Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi

Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi
Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi
House Coudenhove-Kalergi
Father Heinrich von Coudenhove-Kalergi
Mother Mitsuko Aoyama
Born 16 November 1894(1894-11-16)
Died 27 July 1972(1972-07-27) (aged 77)

Richard Nikolaus Eijiro von Coudenhove-Kalergi (German: Richard Nikolaus Eijiro Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi;[1] Japanese: リヒャルト・ニコラウス・栄次郎・クーデンホーフ=カレルギー Rihiyăruto-Nikorausu 栄次郎 (= Eijiro) Kūdenhōfu-Karerugī; November 16, 1894 – July 27, 1972) was an Austrian politician, geopolitician, philosopher and count of Coudenhove-Kalergi. His parents were Heinrich von Coudenhove-Kalergi, Austrian diplomat, and Mitsuko Aoyama, the daughter of an antiques-dealer and oil tycoon in Tokyo.

His first book, titled Pan-Europa was published in 1923, contained a membership form for the Pan-Europa movement. Coudenhove-Kalergi's movement held its first Congress in Vienna in 1926. In 1927 Aristide Briand was elected honorary president. Personalities attending included: Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann and Sigmund Freud.[2]


Family roots

Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi was the second son of Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi (1859–1906), an Austro-Hungarian count and diplomat of mixed European origin, and Mitsuko Aoyama (1874–1941). His father, who spoke sixteen languages and embraced travel as the only means of prolonging life, had prematurely abandoned a career in the Austrian diplomatic service that took him to Athens, Constantinople, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo, to devote himself to study and writing. His parents met when the future countess helped the Austro-Hungarian diplomat stationed in Japan after he fell off a horse. In commenting on their union, Whittaker Chambers described the future originator of Pan-Europe as "practically a Pan-European organization himself". He elaborated: "The Coudenhoves were a wealthy Flemish family that fled to Austria during the French Revolution. The Kalergis were a wealthy Cretan family. The line has been further crossed with Poles, Norwegians, Balts, French and Germans, but since the families were selective as well as cosmopolite, the hybridization has been consistently successful."[3] The Kalergis family roots trace to the Byzantine royalty via Venetian aristocracy, connecting with the Phokas imperial dynasty. In 1300, Coudenhove-Kalergi's ancestor Alexios Phokas-Kalergis signed the treaty that made Crete a dominion of Venice.

Youth and education

Coudenhove-Kalergi passed his adolescence on Bohemian family estates in Ronsperg, known today as Poběžovice. His father personally taught his two sons Russian and Hungarian and toughened them both physically and morally. He took them on long walks in all weathers, made them sleep on straw mattresses and take cold showers, and taught them to shoot and fence so well that no one would ever dare challenge them. He also took them to Mass every Sunday. On every Good Friday, as the liturgy came to the exhortation "oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis" ("Let us also pray for the faithless Jews"), the old count allegedly rose and walked out of the church in a protest against this supposed expression of antisemitism. (See Whittaker Chambers, loc. cit.)

Coudenhove-Kalergi studied at the Ecole épiscopale de Brixen (Brixen) before attending the Theresianische Akademie in Vienna from 1908 till 1913. He obtained his doctorate in philosophy with a thesis on Die Objectivität als Grundprinzip der Moral (The Objectivity as Fundamental Principle of Morals) in 1917 from the University of Vienna. While still in his student years, he married the famous Viennese actress Ida Roland in April 1915. His marriage to a divorcée thirteen years his senior and a commoner, caused a temporary split with his family.

Personal philosophy

Aristocratic in his origins and elitist in his ideas, Coudenhove-Kalergi identified and collaborated with such politicians as Engelbert Dollfuss, Kurt Schuschnigg, Otto von Habsburg, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle. His ideal political constituent was a gentleman, a person adhering to honesty, fair play, courtesy, and rational discourse.[citation needed] He strove to replace the nationalist German ideal of racial community with the goal of an ethnically heterogeneous and inclusive European nation based on a communality of culture, a nation whose geniuses were the "great Europeans" such as abbé de Saint-Pierre, Kant, Napoleon, Giuseppe Mazzini, Victor Hugo, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Pan-European political activist

