Hitler’s Cosmopolitan Bastard: Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi and His Vision of Europe

In the turbulent period following the First World War the young Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi founded the Pan-European Union, offering a vision of peaceful, democratic unity for Europe, with no borders, a common currency, and a single passport. His political congresses in Vienna, Berlin, and Basel attracted thousands from the intelligentsia and the cultural elite, including Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, and Sigmund Freud, who wanted a United States of Europe brought together by consent.

The Count’s commitment to this cooperative ideal infuriated Hitler, who referred to him as a ‘cosmopolitan bastard’ in Mein Kampf. Communists and nationalists, xenophobes and populists alike hated the Count and his political mission. When the Nazis annexed Austria, the Count and his wife, the famous actress Ida Roland, narrowly escaped the Gestapo. He fled to the United States, where he helped shape American policy for postwar Europe. Coudenhove-Kalergi’s profile was such that he served as the basis for the fictional resistance hero Victor Laszlo in the film Casablanca. A brilliant networker, the Count guided many European leaders, notably advising Winston Churchill before his 1946 Zurich speech on Europe. A friend to both Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle, Coudenhove-Kalergi was personally invited to the High Mass in Rheims Cathedral in 1961 to celebrate Franco-German reconciliation.

A provocative visionary for Europe, Coudenhove-Kalergi thought and acted in terms of continents, not countries. For the Count, the United States of Europe was the answer to the challenges of communist Russia and capitalist America. Indeed, he launched his Pan-European Union thirty years before Jean Monnet set up the European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor to the European Union. Timely and capitivating, Martyn Bond’s biography offers an opportunity to explore a remarkable life and revisit the impetus and origins of a unified Europe.

“The writing of Hitler’s Cosmopolitan Bastard sparkles. At last the story of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi can be widely shared in the English-speaking world. This is an enthralling tale of vanished worlds and a charismatic personality. It is a stunning achievement to tell the story of his fight for a United States of Europe alongside his complex personal life and deserves rich praise.” Anne Sebba, author of Les Parisiennes

 

“An evocative portrait of an under-appreciated statesman, someone who embraced the ideal of a united Europe long before others. At a time of Brexit and other manifestations of contemporary populism, it is well worth recalling the turbulence of the mid-20th century and the bravery of those who stood up against tyranny.” John Kampfner, author of Why the Germans do it better. Notes from a grown-up country.

 

“A comprehensive study of Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi and his profound influence on the pan-European outlook of Churchill and Amery could not be more timely as a Conservative government forces the UK to turn its back on the grand European project which was Coudenhove’s conception. Drawing on many hitherto unavailable family papers, Martyn Bond has constructed a rich seamless narrative describing this mesmerising personality”. Richard Bassett, author of Last Days in Old Europe and The Last Imperialist: Portrait of Julian Amery.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This