Louise Weiss: a committed European

Journalist for Europe

L. Weiss sitting at her desk

Louise Weiss’ desire to bring Europe closer together and to achieve a better understanding between its nations was rooted in the horrors of the Great War and her subsequent aim to build a better future for her fellow citizens. In 1918 she co-founded the weekly journal L’Europe nouvelle, which sought to provide high-quality information on international politics and major economic issues to aid the continent’s peacemakers.

In 1919 she attended the signing ceremony of the Versailles Peace Treaty as a journalist, and frequently reported from central and eastern Europe on the national aspirations of countries emerging from the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She also travelled to Russia, where she wrote a report for the Red Cross on the regions affected by famine after witnessing first-hand the impact of the Soviet revolution. Ever the social activist, on her return to France, she organised campaigns to provide help to malnourished Russian and Ukrainian children.

Weiss’ work as editor-in-chief of L’Europe nouvelle from 1920 to 1934 would put her at the epicentre of many key moments of Europe’s development across the 20th century. She worked with many the greatest writers of her time, often asking them to contribute to her newspaper on foreign policy issues.

She made frequent trips to Geneva where she covered developments concerning the League of Nations and met Jean Monnet, later known as a ‘Founding Father of Europe’.

As an advocate of a just peace with Germany, she helped to popularise the idea of European integration. She supported the Locarno Treaties that established a collective security system in Europe, and defended the ambitious European federal union project of French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand.

Louise Weiss was gradually becoming a significant force in the male-dominated world of diplomatic journalism. In Paris, she met with leading intellectuals, diplomats and politicians. Her reputation was such that she was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1925. However, less than a decade later and with Hitler’s ascendancy in Germany convincing her that any European rapprochement was becoming impossible, she abandoned journalism to pursue peace in Europe by different means.