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Ursula Hirschmann: anti-fascist and feminist activist

Life and times

When Colorni was arrested and imprisoned on the island of Ventotene,Hirschmann followed her husband there.

There they met Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli, who in 1941 co-authored the Ventotene Manifesto ‘for a free and united Europe’, regarded by many as the starting point for European federalism.The manifesto was widely read by those fighting with the Italian Resistance against the Nazis.

A vision for Europe

The manifesto called for a break with Europe’s past to form a new political system through a restructuring of politics and extensive social reform. Hirschmann smuggled the manifesto into mainland Italy and helped to disseminate it. 

After leaving Ventotene, she arrived in Milan and co-founded the Movimento Federalista Europeo (European Federalist Movement) in 1943. After Colorni was murdered by fascists, Hirschmann fled to Switzerland and became involved in organising the first international federalist congress in Paris in 1945.

Hirschmann’s political commitment did not end after the Second World War. In 1975, she founded the Femmes pour l’Europe (Women for Europe) association in Brussels.

Ursula Hirschmann

A copy of Ursula Hirschmann’s Italian identity card.


More about Ursula Hirschmann’s life, work and contribution to the European project.

Further information

The Ursula Hirschmann lectures of the European University Institute.