqueur experienced the demise of the old Europe and the rise of the new. In a SPIEGEL interview, he shares his gloomy forecast for a European Union gripped by debt crisis.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Laqueur, you experienced Europe and the Europeans in the best and the worst of times. Historical hot spots and the stations of your personal biography were closely and sometimes dramatically intertwined. Which conclusions have you reached today, at the advanced age of 92?

Laqueur: I became a historian of the postwar era in Europe, but the Europe I knew no longer exists. My book "Out of the Ruins of Europe," published in 1970, ended with an optimistic assessment of the future. Later, in 2008, "The Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent" was published. I returned to the subject in my latest book, "After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent." The sequence of titles probably says it all.

SPIEGEL: The last two, at any rate, sound as if the demise of the Western world were imminent.

Laqueur: Europe will not be buried by ashes, like Pompeii or Herculaneum, but Europe is in decline. It's certainly horrifying to consider its helplessness in the face of the approaching storms. After being the center of world politics for so long, the old continent now runs the risk of becoming a pawn....



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