Coudenhove-Kalergi is recognized as the founder of the first popular movement for a united Europe. His intellectual influences ranged from Rudolf Kjellén and Oswald Spengler to Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. In politics, he was an enthusiastic supporter of "fourteen points" made by Woodrow Wilson on 8 January 1918 and pacifist initiatives of Kurt Hiller. In the early 1920s he joined a Masonic lodge at Vienna, where he would reach several degrees. In 1922 he co-founded the Pan-European Union (PEU) with Archduke Otto von Habsburg, as "the only way of guarding against an eventual world hegemony by Russia".[4] In the following year he published a manifesto entitled Pan-Europa, each copy containing a membership form which invited the reader to become a member of the Pan-Europa movement. He favored social democracy as an improvement on "the feudal aristocracy of the sword" But his ambition was to create a conservative society that superseded democracy with "the social aristocracy of the spirit".[5]

From April 1924 to March 1938, Coudenhove-Kalergi worked as an editor and principal author of the journal Paneuropa. He published his main work, the three volumes of Kampf um Paneuropa (The fight for Paneuropa) between 1925 and 1928. In 1926, the first Congress of the Pan-European Union met in Vienna, and the 2,000 delegates elected Coudenhove-Kalergi president of the Central Council. His original plan was to divide the world into five groups of states: a United States of Europe that would link continental countries with French possessions in Africa; a Pan-American Union encompassing North and South Americas; the British Commonwealth circling the globe; the USSR spanning Eurasia; and a Pan-Asian Union whereby Japan and China would control most of the Pacific. The only hope for a Europe devastated by war was to federate along lines that the Hungarian-born Romanian Aurel Popovici and others had proposed for Austria-Hungary. According to Coudenhove-Kalergi, Pan-Europe would encompass and extend a more flexible and more competitive Austria-Hungary, with English serving as world language, spoken by everyone in addition to his native tongue. He predicted that individualism and socialism would learn to cooperate instead of compete, and urged that capitalism and communism cross-fertilize each other just as the Protestant Reformation had spurred the Catholic Church to regenerate itself.[6]

Coudenhove-Kalergi attempted to enlist prominent European politicians in his pan-European cause. He offered the presidency of the Austrian branch of the Pan-European Union to Ignaz Seipel, who accepted the offer unhesitatingly and rewarded his beneficiary with an office in the old Imperial palace in Vienna. Coudenhove-Kalergi had less success with Tomáš Masaryk, who referred him to his uncooperative Prime Minister Edvard Beneš. The idea of pan-Europe elicited support from politicians as diverse in their orientation as Carlo Sforza and Hjalmar Schacht. Although Coudenhove-Kalergi found himself unable to sway Benito Mussolini, his ideas influenced Aristide Briand and his inspired speech in favor of a European Union in the League of Nations on 8 September 1929, as well as his famous 1930 "Memorandum on the Organization of a Regime of European Federal Union".[7] Meanwhile, his Pan-Europeanism earned vivid loathing from Adolf Hitler, who excoriated its pacifism and mechanical economism and belittled its founder as "everybody's bastard".[8]

After the annexation of Austria by the Third Reich in 1938, Coudenhove-Kalergi fled to Czechoslovakia, and thence to France. As France fell to Germany in 1940, he escaped to the United States by way of Switzerland and Portugal. During the war, he continued his call for the unification of Europe along the Paris-London axis. His wartime politics and peripeties served as the real life basis for fictional Resistance hero Victor Laszlo, the Paul Henreid character in Casablanca. He published his work Crusade for Paneurope in 1944. His appeal for the unification of Europe enjoyed some support from Winston Churchill, Allen Dulles, and "Wild Bill" Donovan.[9] After the announcement of the Atlantic Charter on 14 August 1941, he composed a memorandum entitled "Austria's Independence in the light of the Atlantic Charter" and sent it to Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In his position statement, Coudenhove-Kalergi took up the goals of the charter and recommended himself as head of government in exile. Both Churchill and FDR distanced themselves from this document. From 1942 until his return to France in 1945, he taught at the New York University, which appointed him professor of history in 1944.

