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75 Years European Forum Alpbach

The European Forum Alpbach took place for the first time in August 1945 as one of the earliest international political and intellectual events in post-WWII Europe. Its founders were Otto Molden, who had been active in the resistance movement during the Second World War, and philosophy lecturer Simon Moser from Innsbruck, as well as a number of other influential personalities. Alpbach was created as an intellectual platform of discussion where Europe’s cultural, scientific and humanitarian heritage could be developed in a future-oriented way and where European integration could be promoted.

The European Forum Alpbach was founded under the name “Internationale Hochschulwochen” (International Summer Seminars). After the calamity of the Second World War was over, it came as stroke of good fortune that the first “Hochschulwochen” in the Tyrolian village of Alpbach was met with a warm reception and was accommodated under circumstances of which many anecdotes are still told today. Since this first meeting, the Austrian “Hochschulwochen” have taken place every year, and since 1949 these meetings became known as “European Forum Alpbach”.

The participants in the first year were mostly young people who had been actively engaged in the resistance against national socialism. The idea of the “Hochschulwochen” rapidly gained the support of the French occupying power and, because of the resistance, the head of the province of Tyrol, Dr. Karl Gruber, also became one of the first to assist in the foundation of the European Forum Alpbach.

Otto Molden envisaged a complete reconstruction of intellectual life in Europe. He came together with a circle of like-minded people to discuss a political unification of Europe which would consider the future prevention of war-like clashes between European nations to be the only way. Simon Moser wanted to create new structures in the universities and to fight for interdisciplinary exchange. From these interests a fruitful dialogue developed, over the years including not only politics and the economy but also the cultural sphere and economic development.

The significant contribution Forum Alpbach has made to the intellectual life of post-war Europe is a real achievement. The interchange between knowledge and practice was a particularly important aim from the very beginning. The intellectual atmosphere of the event, which was far removed from the restrictions of university and political life, contributed to the open nature of the discussions in Alpbach and allowed partners from opposite sides of the discussion to be brought together on one table.

A Window to the WorldCover

In 2015, the historian Maria Wirth published the first academic monograph about the European Forum Alpbach. The book documents the development since 1945. Download the abstract in English (PDF).

My Europe – a Village

Armed with his camera, director Kurt Langbein goes hot on the heels of the “Spirit of Alpbach”. In his resulting film documentary, you can get to know the people who have influenced, supported and developed the European Forum Alpbach.