[gha] Re: Garry Davis

  • From: "moriikae" <moriikae@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <gha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2013 03:07:03 +0900

Thank you for your great text!   
As an adition, The devision plan was started in the WWII.   Now we all are the 
citizen of the world.   The right of citizen to living in peace must be most 
Best regard, Kae Morii

From: Wadlowz@xxxxxxx 
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 11:42 PM
To: gha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Subject: [gha] Garry Davis

Garry Davis: « And Now the People Have The Floor »

Rene Wadlow


         Garry Davis, who died 24 July 2013, in Burlington, Vermont, was often 
called “World Citizen N°1”. The title was not strictly exact as the organized 
world citizen movement began in England in 1937 by Hugh J. Shonfield and his 
Commonwealth of World Citizens, followed in 1938 by the creation jointly in the 
USA and England of the World Citizen Association. However, it was Garry Davis 
in Paris in 1948-1949 who reached a wide public and popularized the term “world 


         Garry Davis was the start of what I call “the second wave of world 
citizen action”.  The first wave was in 1937-1940 as an effort to counter the 
narrow nationalism represented by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and militaristic 
Japan. This first world citizen wave of action did not prevent the Second World 
War, but it did highlight the need for a wider cosmopolitan vision.  Henri 
Bonnet of the League of Nations’ Committee for Intellectual Co-operation and 
founder of the US branch of the World Citizen Association became an 
intellectual leader of the Free French Movement of De Gaulle in London during 
the War.  Bonnet was a leader in the founding of UNESCO — the reason it is 
located in Paris — and UNESCO’s emphasis on understanding among cultures.


         The Second Wave of world citizen action in which Garry Davis was a key 
figure lasted from 1948 to 1950 — until the start of the war in Korea and the 
visible start of the Cold War, although, in reality, the Cold War began in 1945 
when it became obvious that Germany and Japan would be defeated.  The 
victorious Great Powers began moving to solidify their positions.  The Cold War 
lasted from 1945 until 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. During the 
1950-1991 period, most world citizen activity was devoted to preventing a war 
between the USA and the USSR, working largely within other arms 
control/disarmament associations and not under a “world citizen flag.”


         The Third Wave of world citizen action began in 1991 with the end of 
the Cold War and the rise again of narrow nationalist movements as seen in the 
break up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.  The Association of World Citizens 
with its emphasis on conflict resolution, human rights, ecologically-sound 
development, and understanding among cultures is the moving force of this Third 


         The two-year Second Wave was an effort to prevent the Cold War which 
might have become a hot World War Three.  In 1948, the Communist Party took 
over Czechoslovakia, in what the West called a “coup”, more accurately a 
cynical manipulation of politics.  The coup was the first example of a 
post-1945 change in the East-West balance of power and started speculation on 
other possible changes as in French Indochina or in 1950 in Korea.  1948 was 
also the year that the UN General Assembly was meeting in Paris. The United 
Nations did not yet have a permanent headquarters in New York, so the General 
Assembly first met in London and later in Paris.  All eyes, especially those of 
the media, were fixed on the UN.  No one was sure what the UN would become, if 
it would be able to settle the growing political challenges or “go the way of 
the League of Nations”.


         Garry Davis, born in 1921, was a young Broadway actor in New York 
prior to the entry of the US in the World War in 1941. Garry Davis was a son of 
Meyer Davis, a well-known popular band leader who often performed at society 
balls and was well known in the New York-based entertainment world.  Thus it 
was fairly natural that his son would enter the entertainment world, as a “song 
and dance” actor in the musical comedies of those days. Garry had studied at 
the Carnegie Institute of Technology, a leading technology institution.


         When the US entered the war, Garry joined the Army Air Force and 
became a bomber pilot of the B-17, stationed in England with a mission to bomb 
targets in Germany.  Garry’s brother had been killed in the Allied invasion of 
Italy, and there was an aspect of revenge in bombing German military targets 
until he was ordered to bomb German cities in which there were civilians.