The end of war inaugurated a revival of pan-European hopes. Winston Churchill's celebrated speech of 19 September 1946 to the Academic Youth in Zurich commended "the exertions of the Pan-European Union which owes so much to Count Coudenhove-Kalergi and which commanded the services of the famous French patriot and statesman Aristide Briand." [10] In November 1946 and the spring of 1947, Coudenhove-Kalergi circulated an enquiry addressed to members of European parliaments. This enquiry resulted in the founding of the European Parliamentary Union (EPU), a nominally private organization that held its preliminary conference on 4–5 July at Gstaad, Switzerland, and followed it with its first full conference from 8 to 12 September. Speaking at the first EPU conference, Coudenhove-Kalergi argued that the constitution of a wide market with a stable currency was the vehicle for Europe to reconstruct its potential and take the place it deserves within the concert of Nations. On less guarded occasions he was heard to advocate a revival of Charlemagne's empire.[11] In 1950 he received the first annual Karlspreis (Charlemagne Award), given by the German city of Aachen to people who contributed to the European idea and European peace.

In 1955 he proposed the Beethoven's Ode to Joy as the music for the European Anthem,[12] a suggestion that the Council of Europe took up 16 years later.

In the 1960s Coudenhove-Kalergi urged Austria to pursue "an active policy of peace", as a "fight against the Cold War and its continuation, the atomic war". He advocated Austrian involvement in world politics in order to keep the peace, as "active neutrality". He continued his advocacy of European unification in memoranda circulated to the governments of the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. He recommended negotiations between the European Community and the European Free Trade Association towards forming a "European customs union" that would be free of political and military connections, but would eventually adopt a monetary union.

Views on race and religion

In his attitudes towards race and religion, Coudenhove-Kalergi continued the work of his father. Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi was a Roman Catholic with no Jewish blood.[citation needed] In his youth, he was an antisemite. He had expected to confirm his antipathy towards the Jews when he started working on his treatise Das Wesen des Antisemitismus (The Essence of Antisemitism). But he came to a different conclusion by the time he published his book in 1901. Following an ironic critique of the new racial theories, he declared that the essence of antisemitism amounted to nothing more credible than fanatical religious hatred. He traced that fanaticism to religious bigotry that originated in the promulgation of Torah under Ezra. According to the elder Coudenhove-Kalergi, Jewish religious bigotry provoked opposition from the relatively tolerant Greco-Roman polytheists, eliciting their anti-Judaic reaction. Antisemitism came into existence when Christianity and Islam took over the intolerant fanaticism of Judaism, and turned it against the Jews. Thus Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi credited the Jews with originating religious intolerance, and condemned it as a violation of genuine religious principles. He branded every sort of anti-Judaism unchristian. He further urged liberal Christians and Jews to ally in protecting both of their religions, and religion as such, against the emerging menace of secularism.[13]

In spite of his opposition to simplistic racial theory, Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi agreed that Jews are racially distinct. Although he pointed out that there is no Semitic race, because Semitic is a language family, he equivocated by also remarking that the charges that Semites were uncreative were belied by civilizations formed by the Assyrians and Babylonians, who spoke Semitic languages. He further sought to defend the Jews against bigoted charges of parasitic greed and cowardice with anecdotal counterexamples of Jewish industriousness and martial courage.[14]

In 1932 Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi composed a preface for a new edition of his father's condemnation of antisemitism, reissued by his own publishing house. In 1933 he responded to the ascendance of National Socialism by collaborating with Heinrich Mann, Arthur Holitscher, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Max Brod in writing and publishing the pamphlet Gegen die Phrase vom jüdischen Schädling (Against the Phrase 'Jewish Parasite').

Coudenhove-Kalergi complemented his liberal views of the political role of the Jews with distinctive advocacy of race mixing. In his book Praktischer Idealismus (Practical Idealism) he wrote:[15]

"The man of the future will be of mixed race. Today's races and classes will gradually disappear owing to the vanishing of space, time, and prejudice. The Eurasian-Negroid race of the future, similar in its appearance to the Ancient Egyptians, will replace the diversity of peoples with a diversity of individuals."
"Instead of destroying European Jewry, Europe, against its own will, refined and educated this people into a future leader-nation through this artificial selection process. No wonder that this people, that escaped Ghetto-Prison, developed into a spiritual nobility of Europe. Therefore a gracious Providence provided Europe with a new race of nobility by the Grace of Spirit. This happened at the moment when Europe’s feudal aristocracy became dilapidated, and thanks to Jewish emancipation."


