From 1945 to 1953, in his roles as Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister,Alcide De Gasperi forged the path of the country’s destiny in the post-war years. He was born in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige (South Tyrol) which, until 1918, belongedto Austria. Along with other exceptional statesmen of his time, he campaigned actively forEuropean unity. His experiences of fascism and war — he was imprisoned between 1927and 1929 before finding asylum in the Vatican — led to his conviction that only the unionof Europe could prevent their recurrence. Time and time again he promoted initiatives aimed at the fusion of Western Europe,working on the realisation of the Marshall Plan and creating close economic ties withother European countries, in particular France. Furthermore, he supported theSchuman Plan for the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community, and helped develop the idea of thecommon European defence policy.