         At the end of the War and back as an actor in New York, he felt a 
personal responsibility toward helping to create a peaceful world and became 
active with world federalists who were proposing the creation of a world 
federation with powers to prevent war, largely based on the US experience of 
moving from a highly decentralized government under the Articles of 
Confederation to the more centralized Federal Government structured by the 


         At the time, Garry had read a popular book among federalists, The 
Anatomy of Peace by the Hungarian-born Emery Reves.  Reves had written “We must 
clarify principles and arrive at axiomatic definitions as to what causes war 
and what creates peace in human society.” If war was caused by a state-centric 
nationalism as Reves, who had observed closely the League of Nations, claimed, 
then peace requires a move away from nationalism. As Garry wrote in his 
autobiography My Country is the World (1) “In order to become a citizen of the 
entire world, to declare my prime allegiance to mankind, I would first have to 
renounce my United States nationality. I would secede from the old and declare 
the new”.


         In May 1948, knowing that the UN General Assembly was to meet in Paris 
in September and earlier the founding meeting of the international world 
federalists was to be held in Luxembourg, he went to Paris. There he renounced 
his US citizenship and gave in his passport.  However, he had no other identity 
credentials in a Europe where the police can stop you and demand that you 
provide identity papers. So he had printed a “United World Citizen 
International Identity Card” though the French authorities listed him as 
“Apatride d’origine americaine”. Paris after the War was filled with “apatride” 
but there was probably no other “d’origine americaine”


         Giving up US citizenship and a passport which many of the refugees in 
Paris would have wanted at any price was widely reported in the press and 
brought him many visitors.  Among the visitors was Robert Sarrazac who had been 
active in the French resistance and shared the same view of the destructive 
nature of narrow nationalism and the need to develop a world citizen ideology.  
Garry was also joined by the young Guy Marchand who would later play an 
important role in structuring the world citizen movement.


         As the French police was not happy with people with no valid identity 
papers wondering around, Garry Davis moved to the large modern Palais de 
Chaillot  with its terraces which had become “world territory” for the duration 
of the UN General Assembly. He set up a tent and waited to see what the UN 
would do to promote world citizenship.  In the meantime; Robert Sarrazac who 
had many contacts from his resistance activities set up a “Conseil de 
Solidarite” formed of people admired for their independence of thought, not 
linked to a particular political party.  The Conseil was led by Albert Camus, 
novelist and writer for newspapers, Andre Breton, the Surrealist poet, l’Abbé 
Pierre and Emmanuel Mounier, editor of Esprit, both Catholics of highly 
independent spirits as well as Henri Roser, a Protestant minister and secretary 
for French-speaking countries of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.


         Davis and his advisors felt that world citizenship should not be left 
outside the General Assembly hall but had to be presented inside as a challenge 
to the ordinary way of doing things, “an interruption”. Thus, it was planned 
that Garry Davis from the visitors balcony would interrupt the UN proceedings 
to read a short text; Robert Sarrazac had the same speech in French, and Albert 
Crespey, son of a chief from Togo had his talk written out in his Togolese 


         In the break after a long Yugoslav intervention, Davis stood up.  
Father Montecland, “priest by day and world citizen by night” said in a booming 
voice “And now the people have the floor!” Davis said “Mr Chairman and 
delegates: I interrupt in the name of the people of the world not represented 
here. Though my words may be unheeded, our common need for world law and order 
can no longer be disregarded.”   After this, the security guards moved in, but 
Robert Sarrazac on the other side of the Visitors Gallery continued in French, 
followed by a plea for human rights in Togolese. Later, near the end of the UN 
Assembly in Paris, the General Assembly adopted without an opposition vote, the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which became the foundation of world 
citizens’ efforts to advance world law. 