Coudenhove-Kalergi is buried at Gruben near Gstaad.


  • "We are experiencing the most dangerous revolution in the world history: the revolution of the State against the man. We are experiencing the worst idolatry of all the time: the deification of the state." (Totaler Mensch - totaler Staat)


  • Adel (1922)
  • Ethik und Hyperethik (1922)
  • Pan-Europa (1923)
  • Krise der Weltanschauung (1923)
  • Pazifismus (1924)
  • Deutschlands Europäische Sendung. Ein Gespräch (1924)
  • Praktischer Idealismus (1925)
  • Kampf um Paneuropa (3 Volumes, 1925–28)
  • Held oder Heiliger (1927)
  • Stalin & Co. (1931)
  • Gebote des Lebens (1931)
  • Las vom Materialismus! (1931)
  • La lutte pour l'Europe (1931)
  • Revolution durch Technik (1932)
  • Gegen die Phrase vom jüdischen Schädling (1933, co-authored with Heinrich Mann, Arthur Holitscher, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Max Brod)
  • Europa erwacht! (1934)
  • Judenhaß von heute: Graf H. Coudenhofe-Kalergi. Das Wesen des Antisemitismus (1935)
  • Europa ohne Elend: Ausgewählte Reden (1936)
  • Judenhaß! (1937)
  • Totaler Staat - totaler Mensch (1937)
  • The Totalitarian State Against Man, with an introduction by Wickham Stead, translated by Sir Andrew Mc Fadyean (1939)
  • Europe Must Unite, translated by Sir Andrew Mc Fadyean (1939)
  • Die europäische Mission der Frau (1940)
  • Kampf um Europa (1949)
  • Ida Roland: In Memoriam (1951)
  • Die Europäische Nation (1953)
  • Der Gentleman (1953)
  • An Idea Conquers the World, with a preface by Winston S. Churchill (1953)
  • Vom Ewigen Krieg zum Großen Frieden (1956)
  • Eine Idee erobert Europa (1958)
  • From War to Peace (1959)
  • Weltmacht Europa (1971)

See also


  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Graf is a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin.
  2. ^
  3. ^ [|Chambers, Whittaker] (January 1944), Historian and History Maker, American Mercury .
  4. ^ See Stephen Dorril, MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service, Free Press, 2000, p. 165.
  5. ^ See Ben Rosamond, Theories of European Integration, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000, pp. 21-22.
  6. ^ See Walter Lipgens, editor, Documents on the History of European Integration, Volume 1: Continental Plans for European Union 1939-1945, Walter De Gruyter, 1984, p. 712; William M. Johnston, The Austrian Mind: An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938, University of California Press, 1983, pp. 320-321.
  7. ^ See D. Weigall and P. Stirk, editors, The Origins and Development of the European Community, Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1992, pp. 11-15.
  8. ^ See Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History, Hill and Wang, 2001, p. 426; Walter Lipgens, op. cit., p. 37.) In his turn, Coudenhove-Kalergi once again approached Mussolini on 10 May 1933 in a futile attempt to form a union of Latin nations against the Third Reich. (See Walter Lipgens, op. cit, pp. 180-184.
  9. ^ See Dorril, op. cit., pp. 166-167.
  10. ^ See Walter Lipgens and Wilfried Loth, editors, Documents on the History of European Integration, Volume 3: The Struggle for European Union by Political Parties and Pressure Groups in Western European Countries 1945-1950, Walter De Gruyter, 1988, p. 664; Winston S. Churchill, Never Give In: The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches, Hyperion, 2003, pp. 427-430.
  11. ^ See Walter Lipgens and Wilfried Loth, op. cit., p. 537.
  12. ^
  13. ^ See Gavin I. Langmuir, History, Religion, and Antisemitism, pp 22–24; William M. Johnston, op. cit., pp. 320-321.
  14. ^ See Ritchie Robertson, The "Jewish Question" in German Literature, 1749-1939: Emancipation and Its Discontents, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 198-199.
  15. ^ Praktischer Idealismus, Wien/Leipzig 1925, pages 20, 23, 50

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