Schuman was born in Luxembourg to parents from Lorraine. The family soon returned to that province, then a province of Germany, and Schuman was thus educated in the German education system, and his law degree, obtained at the University of Berlin was in German law. After the First World War Alsace and Lorraine were retaken by France and Schuman became active in French politics. In 1919 he was first elected as a deputy to parliament. And served in this capacity until 1940 when under the Vichy regime he was placed under house arrest. A year later he escaped, however, and joined the French Resistance.
After the war Schuman rose to great prominence. He was briefly Prime Minister before in 1947 becoming Foreign Minister. On May 9, 1950, mostly at the behest of Jean Monnet, Schuman invited the Germans to jointly manage their coal and steel industries. This formed the basis of the European Coal and Steel Community, which eventually evolved into the European Union. This became known as the Schuman declaration, and to this day May 9 is designated Europe Day.