         Dr Herbert Evatt of Australia was the President of the UN General 
Assembly in 1948.  He was an internationalist who had worked during the San 
Francisco Conference creating the UN to limit the powers of the Permanent Five 
of the Security Council.  Evatt met with Davis a few days after the 
“interruption” and encouraged Davis to continue to work for world citizenship, 
even if disrupting UN meetings was not the best way.


         Shortly after highlighting world citizenship at the UN, Garry Davis 
went to the support of Jean Moreau, a young French world citizen and active 
Catholic, who as a conscientious objector to military service, had been 
imprisoned in Paris as there was no law on alternative service in France at the 
time. Davis camped in front of the door of the military prison at the Rue du 
Cherche Midi in central Paris.  As Davis wrote “When it is clearly seen that 
citizens of other nations are willing to suffer for a man born in France 
claiming the moral right to work for and love his fellow man rather than be 
trained in killing him, as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, Tolstoy, St Francis of 
Assisi, Gandhi, and other great thinkers and religious leaders have taught, the 
world may begin to understand that the conscience of Man itself rises above all 
artificially-created divisions and fears.” (2). Others joined Davis in camping 
on the street.  Garry Davis worked closely on this case with Henri Roser and 
Andre Trocme of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Davis was put in jail for 
camping on the city street and also for not having valid identification 
documents, but his place on the street was filled with others, including a 
German pacifist, an act of courage so soon after the end of the War.  It took 
another decade before alternative service in France was put into place, but 
Davis’ action had led to the issue being widely raised in France, and the link 
between world citizenship and non-violent action clearly drawn.


         Garry Davis was never an “organizational man”.  He saw himself as a 
symbol in action.  After a year in France with short periods in Germany, he 
decided in July 1949 to return to the US. As he wrote at the time “I have often 
said that it is not my intention to head a movement or to become president of 
an organization. In all honesty and sincerity, I must define the limit of my 
abilities as being a witness to the principle of world unity, defending to the 
limit of my ability the Oneness of man and his immense possibilities on our 
planet Earth, and fighting the fears and hatreds created artificially to 
perpetuate narrow and obsolete divisions which lead and have always led to 
armed conflict.”


         Perhaps by the working of karma, on the ship taking him to the USA, he 
met Dr. P. Natarajan, a south Indian religious teacher in the Upanishadic 
tradition.  Natarajan had lived in Geneva and Paris and had a doctorate in 
philosophy from the University of Paris.  He and Davis became close friends, 
and Davis spent some time in India at the center created by Natarajan who 
stressed the development of the inner life.  “Meditation consists of bringing 
all values inside yourself” was a motto of Natarajan.


         It was at the home of Harry Jakobsen, a follower of Natarajan, on 
Schooly Mountain, New Jersey that I first met Garry Davis in the early 1950s. I 
was also interested in Indian philosophy, and someone put me in contact with 
Jakobsen. However, I had joined what was then the Student World Federalists in 
1951 so I knew of the Paris adventures of Garry. We have since seen each other 
in Geneva, France and the US from time to time.


         Some world federalists and world citizens thought that his 
renunciation of US citizenship in 1948 confused people.  The more 
organization-minded world federalists preferred to stress that one can be a 
good citizen of a local community, a national state as well as a world citizen. 
  However Davis’ and my common interest in Asian thought was always a bond 
beyond any tactical disagreements.


         Today, it is appropriate to cite the oft-used Indian image of the wave 
as an aspect of the one eternal ocean of energy.  Each individual is both an 
individual wave and at the same time part of the impersonal source from which 
all comes and returns.  Garry Davis as a wave has now returned to the broader 
ocean.  He leaves us a continuing challenge writing “There is vital need now 
for wise and practical leadership, and the symbols, useful up to a point, must 
now give way to the men qualified for such leadership.”



1)     Garry Davis. My Country is the World (London: Macdonald Publishers, 

2)     Garry Davis.Over to Pacifism:A Peace News Pamphlet (London: Peace News, 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens







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